Daily Living in Taiwan


Daily Life:

Now that we’ve been here a few weeks, Aaron and I have begun to settle into a little daily routine. We go to work every day from 8-4, beginning our days at the crack of dawn. We take turns making a simple breakfast of either eggs and toast or oatmeal with this nutrition packet that tastes like almonds and is very popular here. Then we ride to school with the 3 other teachers on our team. (3 more will be joining us at the end of December). We all drive 30 minutes to our school in Pingling, which is the “Tea Capitol” of Taiwan.
We work, and talk, and play with the kids, and prepare lesson plans, design, and materials for our new school. Our school is under construction and is supposed to be finished in time for our grand opening in December, but we’ll see if that happens (photos coming!).
We eat every day at this noodle shop owned by one of the kids’ parents, and they have a chubby little 3 year old that bosses us around each time we come for lunch. The food is probably one of the consistently best that we’ve had, and they invent new vegetarian items every day-always something new to look forward to.
Then we go down the street to 7-11 to get some juice or chocolate and then head back to school to finish up our work. Right now, I’m designing logos for each room, a website with videos, pictures and a blog, as well as attempting to create a cute map for the kids to navigate around camp.
We drive home each afternoon at 4 an right now are practicing holding our breaths in the tunnel. Lara found David Blaine’s secret breath-holding techniques so we’re putting it to the test on the ride home. Aaron and I do a 2 mile lap of the town each evening and sometimes pick up a meal of either a grilled tofu brick, noodles, or vegetables, and then we head home to clean our house or catch up with the latest Office or Glee episode.
The weekends are really fun because we go into Taipei and see the other teachers. We explore different Metro stops and try and get more familiar with the different neighborhoods and markets.
Two aspects of daily living that have been a little trouble to get used to is our tiny fridge and oven, and our always damp laundry. The small kitchen forces us to shop almost every day, and we’re pretty limited in baking because of the size of the oven. This could be a good thing because it forces us to exercise to the store, and restricts our consumption of delicious baked goods. (check out my first attempt at cookies! However, I forgot that our oven is in Celisius and cooked the cookies at about 500 degrees F).
Laundry takes 3-5 days per load, and consists of washing in our machine, laying out or hanging to dry and then several flips and turns and modification through the house as we pray for the mildew to hold off a little longer. Our house is sometimes a jungle of jeans, shirts, and underwear. I’m trying this new thing where I wear my clothes longer than I normally would, just because I’m sick of doing laundry. It’s a little stinky but I can handle it and hope the people around me can too.

That’s just a snapshot into what it’s like here!

Oh, and one of our favorite things is the signs in English and their use of English translation. Most of the time, it's a little off but definitely hilarious-check out the J-Walking sign!.

Top 20 list-by Aaron


Interesting things we’ve experienced in Taiwan/Things I like:

(things in parentheses are added by rika)

1. Great apartment (it was a little dirty, but we gave it some love...we have a great view)

2. Love the food (i'm gonna disagree with this one...a little goes a long way)

3. Really helpful and nice people (very nice, super helpful, even when it's out of their skill level)

4. Best cab drivers in the world unless you’re worried about silly things like directions (HA!)

5. Kids at the school are great fun (and cute, so very cute!)

6. We work with awesome people (our bosses were teachers here last year and are determined to make our situation better with all the lessons they learned)

7. Eating is always an interesting if somewhat dangerous/gross experience, usually just good. (i've had to learn how to say "Mayo RO!" = "No Meat", and then describe the different meats just so they won't sneak something in)

8. Learning to communicate without speaking Mandarin is fun (sign language, and speaking really loud)

9. First home together (yay!)

10. 7-11’s run the country (and they have absolutely everything you can imagine!)

11. It’s beautiful

12. Tons of things to do

13. Currently has the world’s tallest complete building (Dubai is close to beating us out)

14. Our job here is fun

15. We’re still on the “grid” not some remote jungle (grocery store is a 15 minute walk)

16. Rika loves the squat pots, I think it’s her favorite thing here (rika does not like the squat pots)

17. The metro here is amazing (and everyone in the station is good at making lines. people always stand still on the right side of the escalator and let the moving people pass on the left. i've heard of this idea in theory but have never witnessed it!)

18. Driving is crazy, but less accidents here than the states (um, heart attack central. no rules of traffic, just do as you feel, every lane is a passing lane even if there's oncoming traffic)

19. Speed limits? Red lights? Nah…

20. Hard mattresses (brought to you by Chevy-like a rock)

Taiwan: Post #1.


(experiencing taipei, and our little apartment)
Our blog is working!

Well, I already wrote one or two new blog accounts, but our sketchy internet prohibited anything from going through. I was so frustrated I took a few days off from blogging (especially since I lost the originals from not saving).

Here we are, in Taiwan! The island, otherwise known as Formosa, or beautiful, is just like its name describes. Aaron and I were in awe as we drove through Taipei to our apartment on the outskirts of town. There are so many semi-jagged hills, plush with thick vegetation, mixed with grungy urban life as well. Taiwan has almost as many people as Australia and it’s a small fraction of the size. Most of the people live in the capital, Taipei, and most people live in high-rise apartments. All of the English teachers at our campus live in such apartments, with a view of the mountains and a single freeway. Our apartment is pretty spacious, complete with couches, a meditation room, and mini-sized fridge and oven.
Since we’ve arrived, we have been so busy! The first weekend we were here was a whirlwind of exploration and adventure. We navigated the Taipei metro system to see our fellow teachers in the north, and then went to church with everyone the next day at a small church that meets in an amphitheater of the Adventist hospital in the city. After the church service, we went to the Taipei 101 area of the city and saw street performers, Chinese tourists, and lots and lots of people.
More on the city of Taipei lata…
We spent that evening with other English teachers our age, who had been in Taiwan since this summer, and they filled us in on many mistakes and lessons that they had already made, especially when it comes to food. We’ll have to do a blog or a few blogs on the food sometime too-it’s just crazy. But since we’re here, I have three words for you: Coagulated pig’s blood. It’s a delicacy here. Here's a little video of our first culinary experience.
Sunday we spent exploring even more of a Taipei neighborhood and found a North Face store, several used book shops with a few English books, and our friends Chris and Lisa took us to a New Zealand burger place that had amazing burgers, even veggie! After that, we went home and started working on apartment to make it more livable.
We are in the process of planning and training to open up a new English school, called Kuolai English Wilderness. It sounds hardcore because it is. We’ll be teaching outdoor skills to urban Taipei’en 5th graders and they’ll be learning choice English phrases in the process. We have an office in a public elementary school about 30 minutes away, and this is our “mother school”, where we will be held accountable as regular teachers with regular hours, even if we are out of the box non-comformers.

There’s so much to say, so little time, so stay tuned!



Aaron and I have been so fortunate in the last week and a half. Instead of being kicked out of our respective rented houses and thrown to the cold, dark streets of Chattanooga, our good friends, The Morris's, have taken us in and will house us until we leave early Friday morning for California. We've had so much fun with Jonathan and Monika. During the days, while they're at work, we've been packing and repacking, cleaning out my car, running last minute errands, and researching ways to communicate with our fellow Americans while we're overseas. And then, when they come home, we PARTY in the USA. (do I hear a little Miley Cyrus coming on?)

Do you remember the days when you'd come home from school, throw on a bike or pair of rollerblades and tear up the cul-de-sac with the other kids on the street until dusk settles over the land? Well, we had one of those evenings complete with mopeds, skateboards, and hay-bale jumping. We are really going to miss all of these fun-loving friends of ours', but on a brighter note, Aaron has signed us up for unlimited calls to the US as well as a US number for our friends and family to call us on. And it won't cost you a cent! But if you sign up for Skype, you can look at us too while you're talking to us!

Our new phone number (now effective) is:

(909) 54 RIKON

(909) 547-4566.

Countdown to leaving Tennessee is 3 days!