Kiddies, Dumplings, and Life in Taipei
I’ve been meaning to write a blog at some point during these three weeks I have been in Taiwan, but the truth is I have been at a total loss as of where to start. That’s not like me. Usually you can’t shut me up about my travels! So I suppose this is me breaking the seal…
Have you ever arrived somewhere wonderfully foreign and unfamiliar, and immediately been struck with an unexplainable feeling that you were “home”? That’s exactly how I felt the very moment I found myself in the back of a taxi cab in a jet-lagged daze, zipping away from the International airport and into the beating heart of Taipei. I haven’t felt this often, but I have noticed a correlation between this particular sensation and my random meanderings through Asia. The only obvious and sane explanation I can come up with is that I was Asian in a past life.
I don’t know whether it was the smell of spicy BBQ pork wafting through my cracked window as we cruised down narrow alleyways packed with morning market street stalls, or the sticky humidity that always makes me feel vibrant and alive, or the cheeky smile that flashed across the face of a man selling fresh dumplings, or maybe the fact that I couldn’t understand a word of what my taxi driver was muttering as he spit betel nut out the window, but something told me the stars were aligning. I was exactly where I was supposed to be, and a real adventure was at my doorstep.
I settled in faster than I could have dreamt possible. I immediately figured out the subway system (by far the cleanest and most efficient I have ever experienced). I immediately fell in love with my job, which took a slight turn once I arrived as I accepted a last minute job teaching young children for the chain school that hired me. Spending time teaching these kids every day has been one of the biggest blessings yet.
I also immediately met some nice people to hang out with, and dove right into some risqué street food escapades, as well as some late night roadside beers from 7-11. I’m aware that 7-11 may not be a top choice to meet for a beer back home, but is a crackin’ little convenient meet-up spot here in Taiwan. Air conditioning, free wifi, cheap beers, and lots of chocolate- what more could a girl ask for? (Actually that’s a lie because there’s a lot more and I’m nowhere near that simple, but this will do for now 😉
So, the job- I am teaching small kidlets and they are rambunctious, adorable, full of life, and keep me on my toes. I’m not just their English teacher, I am their only teacher. This means I am also teaching Science, Drama, PE (they will all be little yogis and yoginis before they know what hit them), Cooking, Character Building, Math, not to mention all of our field trips and outings around Taipei. Am I qualified to teach Cooking and Science? You betcha! Friday is dumpling day. I’m teaching my students how to make dumplings, which frankly seems a bit backwards as I have never once cooked a dumpling and something tells me they should be the ones teaching me. But I learned pretty quickly with this age group that if Teacher Emily believes she is the best Dumpling Maker on this side of East Asia, the students will follow suit and think the same. So there you have it: Qualified.
And as for my wonderfully spacious Taipei apartment that I am writing this blog from? I found this little gem sandwiched between a temple and a dumpling shop (notice a theme yet?). It costs me a hefty $250 a month, and I share the apartment with two flatmates, who are also great. I’ve adapted quickly- I already have loads of laundry hanging outside my balcony like a real Chinese person.
So to sum it up, life sucks and I want to go home.
But to cut the sarcasm for just a moment, I definitely miss home as usual, all my favorite people, and of course my dear little Puddles. But, I am extremely happy with my decision to come here, and shocked at how smooth the transition has been. I feel at home, and look forward to what this adventure will bring.
And now, I must go. It’s dinner time and dumplings are calling.