Tuesday, July 28, 2009


For the past couple weeks I have been trying to figure out what level my first graders are at and what they have already learned. During writing today I told them to write a story about anything they wanted- it just had to be at least six sentences. This is what I got.

Aladdin found a genie. The genie is big and it is blue. He gave Aladdin a wish. He wished to have a kiss from a princess. The princess wanted to give a kiss. Aladdin and princess are happy.

One day there was a princess named Miss Lisa. She is very pretty. And she is smart. But one time she saw a prince. And the prince saw her. They are very happy so they got married. (This one is my favorite...such a simple, lovely story).

One day, teacher wanted everyone to draw a fish. Bing's mother go to buy fish. Bing looked at the gray fish and Bing yelled, you throw away fish! Mother sayed we need to cut fish so we can eat it. Bing and mom go home and everyone eat fishes except for Bing don't want to eat fishes. Bing is sad the fishes shirt is gone. Bing looked water inside fishes and drawed it. Tomorrow teacher wanted everyone to show fish. Emily draw two red fishes. Belinda draw yellow fish and Jason draw five big fishes.

One time there was an ant. The ant was small. The ant's name was Max. Max liked to eat ice cream and candy. Max was eating the ice cream and candy. A person ate the ice cream candy, and Max.

One day there was a princess named Miss Lisa. She played outside and saw a tiger. The tiger wanted to eat Miss Lisa. Miss Lisa said, You are crazy! The tiger ate Miss Lisa.

Six dollars

I'm sure any college student knows or remembers how buying food wipes out all of your money. It is the worst...that first grocery shopping trip that costs you 100 dollars. So I went to the grocery store today with only 250 taiwanese dollars, not realizing that it was only about 7.50 american dollars. I only spent 6 american dollars in the end! I got 4 bananas, a box of crackers, 2 HUGE carrots, an onion, a plum, a carton of grape juice, a loaf of bread, and mango popsicles for six dollars. Not bad, eh?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I like being a teacher.

Hopefully I'll still love it in a couple of months...

* I love little Cooper who moves his mat to come sit next to me. He tries to hold my hand and kiss me. He also says, "I lub you." It melts my heart. I also started calling him chunk sometimes because he is chubby and he repeats it to me and it makes me laugh so hard.

* I love how Jason CANNOT sit still in his chair. He now sits in a desk right next to mine. He loves it. The other kids are jealous and when he was absent for the week on vacation they fought over who would get to sit there.

* I love the one angel student in my smaller kindergarten class, Jessica. I think all of the other children are possessed, but she is always sweet and smiles at me even though she doesn't know what I'm saying. haha.

* I love that Emily brings a snack EVERY DAY to class and walks around to every desk placing the treat on it instead of handing it to each student.

* I love when Lori does the hokey pokey and she puts her right and left hip in- it makes me want to die she is so cute. I will get a video of her doing it and you will understand. I also love when they put there nose in and they scrunch up their little faces.

* I also love how Carol giggles all the time and would be perfectly happy to just sit on my lap all day long.

* I love this huge mat that they have which I put into the shape of a house when they are being good. They are obsessed with it- all we do is sit inside and say our numbers and sing the alphabet, but they cannot get enough. The second they see me touch the mat they are screaming at me using any english word they can think of.

* I love when Yvonne comes to class with a mask on her face because she is sick- everything she tries to say is all mumbled.

* I love how much my first graders love our secret handshake and pokemon cheer.

* I love that my kindergarteners discovered group hugs today. One of the kids was sad so I asked if she needed a hug. I hugged her and all the other kids came to hug her too and we ended up having a dog pile of hugs with everyone laughing.

* I love how Cindy can also not sit still and can never stop dancing. She has got some moves, let me tell you.

* I love how often my students will say something to me and I have NO clue what they are saying.

* I love how Dream takes care of Rex (who we think has autism). She puts her arm around him and sits next to him when most of the other kids ignore him.

* I love how Emily and Jemmy come to class all tired and solemn and by the second hour they are seriously crazy.

* I love when I say something in Chinese to my students and they bust up laughing- they apparently do not realize how much I have to hold back from laughing at them whenever they speak english.

* I love how much my first graders are obsessed with four corners and red light, green light.

* I love when they say, Good morning Miss Lisa.

* I love how Dream and Stanley chug their water so they can have me sneak them cold water from the spout, which I do gladly. In Taiwan, they believe you should not drink or eat cold things when it is hot. So the secretaries fill the kids' water bottles with luke warm water. sick.

* I love when my first graders want to tell me something so badly and they can't think of how to say it in english so they ask me if they can ask another student. (The kids are not allowed to speak Chinese). So they whisper in the person's ear and they all try to figure it out by explaining it or drawing it on the board.

I am excited to love even more things.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Kaohsiung (Gowshung)

The wind was so strong that I couldn't just take a normal picture because my hair was out of control. so I just worked the camera instead. You can see I also have a little coconut as a refreshment. mmm. Okay, it actually wasn't that good, but it was better than nothing.

This is the stadium they built. Super rad.

They have random stuff set up everywhere for the games. I am not sure what this means, but I particularly love the lips floating in midair.

This little girl is Ariel. We asked her if she spoke english and she definitely did. She talked to us for awhile and after she left her parents were beaming with pride. They were hugging her and talking to her. Most parents force their kids to talk to us- some are too scared. I think they probably think I am going to bite them.

I love trains. They are smooth and comfortable. And of course, they have rad squat toilets also.
This is a view over the ocean and the peninsula is where our friend goes to school. so lucky.

This was at the temple, which overlooked the ocean. But, they have them everywhere. Every neighborhood has a god that protects them...so, there is one in every neighborhood. There is a fire in the middle and people throw in fake money. I wish it was real because it would be funnier.
These are some of the teachers- minus the kid on the top left who was the random guy we met from Idaho.You can see how the shrine is just in the middle of everything.

Here is my special tree on the hike. Really, I just saw it twice, but i did think it was cool.

Here is one of the views from the hike. Every view was SO incredible.

So windy. I was a little afraid of falling off the cliff. I didn't so don't worry.

I will limit my posting of funny sign pictures, but this one is too funny. what the heck? It didn't make any sense to where it was.

ahhhh. so pretty.

This was the super awesome firework show. It looked like a mini Nile river in Cairo.

Here is me and my little Sunny. You can click on the picture and see how wet we were from walking home. haha.

What a dream. Sunny and I left on Friday night and found our way to the train station for the first time. I love figuring out how to do something where no one speaks your language and people are constantly staring at you- seriously. I have now made four children cry. Either the kids LOVE you or they are scared to death of you. So we found the right train and went to Changua where five other teachers live. We got some super delicious food and then woke up the next morning at 6 am. Awesome. We went to the train station again and took a train to Kaohsiung, where the world games are going on right now! Our friend Julia goes to college down there and came with us to show us around. We met athletes from all over the world- acrobatic gymnasts from Great Britain, Dragon Boaters from Ukraine who tried to get us to drink with them (they were super loud and funny), artistic rollerskaters from Germany (seriously), tug-of-war team from Switzerland, and some people from France, Canada, Scotland, etc. We went to the new stadium there built for the games that is all solar powered. There was supposed to be a typhoon coming in and the wind was crazy. Suprisingly, this was great because it meant somewhat cooler weather. (Don't think that we all still didn't sweat a ton).

We then went to lunch at this taiwanese place and met up with Julia's friend Charles who was hilarious. He was our little tour guide the whole day. He took us to this beautiful temple up on a hill overlooking the ocean. There was also this building built by the english next to the temple. so pretty. His school is on a penninsula that goes into the ocean- the views on all sides of the hill were breathtaking. While we were up there, this guy yelled out Americans and we stopped and talked to him. Seriously, this world is so small. He just happened to be from Idaho, mormon, and 23. random. He is studying chinese for a couple of months in southern taiwan...he stays with this cute taiwanese family every weekend. The mom, Candy, thought Charles was our tour guide so she asked if he would mind if they joined. haha. I told her no, but they could still come of course. So we left at 6 that morning with 7 people and ended up with 12. After this we went to his school where part of the games were going on. We walked through this tunnel that went to another part of the city. We walked to the bay and got on a ferry that took us to another island. The other island was SO SO pretty. There was a huge street market, the oldest temple in the city...for the goddess of mothers.

As we were walking down the street, this asian guy yelled out to us- poor sunny- he looks asian so everyone asumes he speaks chinese. Some of the Ukranians were there and wanted him to come translate (ukr to eng to chi??). So we went over and they just shouted the whole time, laughing. Some 50 year old just put his arm around me and laughed- had I not decided to abstain from alcohol, I think they would have been happy to get me drunk. Then it started to POUR. Every one ran underneath the awnings and waited it out for 5 minutes. The wind was soo strong- I got knocked over an embarassing amt of times. We walked down to the ocean which had black sand and I ran straight into the water. I sure love the ocean. The waves were crazy because of the wind. I kept asking Charles if we were going to die from a typhoon and he would just tell me no and he would protect me. haha. Important to note that at this point I had 8 or so blisters including one blood blister in between my toes. o gosh. We hiked up this hill that was so incredibly green and beautiful. There was this old fortress that the Japanese bombed and tons of trees and beautiful stone paths. On the way out, the sun just happened to be setting over the ocean. I miss ocean sunsets- they are incredible. Charles finally let us take a break and watch the sunset. He made us leave and we walked through town and onto the ferry. We ate a delicious dinner and I got to go to the bathroom in the greatest bathroom ever. Almost all bathrooms in taiwan have only squaters- super awesome. It was this squater toilet in dirt with this old wood door that didn't shut. Candy held it for me and I washed my hands in this random sink that was sitting in the dirt and a little bar of soap. All of this experience will help me in the future when I have to camp and there are no bathrooms. Sorry, maybe that is too much information, but it's true.

After dinner we went to the train station- on the way we saw this old man using a violin string thingy to play a SAW. seriously. It was so cool. Then we caught this woman trying to take pictures of us with her cellphone. We asked her if she wanted to be in the pictures- haha. Next, we went to Love river where there were incredible fireworks. SO pretty. It was a perfect ending to the day. Oh yea, I can't forget that I got ice cream too and a massage, all in one night. Not bad, eh? We didn't get back to our friends apt. till 3 am, which was super fun. not. But, it was worth it. Sunny and I kept saying how perfect it was...and then we had to walk to the train station on sunday (after I wandered through the city, by myself to find the church), which we know appropriately call, the 'hell' walk (excuse the language). It was 40 minutes of boiling sun and sweat dripping down us. When we finally cooled down, we were so happy. And then, we got off the train at home and 5 minutes later it was pouring down rain. haha. I laughed so much. We were waiting out the rain under a big tree and then I had enough and we just walked home in it. Sunny wrapped a poncho around my backpack to protect my camera and harry potter. I love asia.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I am a teacher. Yikes.

I cut myself out because I am definitely not as cute as these kids.

Here is half of the classroom. pretty fancy.

Here is one of our two bulletin boards. Haha. I wanted the class to pick a 'team name' and they all decided on Pokemon. perfect. I knew my love for that card game, show, etc. would be able to manifest itself here.

Here is the other half of the classroom.

Isn't she adorable? I mean the one on the left. Please don't look at my face. I've been tired for 3 weeks now.

Larson = crazy.
She is much, much cuter than she looks. haha.

My first grade class is so cute. Of course, they are first graders so they have some first grade issues- like freaking out and going crazy for no reason. I really have 7 students, but there are only four in the picture. I was helping them understand commas, periods, italicized words, and how to read them. Now, you can definitely hear that pause I told them to take when they come to a comma. It is so cute. They get these tokens if they catch another student using 'chinglish,' which is basically speaking english with the grammar rules of chinese. Now, everyone reads much more carefully because they don't want to be corrected by another student. I think my favorite thing that has happened though, took place today. I have been trying to get the kids to pronounce 'appropriately,' as well as some other words. As I was spelling it out on the board, I turned around and saw that Becca was writing something on her hand. I walked over to her and realized that she had written words all over her hand and one on her arm. It was all of the words that the students had trouble with...she was so cute. She just wanted to remember them and practice later.

I do feel bad for these kids. It is summertime for them, but they are still at school ALL day (as in 8am-7 pm). It seems like many of them to not get much discipline at home because they are really never at home. The discipling is expected to happen at schools, which leaves us with some CRAZY students. Basically, we are allowed to discipline the kids however we want, minus hitting (which, they aren't too strict on). The secretaries at the school do that on occasion. It is definitely a different lifestyle here. There are entrance exams into the better junior highs so kids are competing their whole lives. They are sure smart, but they miss out on so many things.

I was showing my first graders a song clip from High School Musical so they could do a writing assignment on it. The subtitles were on and after a minute or so, they tried to sing along with the song. They couldn't quite do it, but they sure looked cute trying. One of my students also pointed out that a girl on the movie was fat. I told her that was not a nice thing to say and to not say things like that about people because it hurts their feelings. Another little girl pointed out that, yes, she was fat, but she was also probably nice. haha...she also wrote that in her writing assignment. At least she realizes fat people can be nice. geez. I realized that me telling the girl to not say things like that would not be very affective. I need to figure out a different approach. Almost everyone in Taiwan is thin. They don't experience other cultures like we get to in America. I was in the computer lounge and some students were in there with a teacher watching a Michael Jackson video. The boy asked why he was black. They also think people who are tan are ugly. What a change from America... Homeless people are tan and therefore, if you are tan, you must be homeless. There are MILLIONS of scooters everywhere and all of the people riding on them cover their entire body. Being white is beautiful to them. I have decided to take my kids on a trip around the world (figuratively, of course). They think this way because they don't know any other way...so we will see what our ''trip'' does.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

For Jae:

(Click picture to see the bottle)

Even if you come to Taiwan, you can have Vitamin Water...it just looks a little different.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Hospital.

Sitting in the waiting room with just a little thin robe on. Sunny was not very happy at the hospital. Privacy is not really an issue here. perfect.

I covered up as much as I could.

One of the secretaries took us to the hospital and was laughing at me and taking pictures. (If you click on the picture you can see the needle in me.) You get a number (like a fast food place)...they call your number, you sit down next to a bunch of other people getting their blood drawn, they do it and you are out in 1 minute. Very efficient. They do not care if it hurts or not- which, I think is kind of good- toughens the kids.

I've never had more fun. I laughed the whole time we were there. Of course I had only been in the country for ten or so hours so I was probably a little loopy (I know, I am never like that), but still. I am applying for residency so I needed to get a physical. For some reason we had to go to the hospital. It is really cheap (as in under ten dollars with no insurance) to go basically anywhere- dentist, acupuncture, doctor visit, all prescriptions covered, and actually pretty safe and clean. I got my blood drawn, an uncomfortable x-ray, height/weight on this nifty machine, blood pressure, and I even had an interview in chinese and hand signals. Basically it was just a fun experience. My favorite part will still be sitting in the waiting room in a very thin robe with 30 people around me.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Welcome to my new home.

Here is my school- Berhan Language School! I live on the fourth floor. I heard today that it is the most prestigious english school in the city. I should have known since they have me working for them.

If you are reading this, then you are probably on a picture on my wall. Also, it is a good thing that I have a mosquito net since I already have 25 bites.
Here is the rest of the room. You can call it my bachelor pad, but for a girl.

The living room. Super exciting.

the bathroom. Even more exciting.

A kitchen.

With all of the necessities.

Taiwan LOVES to recycle, everything. It takes me more time to figure out where my garbage goes then to actually eat. There is one for food garbage, trash, glass, aluminum, plastic, clean paper, and dirty paper. O yea, the garbage truck plays music that sounds like the ice cream man. It is super rad. And, they will not take your trash unless it is separated correctly. geez. I'm going green.

The classy hallway.

Washer/Dryer room/balcony minus the dryer.

My backyard. What more could you ask for? A basketball hoop, 20 bikes, and fake grass.

Part of the roof.

People love to dry their stuff on their balcony.

Our roof....just like an Asian New York City. It is a nice place to work out at 6 am when it is still semi-cool. I'm thinking about planting a garden- sans Just Like Heaven.

Our classy classy tilework.

Just a cute little toilet for the little kids. It is seriously super tiny.

My new pad is definitely different from anywhere I have ever lived before. Thankfully we have air conditioning and I keep it at 21 degrees so I can stop sweating when I've walked up the four flights of stairs in 300 percent humidity. I have 9 other roommates who are from all over- Washington, Idaho, Utah, California, Hawaii, etc. I'm going to teach kindergarten and 1st grade starting tomorrow. I might or might not have some students named Zero, Lion, and Aragon (without the r). I live in a city called Feng Yuan that has about 400,000, all Asian. I have seen one other white person besides the teachers at my school. The people here are so kind and helpful. Most people do not speak English, which makes it difficult, but also makes for some funny situations...I am determined to learn Chinese. I will be starting a Chinese class at the University and Tai Chi every week in the next month. I get a lot of good stares, mostly by old people and little kids. A lot has happened and I have seen so much already, but it will have to wait for another day. I'm still getting over jet lag. A week later.