1. Can You Speak English? 你會說英文嗎? (Taitung Style, November 十一月 2010)
English is a very popular language. It is, in one sense at least, the most popular language, with about 1,800,000,000 speakers worldwide. Compare this to Chinese, of which there are 1,345,000,000 speakers worldwide. 英文是一門熱門的語言. 它是世界上最多人使用的語言. 目前說英文的人口有18億,比起說英文的人口,說中文的人數只有13億4500萬.
One thing that might surprise you, however, is the fact that Chinese has more native speakers than English does. 845,000,000 people speak Chinese as their first language, compared to 328,000,000 people speaking English as their first language. With regard to native speakers, even Spanish has about a million more native speakers than English does. 可是以中文為母語的人口比以英文為母語的人口多. 以中文為母語的有845,000,000人. 這個人數比328,000,00以英文為母語的人數大得多. 連以西班牙文為母語者還是比英文多100萬.
All of which means that English isn't necessarily the most "popular" language in the world, just the most studied. Certainly the combined economic might of Western countries is one reason for this. The giant shadow cast by Hollywood films and other forms of American media is another. 從這比較數字來看, 英文不是最"熱門"的語言. 卻是最多人學習的. 這與西方國家的經濟與科技發展有關. 也受美國電影跟音樂影響很大.
I just wonder if people sometimes miss the point of studying English. Yes, proficiency in English will open up a number of opportunities, but people seem to forget that the opportunities realized through English study are not the only ones out there. I've known Taiwanese people with a skill in music or dance, for example, who've not only traveled the world but also made a fair amount of money doing so. Scooter mechanics, to use another example, can be quite successful without any proficiency in English. 我想很多人搞不清楚為甚麼要學英文. 當然學好英文在工作上比較有發展機會, 可是不一定什麼機會都需要靠英文. 有的人很會跳舞或唱歌, 有的人很會畫畫還是修理機器. 有這種能力的人也能生活得很好, 不管他們的英文程度如何.
All I'm saying is that it might be worthwhile to contemplate the relevance of English to your daily life and goals. Some people use English to get into a good college, some people use English to get a job, and some people just use English to make friends or see the world in a different way. What you use English for depends on your own attitudes, likes, and dislikes. You can use English for many purposes, you just need to be clear about what those purposes are. 我的意思是確認您的學習目標有助於您的學習成果,有的人學習英文是為了進入大家公認的好學校,有的人則是為了工作上的需要,也有很多人是為了交朋友和拓展視野,您的學習態度和喜好影響您學習英文的方向,您可以為了很多不同的原因學英文,但是首先必須知道你的學習目的是什麼.
2. Hamburgers in Taitung 臺東的漢堡 (Taitung Style, December 十二月 2010)
I want to emphasize, for the sake of my Taiwanese friends, that when Americans use the word "hamburger" we usually mean a beef hamburger. The word in Chinese, "han bao" might refer to any hamburger, be it beef, pork, chicken, or even ostrich, but for Americans "hamburger" implies beef. When a hamburger is not beef, then we modify the word accordingly: i.e. "chicken hamburger," or "pork hamburger," or even "ostrich hamburger."我要對臺灣的朋友解釋一下Hamburger這個字,對美國人來說,它代表的是牛肉漢堡.臺灣朋友把雞肉,牛肉,豬肉或是鴕鳥肉......等的同類食物都當成漢堡,但是對美國人來說卻是大大的不同.如果漢堡麵包中夾的不是牛肉,那你就會看到各種不一樣的名稱,例如:雞肉漢堡,豬肉漢堡或是鴕鳥漢堡.
Up until recently, the Italian restaurant on the way to the train station (near the intersection of Geng Sheng Road and Ss Hang Road), would have gotten my vote for the best hamburger in Taitung. Sadly, the couple that owned this restaurant decided to close it down this fall, and I can only wish them the best of luck in another location.目前為止,往臺東火車站路上的義大利餐廳是我認為有最好吃的漢堡的餐廳,但是他們已經不再營業了,祝他們在別的地方有更好的發展.
The Hokie Diner, one of the three remaining restaurants in Taitung that serve hamburgers, has moved from Shin Sheng Road to one of the small alleys behind Jung Hua Road, not far from Who's Pub. Their hamburgers are on the small side, but their prices are reasonable. I've heard that they are also selling food at the night market on Sundays, though last time I went I didn't see them there.The Hokie Diner是臺東三家提供漢堡餐點的餐廳的其中之一,他們從新生路搬到Who's Pub附近的小巷子裡,他們的漢堡比較小,但是價錢公道,我聽說他們也在夜市擺攤.
Besides the Hokie, there is also the Pirates Restaurant on Kai Feng Street, run by another American. The Pirates Restaurant seems to do a steady business, though their hours are very strange. Their food is on the pricey side, but their hamburgers are very good.另外在開封街還有一家美國人開的"海道",他們的生意很好,雖然他們的價位比較高,但是他們的漢堡真的很好吃.
Of course if Pirates is too expensive for you, then there is always McDonald's. I just wonder how much actual beef they put into a Big Mac, because I have never found eating one to be a satisfying experience. If I were you, I would avoid McDonald's anyway. Their food just isn't healthy.如果你認為"海道"有點貴,那還有麥當勞可供選擇.但是我懷疑麥當勞的大麥克漢堡到底有多少牛肉在裡面,因為他們的漢堡不能帶給我滿足感,如果我是你,我會避免麥當勞的餐點,因為他們的食物跟健康沾不上邊.
3. When, What, Who, Where, Why, and How (Taiwan Style, December 十二月 2010)
I came to Taiwan in 1999. This was two weeks before the now-famous 9-21 Earthquake, in memory of which there is now a museum in central Taiwan. This was also just two weeks after I graduated from the University of Washington, with a B.A. in International Studies.
My first job in Taiwan was teaching for Jump Start English School in Taichung 臺中. I was one of their kindergarten teachers, teaching kids ages 4-5, for eight hours a day, five days a week.
I am an American, born and raised in Seattle, Washington. I have two daughters, aged 5 and 10, and I am married to a Taiwanese national. I have been Taiwan about 8 years all together, though these 8 years are spaced out over the 11 years from my arrival in Taiwan to the present.
I live in Taitung 臺東, Taiwan, which is on the east coast of the island, down near the bottom. I have lived in Taitung for nearly four years. I have also lived in Taichung and Hsinchu 新竹, on the other side of the island. I like it better here. The air is fresher.
Why do I live in Taiwan? I suppose it just suits me better. I have already lived here so long that Taiwanese people just make more sense to me. I also prefer the weather and the food. People back home often strike me as "cold" or "distant," the weather almost invariably SUCKS, and I think the food in Taiwan is both more delicious and better for you.
How do I do? I'm fine, thank you. And you?
Taipei is the biggest city in Taiwan. Taipei is also bigger than Seattle, my hometown.
Taiwan's central government is located in Taipei, as are most of the major embassies or "institutes" representing other countries. Taipei is also the most modern of Taiwanese cities, though this isn't always a good thing. Just about anything in Taipei is accompanied by breathtaking numbers of people, and if you don't like crowds I would suggest you avoid the place altogether.
Up until a year or so ago, my brother-in-law lived in Banchiao 板橋, which could be called a "suburb" of Taipei City. The term "suburb" can be misleading, however, since most people in Banchiao live in apartment buildings that dwarf anything you'd find in the States.
My father-in-law also lives in Shu-lin 樹林, which is still in Taipei County, and not far from the famous ceramics center in Yingge 應歌. Thanks to the the above-mentioned two people, I have come to know Taipei fairly well, though certainly not as well as someone who lives there. I go to Taipei approximately twice a year, and I am due to return there next weekend for the Fubon Marathon 富邦台北馬拉松.
I think that Taipei is a nice place to visit, though I'm not sure whether I would like to live there. The weather there is a lot rainier than in other parts of Taiwan, and the crowds can be a serious obstacle to enjoying certain things. I can recall visiting a comic book expo at the Taipei Exhibition Hall 臺北世貿 once, and because of the crowds the only thing I could see was the backs of other peoples' heads.
Even so, you can have a lot of fun in Taipei. I like the Miramar Department Store 美麗華, and I think it is far better than anything you'd find in eastern, central, or southern Taiwan. I also think the Shr Lin Night Market 士林夜市 is very fun if you avoid it during peak times. Danshui 淡水 is also a great place to unwind.
I have a lot of memories in Taipei - many of them good - so I can't say that the place is all bad. I enjoy riding the MRT around, and poking through the larger bookstores. There is also a much wider selection of international foods in Taipei. In Taipei I can eat real Indian food made by real Indians, or American food made by real Americans, or even real Indonesian food made by people just off the plane from Jakarta.
Taipei can be a challenge, but Taipei can be fun.
5. Teaching English (Taiwan Style, December 十二月 2010)
I have had many jobs in Taiwan, all of them to do with teaching. What, one might well ask, can Americans such as myself DO in Taiwan, apart from teaching English? Answer: not... very... much.
Sure, we can open restaurants or start short-lived English-language newspapers, we can open pubs or work as engineers, but the fact remains that about 99.99999% of us are teaching English in one form or another. This isn't a bad thing, just a reflection of economic and cultural realities.
English, after all, is big business in Taiwan.
So my job history, given where I live, is unsurprising. My first job in Taiwan was teaching English, and I have never left that profession. I actually like teaching English, even if my doing so doesn't exactly make me special.
1. My first job
My first job in Taiwan was teaching for Jump Start English School 柏克萊美語學校 in Taichung 臺中. I taught kindergarten there full-time. My classes were never more than 18 students, and I genuinely enjoyed what I was doing. I worked at this place for four years, and if they had pursued a better business strategy I would probably still be there today.
2. My second job
My second job was teaching part-time in the vocational school 專科學校 not far from Jump Start. This was an easy job, but they never paid me on time. My first class consisted of more than 100 students during a single two-hour class, and yes, that was extremely stressful. Fortunately the number of students dropped after they realized I wasn't Superman.
3. My third job
My third job was working at Canadian-American English School 加美美語學校 in Hsinchu 新竹. This was after I returned from two years of graduate school in Seattle, so by this time I had more than a few ideas about how and what I wanted to teach. This was without a doubt the most disastrous job I've ever had in Taiwan. The students were fast disappearing, the bosses were uncommunicative, and by the time I left the school was about to close - forever.
4. My fourth job
My fourth job was working for the Taitung County Government 臺東縣政府. My wife and I had always wanted to move to the east coast of the island, and working for the County also seemed like a step-up in my career. I was placed in Tung Hai Junior High School 東海國中 in Taitung City 臺東市, where I worked for two years. It was a good job, if a bit repetitive.
5. My fifth job
My fifth job involved teaching classes for both the English Department and the Language Center 語言中心 at Taitung University 臺東大學. There was a lot of preparation involved, but then again my classes were full of very sexy college girls. I was doing this at the same time I was working at the middle school.
6. My sixth and present job.
I still work for the Taitung County Government, though I am presently at Tung Hai Elementary School 東海國小. Financially speaking, it's the best job I've ever had. It's not quite as fun or meaningful as teaching kindergarten full-time, but as anyone who has done this in Taiwan knows, that job carries its own set of risks. I like it here, and I plan on staying as long as I can.
6. The 2010 Fubon Taipei Marathon 富邦台北馬拉松 (Taiwan Style, December 十二月 2010)
The Fubon Taipei Marathon 富邦台北馬拉松 is the first "city run" that I've ever participated in, and also the first 9K race I've yet run. Prior to my attendance at this event, I only participated in "fun runs," in more rural areas throughout Taiwan.
Wow, what a difference location makes.
First of all, if you are going to this thing you need to arrive very early. I made the mistake of arriving half an hour before the race, and it was SLAMMED. Really, the phrase in Chinese, "ren shan ren hai" 人山人海 (people from the mountains to the sea), doesn't even begin to describe the crowds at this event. There were so many people attending that it took me over ten minutes just to get from the staging area to the starting line, and this was well after the race had officially started. Even after I'd crossed the starting line, I found running at my pace impossible due to the number of people around me.
Secondly, if you go to this thing, make sure you know what to do with your luggage. The baggage check-in at this race was a joke, and NO ONE seemed to know that they had to pay 100 NT to have their baggage secured. This fee led to a great deal of confusion on everyone's part, with thousands of people frantically running back and forth trying to find the money to pay, trying to fit their stuff into the right bag, and trying to get the hell out of there so they could run. It was, in short, a colossal mess.
Thirdly, the only people who will do well in this race are those willing to arrive two hours early, and who are moreover willing to push their way through ten thousand or so other people. I have been to heavy metal concerts that were more subdued.
All of which is not to say that I didn't enjoy this event. I actually had a great time. It's fun to run right through the center of Taipei, and the enthusiasm of both the spectators and the participants more than makes up for the fact that this isn't the fairest athletic competition I've been to. Think of it as more of an exhibition, and you'll probably be more satisfied with your performance.
And if I could suggest anything to the people that put on this marathon, it is that you really, really ought to limit the number of people taking part in this thing. More people can sometimes make for more fun, but there is a definite limit to how many people can safely and profitably run a marathon.
Are cram schools necessary? I really don't know. All I know is that we don't really have cram schools in Seattle, and that this doesn't seem to be a problem for anyone there. Maybe this is because the United States is much less "test-centric" than Taiwan, or maybe it's because of other cultural factors. Again, I'm not sure. 真的需要補習班嗎? 西雅圖那邊沒有什麼補習班. 在西雅圖,人們對補習班這種地方沒什麼概念. 可能是因為那邊不是那麼地重視考試成績. 這也許跟民俗習慣有關, 只是我在這方面沒有仔細研究過.
I just feel sorry for kids that attend cram schools until 8, 9, or 10 p.m. every night. Seeing them walk around with those heavy backpacks, and watching them trudge onwards to their next class, in their next school, just makes me sad. 我只是覺得晚上8點過後還在上課的學生很可憐. 看他們背那麼重的書包, 上那麼多的課, 和去那麼多不同的學校.
Life, after all, should be about more than going to school. Life is also about friends, and family, and having fun, and going places. But it seems like some people want to turn life into one huge cram school, where we are always preparing for the next test. 除了上課, 人生還有很多重要的事, 例如:朋友, 跟家人相處,休閒和旅行. 很多爸爸媽媽只重視孩子的課業表現,好像人生只有補習才是唯一的重心..
I realize that parents just want the best for their children. I realize that success in school is important. I realize, moreover, that tests are important in Taiwan. Still, I don't know why so many kids need to attend so many classes. Sometimes it seems like the only thing that people in Taiwan know how to do is take classes, or tests, or how to worry about both classes and tests. Their parents forced them to do it, and so they force their own kids to do it. 我了解每位家長都想讓自己的孩子得到最好的. 我知道學習的成就很重要. 我也知道在臺灣考試的成績更是重要.但是我不知道的是為什麼有的豥子要上那麼多課? 有時候我覺得臺灣朋友只知道上課跟考試這兩件事情. 因為他們自己的父母有這種想法, 所以他們也是這樣子教他們自己的孩子.
Sometimes people ask me about what English cram school they should go to. I am never able to tell them. I have never taught in a cram school, and if I can help it I will never put my daughters into one. 有時我的臺灣朋友問我哪一個英文補習班最好. 我沒辦法回答這個問題. 我沒有在補習班任教的經驗. 我也不是很想把我的孩子送到任何補習班.
I'm sure there are cram schools that help some students. I just hope they are thinking about their curriculum half as much as their business plans. There is a lot of money to be made in cram schools, and not always honestly. Besides that, I can think of a thousand other things kids would rather be doing than attending cram schools - things like playing video games, or going to the park, or playing with their friends, or spending time with their parents, or sleeping more, or reading comic books, or... 有的補習班當然幫孩子很多忙 ,也有的補習班只想賺錢, 他們很願意講你要聽的好話. 我只希望他們對學生的關心是跟賺錢的熱忱成正比. 孩子們除了上課之外, 還有很多應該做的事,例如:玩電動玩具, 去公園玩, 跟朋友玩, 跟爸爸媽媽聊天, 多一點的睡覺時間, 看漫畫書...
8. Chinese New Year 中國新年 (Taiwan Style, December 十二月 2010)
At this point in my life, Chinese New Year is probably my favorite holiday. I get a big vacation because of it, all the stores go crazy with sales, I see people I haven't seen in a while, and I generally have a good time.
I'm told that next year is the Year of the Rabbit. I think this is supposed to be bad for me, because I was born in the Year of the Rabbit and that means that I need to be "careful." Then again, I first arrived in Taiwan during the Year of the Rabbit, and in that sense it has proved to be a very fortunate time for me.
The Year of the Rabbit, after all, was the year in which I met the woman who was to later become my wife. She was also born in the Year of the Rabbit. We were married just a few months after the last Year of the Rabbit - in 2000 - and during the following Year of the Dragon we had our first child, now more than 11 years ago.
It's a funny thing about time. The harder we try to hold on to it, the faster it slips away. The last Year of the Rabbit still feels like yesterday to me, even though I was only 25 then and almost 36 now.
Chinese New Year always finds me in a reflective mood - thinking over all the years between my arrival in Taiwan and the present. I think back to drunken meals around a table in Yunlin 雲林, listening to my wife's uncle talk about his trips to China. I think about watching kids light fireworks in Shu-lin 樹林. I think about people I've lost touch with, on both sides of the Pacific.
The Year of the Rabbit is coming, and if we think about it, we have many reasons to be happy. Life is never perfect, there are always problems to be faced, but life is also good, and no problem is ever so big or so permanently so. I think of this as I remember all the Chinese New Years before today, when I saw so many problems fall by the wayside, when I reunited with so many old friends, and when I remembered - for another year - that this is a good world to live in.
Here's wishing you a Happy New Year. You rabbits keep your heads down. You be "careful," and I'll do the same.
9. Bad Foreigners 壞外國人 (Taitung Style, December 十二月 2010)
Are all foreigners in Taiwan nice? Are all foreigners polite, and punctual, and hard-working? Of course not. Applying generalities to large groups of people, be they Chinese, foreign, or from other planets, never works all the time. 在臺灣的外國人都很熱心嗎? 我們都很客氣, 很準時, 在工作上很用心嗎? 不盡然. 有的外國人很熱心, 有的很冷漠. 有的在工作上很盡責.我們看待事情就像任何臺灣人一樣.
So you might understand why I get so perturbed when I hear such generalities applied to us foreigners. No, we are not all nice. No, we are not all polite, or punctual, or hard-working. Not all of us speak English, and not all of us eat hamburgers every day. 所以你應該知道我不喜歡聽"外國人都很熱心"這種話. 每個外國人都不一樣. 不一定很熱心, 不一定很客氣,或很準時. 也不一定講英文或是每天吃漢堡. 外國人群中,什麼人都有.
Some of us, in fact, are BAD. 也有"壞的"外國人
I have met at least a few foreigners that I would classify as "bad," or at least "undesirable" for various reasons. I came across most of these foreigners on the other side of the island, but I have also met a few in Taitung. 我當然碰過一些壞外國人. 我叫他們"壞外國人"的原因很多. 大多在西部碰到這樣的人, 臺東當然也有這種人存在.
My list of "bad foreigners" includes: "壞外國人"的條件如下:
1. The foreigner who starts fights with Taiwanese drivers over minor traffic violations (i.e. "That Taiwanese guy cut me off!"). I met a guy like this at the Taitung Airport, and instead of sticking around to face the music, he just ran away and left his friend to discuss the matter with the police. 為了小車禍打架的外國人. 我去年在臺東機場碰過這種人. 他跟一位臺灣人打架, 最後他怕被抓就跑走了. 膽小的他把自己的朋友留在機場跟警察解釋整件事.
2. The foreigner who tries to steal Taiwanese guys' girlfriends, and then starts fights with their boyfriends when the girls aren't interested. This is just stupid, and has on one occasion gotten foreigners like this beaten very badly. 追臺灣人的女朋友的外國人. 當女人不接受他的時候, 又跟她的男朋友打架,而且差點被打死,這真是一件很沒有面子的事!
3. The foreigner who skips out on his/her contract and flees to Thailand. I know several foreigners who have done this. They just disappear and leave their school to pick up the pieces. I could understand if their school was treating them unfairly, but this is rarely the case. 還有一些人惡意違反工作合約,工作到一半就落跑到泰國,留下爛攤子給學校處理,如果是因為學校工作條件太差還能了解,但往往並不是這樣的原因.
4. The foreigner who molests children. I heard of a guy in Taichung who was doing this. He did it at every school he worked for. When he got caught he ran away, moved to another part of Taiwan, and started doing the same thing at another school. Anyone who runs into this guys is welcome to castrate him. Please do. 摸小朋友的外國人. 我住臺中的時候,聽說過這樣的事. 他每次被工作的學校發現時就搬家, 不停地在各個學校下手. 我希望他下次被發現的時候有人剪掉他的小鳥.
5. The foreigner who complains about everything in Taiwan that isn't like everything else in his/her home country. Of course, this kind of foreigner makes up about 70% of the foreigners in Taiwan, so I can't judge him/her TOO harshly. Still, get used to it. You're not in Canada, the States, or England anymore, and YOU signed yourself up for it. Calm down and enjoy where you are? 只會抱怨臺灣不像自己國家的外國人. 在臺灣很多這種外國人, 我要對他們說:你們這些外國人應該知道自己選的地方是臺灣, 不是你自己的國家! 不要一直想這兩國家的差別. 選擇你所愛,愛你所選擇,臺灣有它自己的好.
I could go on. But I think I'll stop my list here for now. Besides, I'd rather think about the foreigners that AREN'T on this list. You know - the ones that are nice, polite, and hard-working? 我不想再說, 所以我在第五點上停下來. 我要想想不在這名單的外國朋友. 你認識他們嗎? 那些熱心, 客氣, 跟有責任感的外國朋友.
10. Taitung County 臺東縣 (Taiwan Style, January 一月 2011)
Taitung County 臺東縣 is where I live. It is on the southeast coast of Taiwan, between Hualien 花蓮 and Ping Tung 屏東 Counties. It is also one of the least developed parts of Taiwan, with a population far below other counties such as Taipei 臺北 or Kaohsiung 高雄.
The word "Taitung" 臺東 (which should probably be spelled "Taidong") refers to both the county and the city. Taitung City is roughly in the middle of Taitung County, and people often get the two confused. There are a little over 200,000 people living in Taitung City, which is by far the most densely populated place in the whole county.
I like living in Taitung. I have also lived in Taichung City 台中市 and Hsinchu City 新竹市, and I can tell you that the east coast of Taiwan is much better. Sure, I sometimes miss the nightlife on the west coast, but I wouldn't trade it for the fresh air, and the refreshing lack of traffic.
Which isn't to say that Taitung is perfect. There are still poor people here, and there is still pollution. There are still ignorant people, and there are still problems to be faced. By and large, however, I would gladly trade Taitung's problems for those of Taichung or Hsinchu.
All in all, it's a good place to live. I can't, for that matter, imagine living anywhere else. I hope I never have to!
11. TTL (Taiwan Style, January 一月 2011)
The TTL Corporation produces and sells a wide variety of beer, wine, and other alcoholic drinks throughout Taiwan. TTL stands for "Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor," a name which reflects the Corporation's former status as the producer of most alcoholic drinks and cigarettes in Taiwan. Up until Taiwan's joining the WTO, the TTL Corporation possessed a near-monopoly over the beer, liquor, and cigarette markets in Taiwan.
These days, TTL just doesn't have that kind of power. They still produce Taiwan Beer, which is by far the cheapest and most popular beer in Taiwan, but their dominance in other areas is slowly fading. It used to be that the lion's share of products in any supermarket's "beer and wine" sections was supplied by TTL, but recent years have seen a greater market for products from Mainland China in Taiwan. Tsingtao Beer 青島, for instance, is not only increasingly popular in Taiwan, but also produced domestically. Besides Tsingtao, there are also several other brands of beer that are produced - in Taiwan - by other companies.
TTL also makes a lot of rice-wine and rice-wine based liquors. I have tried most of them, and I have to say they're not for me. I like their Jhu Ye Ching wine 竹葉青酒, and also their leechee wine. Their new "Mollac" wine is alright, but I'm not fond of their other products. I'm more of a whiskey drinker anyway, so this should come as no surprise.
I've been to their brewery in Jhunan, Miao Li County 苗栗縣竹南鄉, and also to their rice wine distillery in Hualien 花蓮. I enjoyed the brewery in Jhunan a great deal, but then again I am a big fan of Taiwan Beer. I don't know if they do this all the time, but while I was there it was an "all you can drink for free" situation, and I made all haste to get myself really, really trashed.
There's not much to say about the rice wine distillery. It's worth visiting if you find yourself in north Hualien, but unless you drink a lot of Tunnel 88 you probably won't want to stay there for long. Their restaurant is very nice, and features Taiwan Beer on tap. This beer is quite different from that found in your local 7-11, and the staff at the distillery are happy to give you a tour, and tell you how Taiwan's most famous beer is made.
I just wish I could get back to that brewery in Jhunan. Unfortunately I live in Taitung 臺東, and Jhunan is about as far from my house as you can get and still be on the island.
12. Living Well in Taiwan (Taiwan Style, January 一月 2011)
I've been in Taiwan a long time, and during my time here I have often reflected on my situation as a foreign resident of this country. I'm not just talking about applying for my next visa, or having a job for the next year, but also about living well - about being happy - in Taiwan.
I don't think it's a given that someone from a Western country will be happy in Taiwan. In fact, I have known many people, from many Western countries, who are miserable here. In the end it comes down to your goals in life, your interests, and your ability to adjust to life in a different culture.
I could never grudge anyone for having life goals that are different from my own. This is to be expected. Still, there are many foreigners who could have done better than coming to Taiwan in the first place. They may have had reasons for coming here, but in the end these reasons were never clearly thought out. In the end their life goals conflicted with being in this place, and they would have done better to ask themselves whether or not Taiwan really fit in with their plans.
These are the sort of people who end up disappearing. They take a job here, they make (what they think) are sincere promises, and in the end they disappear. I suppose this is also to be expected. Some of them are very young, just out of college in fact, and they just don't know themselves well enough to be in it for the long haul. Still, they can cause others a lot of grief.
Personal interests also play a role in being happy here. If you have no interests that can be pursued in Taiwan, then obviously you won't be happy here. I have met some foreigners who only like sports that can be played in much colder climates, or who only eat foods that can be found in Western countries, or who can only relate to people with Western interests identical to their own. Obviously such people are going to be unhappy here - unless they go about making some changes.
The ability to adjust to another culture is probably the deciding factor in whether someone is happy here or not. I have met some foreigners who are either unwilling or unable to do this. The truly amazing thing to me is that some of them live here for years - even decades - without ever really participating in Taiwan. They eat food at places like McDonald's or else eat at home, they only talk to other foreigners, and they almost never, ever go out. I can only feel sorry for such people, because nine times out of ten it is fear that is driving them, and fear that is keeping them where they are.
Of course, beyond the general points raised above, there are a multitude of finer points relative to living well in this country. There are things like learning the language, or getting used to the food, or even learning to give people red envelopes at their wedding. No one said living here was easy, but learning to make your life easier can be a joyful process.
13. Elementary School Vs. Junior High 國小Vs.國中 (Taitung Style, February 二月 2011)
I spent two years teaching at Tung Hai Junior High School, and I also taught (VERY briefly) at a junior high in Seattle. These days I am teaching elementary, but this is not because I think junior high kids are horrible! 我在臺東市的東海國中任教兩年. 也在美國西雅圖短時間當過國中老師. 我目前在國小教美語, 可是這並不是因為我不喜歡教國中生.
Most junior high kids have short attention spans. You might think they would be able to concentrate more than younger kids, but I have never found this to be the case. Hormones are often blamed for this, and surely the long, embarrassing process of becoming an "adult" plays a part. 大部分的國中生沒辦法專心上課. 也許你認為他們的專心度應該比國小生好很多. 也許這情況跟他們年紀有關係. 隨著賀爾蒙的變化,他們的身體和想法在改變, 也影響他們沒法專心上課.
In my elementary school, I would never pursue any activity for longer than fifteen minutes. In junior high, I wouldn't do anything longer than ten minutes. When junior high kids get bored, things can get really, really ugly. 在我任教的國小, 我不會讓任何課程活動超過十五分鐘. 在國中, 則是不超過十分鐘. 因為當國中生覺得無聊的時候,那就是真的很恐怖的時候.
One great thing about teaching in an elementary school is not having to break up fights as often. In my one and a half years at Tung Hai Elementary, I have broken up exactly one fight. In two years at Tung Hai Junior High, I broke up MANY fights, often involving students who were much larger than I was. 教國小的好處就是學生不那麼容易打架. 我已經在國小一年半, 我只看過一次學生打架. 而在國中那兩年則發生很多打架事件, 而且很多學生比我還高.
The biggest difference between elementary and junior high is, of course, the "sex issue." Sometimes girls and boys in my elementary will tell me they "love me," but they just mean in the way that they love many other adults. Girls in junior high have told me they "loved me," but that was in a strange, psuedo-adult way that made me VERY uncomfortable. 國中生跟國小生最明顯的不同是對性別的敏感度. 在國小,很多學生會跟我說"我愛你", 他們這麼說只是因為喜歡我. 而國中女生跟我說"我愛你"時, 卻不只是對老師的單純喜歡. 在這種狀況下,我覺得非常得不舒服與困擾.
Boys in junior high are fascinated by sex, and they will always try to use English class to find out about sex words they learned in movies. During my first year, it took me about a month to eliminate the word "fuck" from my presence, and even still I was pestered with questions related to words like "fag," "penis," and (strangest of all) "motel." 國中男生最喜歡使用他們在電影裡學的髒話. 我剛開始教國中時, 一直聽到"fuck"這個字. 花了我將近一個月的時間請他們不要說這個字. 除了它, 他們也很喜歡用"fag," "penis,"還有"motel"這樣的生字.
All of this said, teaching junior high kids really isn't all that different from teaching elementary kids. They have their own, weird sense of humor, and once you learn how to "speak their language" it's not so bad. They also have their own way of looking at the world, and there is a lot to be learned from it. 大致上教國小和教國中很像. 國中生有自己的看法, 自己的溝通語言和自己的幽默感. 只要你學會他們的語言,他們並不是人們想的那麼恐怖. 而且大人也可以從他們獨特的世界觀中獲得收或.
Related Entries 相關的文章:
Blog Archive 23 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 22 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 21 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 20 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 19 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 18 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 17 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 16 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 15 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 14 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 13 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 12 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 11 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 10 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 9 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 8 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 7 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 6 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 5 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 4 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 3 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 2 很久很久以前的文章
Blog Archive 1 很久很久以前的文章