We've been in Taiwan for five days now, but it feels like it's been five months. Each long day has been filled with so many new people, stories, and adventures that it's hard to know what to include here.
Our travel out to Taiwan began on Thursday afternoon last week with a tearful goodbye in Denver. Erin and I were off to Los Angeles and we were soon trying to figure out where to go in LAX. I've been in and out of the airport a few times, but I still have a hard time finding my way around and this time was no exception. We eventually made it to our flight and got settled in. Though our flight was long (close to 14 hours) we each had a television with plenty of movies, shows, music, and games to keep us entertained. Arriving in Taipei we met up with a few of our fellow new teachers before getting on the final leg of our trip to Kaohsiung. Upon arriving at our new home city and getting through immigration/customs we were met by the school's director to take us to our apartment. We were dropped off and walked up to our place and pleasantly surprised by the size. After 20 hours of traveling we were finally able to go to bed as it was 1am in the morning here.
The next morning (Saturday since we had lost a day traveling over the international date line) we got up and had a cab waiting to take us to the school. We got breakfast and got to meet many of the other new hires like us. Our day included a short trip to the photographer for our id pictures, information sessions about the school, and a tour of the campus. After lunch we all got in a bus and headed over to a grocery store for supplies. Unfortunately we didn't have much time so it felt a little like a scene from the Amazing Race as we tried to figure out what we needed, where it was located, how much it cost, and how to decipher the packaging to determine if it was actually what we wanted. We also got to check out a gym before being dropped off back at our apartment. We didn't have much time to unpack though before being picked back up for a buffet dinner at the director's place. After walking back to our place we were exhausted and ready to go to sleep.
Monday morning found us back at the school for introductions to the staff, our rooms, and other information about the living, driving and working in Taiwan. After spending some time getting our rooms ready we were taken out to Costco and IKEA. Again we had very little time to spend at the stores and it felt stressful trying to figure out what we might need in such a short amount of time. It didn't help that we're not normally Costco or IKEA shoppers. After getting dropped off at our place we still didn't have the necessary tools or food to make dinner so we went out to a pasta place. The "bacon" looked more like ham and the bread was a little weird, but I had an interesting orange tea drink and Erin enjoyed her ice cream desert.
Tuesday we were back learning more details about the school and other key organizations. Afterwards we were given more time to fix up our classrooms. The packages we had shipped had arrived by this time so Erin and I spent much of the rest of the afternoon unpacking. For dinner some of the existing teachers took us out to a place called Bayou. The food was all really good and the atmosphere would fool a person into thinking they were in a small restaurant in Louisiana. We took a long walk back home that night because it was such a filling meal and we wanted to get a better understanding of how the streets were layed out. We were exhausted by the time we got home though.
Today we've been working with the other teachers on scheduling and other details to prepare for the first day of school on Monday. I feel a bit divided as I am the IT Coordinator (an administration position), but also teaching at both the elementary level (4th-6th grades) and secondary level (7th & 8th grades combined). Its all very exciting though and I think it will all work out okay.
There are some funny stories that I know I've left out: like trying to find toilet paper our first night here, Erin's trip to get tea, our helpful door-guard Wilson, or finding lizards in our apartment. I'll leave those for another time though. We have to venture out once more and figure out what we're going to have for dinner tonight.