Like the firing of the gun at the Olympic 100m race, the beginning of the school year starts quickly. Ready or not, here they come. On Wednesday, our school year began. Nine days in a new country and school is simply not enough time to prepare for a year when teaching new classes and attempting to anticipate the interests of students. But, off we went and the first week was a good one. Krista and I are sharing many students and she teaches 6th and 7th grade Language Arts and I teach 6, 7 and 8th grade Science along with 6th grade math. Class sizes are small – ranging from nine to 15 students. I almost know all of the middle school students after the first week. The overwhelming majority of students in our classes are Taiwanese and speak remarkably good English as well as their native language, Mandarin Chinese. The possibilities for these students are amazing as they master two of the most used languages in the world.
Other than school, we have not had the opportunity to do much this week. Each morning, we walk down the street a few blocks to a small place that provides breakfast food. It’s a street food drive through that is constantly busy with people stopping on their way to work or school. The people who work there are nice and welcome us with large smiles each day and provide us with different breakfast choices. They want us to try everything!
In the evening, we return to the streets in search of food. Sure, we could go to the grocery stores and buy food to cook (we’ve actually done this once) but the available street food is quite good. We have visited a different place each day ranging from buffets, to “a choose your food and they cook it there”, to sitting down at a small table and laughing with the owners until they bring us something delicious to eat. One owner and his wife want us to learn Chinese and made us practice the names of the dishes before serving to us. Then, there is the tasty tropical fruit sold at multiple stands throughout the neighborhood. Pineapples, mangoes, bananas, kiwis... It has been quite nice to get fresh fruit on each outing into our community.
Audrey is doing well. Unfortunately, the quarantine location is on the opposite side of town so a few days a week we get a taxi for the cross-town trip. She is quickly putting on weight and has a different look about her. The trim physique earned through hours of swimming has morphed into the bulges of a couch potato in two weeks of limited activity and extra food. I guess that’s a warning to us all on the dangers of staying locked in a small area, eating too much and not exercising. The people who run the quarantine are nice and let us visit her after the posted visiting hours are over. Two more weeks are left and I’m sure she will come out a little confused but OK. She seems resigned to kennel life and doesn’t dash for the exit as we return from the small, concrete dog run. She is always excited to see us and will be ecstatic once we jail break her from there.
Friday ended with a special treat – our ARC cards have arrived. This opens our doors to transportation and communication. At the same time, we hope to begin bike commuting to school. Last week we went to the Giant (bike brand not monster) store to purchase bikes. Giant is manufactured in Taichung so I had hoped for a better deal than what we got but bikes are on the way. Bikes are made a bit on the smaller size for the locals so larger bikes need to be brought in for us.
I guess that does it for the moment. Thanks for the kind words and thoughts as we continue to transition to life in Taiwan. It’s amazing to think that we have only been here for 12 days.