As I am typing this first post, I am sitting outside of a 24-hour bakery while eating a mouthwatering sandwich and drinking a milk tea with half the sugar. There is a rain storm quickly approaching but I’m thankful that it’s cooled off enough that the sweat has stopped rolling down my back. The young man behind the counter keeps looking at me, and I am not sure if he is examining my blonde hair, or flirting with me. My ego tells me it is the latter, but since I have already received plenty of stares (and photographs) because of the way I look since I arrived in Taiwan a week ago I have a feeling that the opinion of my ego is just wishful thinking. The proper mood is set though as a catchy version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is softly streaming through the speakers overhead.
My plan was to start writing this blog a week before I departed for this little island, but I did not realize just how busy I would be preparing for my trip. Apparently starting preparations to live in a new country a week before my departure is crazy and stupid and I do not recommend it to anyone. Somehow I managed to make it here, despite rushing all of my forms and getting caught in a typhoon on my way from Canada to Taiwan, and so far I have been enjoying every moment of my time.
For those of you who do not know who I am … welcome to my blog! I am expecting a total of three people to read this so any new reader that I get is exciting to me. I am a gay 20-something Canadian, raised in a little farming community outside of Tilley, Alberta, who recently completed a BA in Sociology at the University of Lethbridge in Lethbridge, Alberta. Immediately following graduation, I suddenly found myself thrust into the world with no idea what my next step would be. What I did know, however, was that I was starting my new life with a debt the size of a large stomach ulcer but I also had an intense desire for a new adventure that I could not ignore. My initial plan was to find a job in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, or Toronto, but I felt comfortable and safe in my job as a painter on the U of L campus. As I was a seasonal employee I knew that my job would eventually come to a close and I would be forced to find a job somewhere out in that wild competitive world. But I thought maybe I’ll start my search tomorrow. … Or the next day. And so on. You know how it goes. Everything changed though when my friends Luc and Breanna, whom I met at the University of Lethbridge, came to visit me from their home in Edmonton one last time before they hopped on an airplane destined for Taiwan.
Luc and Breanna had made plans to move to Taiwan for a year or two intending to find jobs teaching English when they arrive and save up enough money to pay off a healthy portion of their student loans. They had connected with some people through a Christian missionary organization called OMF, Overseas Missionary Fellowship, who would help them find a place to live, conduct a job search, and get settled easily in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. While we had our last meal together at a popular sushi restaurant they described their expectations of Taiwan to me. I shouted a half-joking question, “Geez! Why am I not doing that?!” To which they responded, “Yeah. Why aren’t you?” They then suggested I move in to one of the empty rooms in their three-room apartment in Kaohsiung. I gave them my are-you-serious face, which they responded with the yes-we-are-definitely-serious eyes. I thought for only a moment before saying, “Okay. I’ll do it.” And that was that. I knew absolutely nothing of Taiwan. The only reason that I knew Taiwan existed is that many of my possessions in Canada have “Made In Taiwan” printed on their labels. So surely Taiwan must exist. But regardless of my ignorance, I was convinced that I was moving to Kaohsiung and that I would teach English. Almost three months later, here I am!
I have a number of purposes for this blog. Before I left Canada, many of my friends and family asked me to stay in touch and update them on how my life is while I’m away. I thought it would be difficult for me to find the time to message every single person and keep everyone in the loop, so a regularly updated blog that anyone can access at anytime seemed like the best option while they wait for a personal email. I also have a number of other purposes that are more informative for interested readers. I intend to write about my experiences here in Kaohsiung as I find a job and teach English for the next year or two in order to help those who are wanting to become English teachers in Taiwan or perhaps provide information on an option for those who are fresh out of university (like myself) and have no idea what the next step of their lives will be (like myself). Last and most certainly not least, I also plan to write about what it is like being a foreign teacher of English who is gay. I found little helpful or current information online on how to become an English teacher in Taiwan as it seems many things have changed recently, making much of the information currently available obsolete. And although the information found online for English teachers in Taiwan is quite limited, at least Google searches will provide a few helpful sources. The information available for English teachers who are gay, or just gay life in Taiwan, or more specifically Kaohsiung, is so old and outdated that it is misleading at best or it simply does not exist anywhere on the Internet at all. At least such is the case when searching for sources in English. My intent is to provide at least some up-to-date information as it exists in 2011 and 2012 as I experience it, all the while sharing stories, photos, and videos of my new life as an alien in Taiwan.
I hope you enjoy what you see here and learn a thing or two about this amazing and beautiful country. Of course I love to hear from everyone who is reading this, so please leave comments below or send emails to email@example.com . I also have a YouTube channel featuring videos of the world around me; to find it click on this link: Tyson In Taiwan YouTube. If you find yourself burning with curiosity about Taiwan, send me your questions and I will try to include them either here or on my YouTube channel.
I wanted to keep this introductory post short and I’m sure I’ve more than doubled my intended word count, so I will end this here for now. Perhaps it is time that I head home anyway. That menacing rain cloud has just started to spit, releasing fresh smells into the air, both pleasant and foul. My sandwich and milk tea are happily digesting. … And the guy behind the counter just introduced himself to me and wants to practice his English over an iced cappuccino. So maybe not time to go home but certainly time to put away the laptop.
Love and cool showers!