It’s been a few weeks since my last post. For all my many (read: five) readers who have been anxiously awaiting my next entry, I do apologize. It’s finally here, you can relax. The last few weeks have been very busy for me and I’ve given myself little time to actually sit down and type up another entry. Also, I’m currently recovering from a very nasty cold resulting from the poor air quality here. The doctor I spoke to thinks it could be a combination of the pollution, cat and dog dander, dust mites, and cockroach poop, which can all be strong allergens if you’re not used to them. (Yes, I did say cockroach poop. No need to read that sentence again.) But I’m feeling healthy and extra productive tonight so I thought I’d use this energy to update my blog. If you’re wondering what’s happening with my YouTube account all I can say is nothing is happening with it yet. I’ve been trying to edit the videos I’ve been taking, but since they are in HD, my little netbook is having issues playing them in the software that I have. So until I get that major problem figured out I’ll be unable to post any videos. Stay tuned.
I’ve been here in Kaohsiung, Taiwan over five weeks now. I have no idea where the time went. It feels to me like my life has been moving fairly quickly since I arrived and that things have simply fallen into place quite easily. Almost too easily. To name a few important things: I’ve settled into my friends’ apartment, made a few new friends here in the city, visited the night markets a few too many times, learned enough Chinese (or universal hand gestures, I’m a charades pro now!) to order food at a few restaurants, learned how to use the subway, made connections at the local queer centre, and, perhaps most importantly, found myself a job teaching English. But I will share that last exciting little update in the near future.
As I mentioned before, I really started my preparations the week before I left. After repeatedly weighing the pros and cons of the big move across the ocean and refusing to make a final decision for months, I quickly booked my flight while in a particularly positive mood knowing that I would change my mind again if I waited even a few more minutes. However, since I was feeling overly optimistic, I booked my flight only two weeks before my departure. I’m sure everyone had their doubts that I would be prepared for such a big move. I certainly did, but I refused to let anyone know that I may have made a big mistake. I think I may have mentioned something about my big ego in my previous entry?
I think it took about a week for reality to settle in, because with only a week left on the calendar I started gathering all the information I felt I needed to work as an English teacher in Taiwan. Since my friends Luc and Breanna were already in Kaohsiung, Taiwan and they offered me a room in their apartment, I was fortunate enough to already have a place to live. (If you’re wanting to move here but have no connections, don’t worry, I have links that will blow your mind and calm your nerves.) Since I am a Canadian citizen, I am able to get a 90-day landing visa upon arrival in Taiwan. I decided to go that route as my friends did the same and it meant less paperwork and less waiting for a visa (also, I didn’t give myself time to consider other options). I was able to focus all of my attention on getting my criminal record check (which I never used), booking a fully refundable flight out of the country to convince customs that I was leaving in 90 days (which I was never asked for), photocopying all of my documents (which I had to photocopy again when I got a job), obtaining my international driver’s license and traveller’s health insurance (which took about 10 minutes), packing up and storing all of my belongings at my parents’ farm (which took a sizeable chunk of the week), and packing and repacking my suitcases (which seemed to take the same amount of time as packing up my house). And by the end of the week I felt that I was fully prepared to try making a new life for myself in Taiwan! What I didn’t have though was a job … or even a lead on a job. What was my response when everyone pointed this out to me? “Pish posh. Minor details.”
The truth is, I felt like I was going bungee jumping. The plane ticket was the fee for the jump, it was already paid for and there were no refunds. The bungee cord was the assurance from my friends that English teaching jobs were in abundance. And the screaming individual was me (I was screaming on the inside). I knew I was taking a risk. There was really nothing guaranteeing that I would find a job when I arrived in Kaohsiung, or, in other words, there was no guarantee that the cord wouldn’t snap and I’d end up smashing my face into the rocks of shame, defeat, and depleted funds.
Regardless of what horrific metaphors I could conjure up in my head, on September 20th, 2011, I woke up early in the morning, packed my bags into my parents’ minivan, and checked in at the Calgary International Airport. It was no surprise to me that my parents drove me to the airport that morning; they always insist on seeing me off or picking me up from the airport, which I always appreciate. A small group of my friends also drove the 2+ hours from Lethbridge, Alberta to Calgary, which I definitely appreciated. When it was time for me to head for the gate, I found it difficult to leave. There I was, about to leave my family again and all the amazing friends (read: my second family) I’ve made over the last 5 years while attending the University of Lethbridge. I wanted to take everyone with me. Or say, “Just kidding! Let’s go home!” But neither of those were viable options. So after awkwardly saying goodbye far too many times I finally grabbed my bags and headed through the doors, out of sight of my friends and family. Little did I realize that there was going to be a very unfortunately timed typhoon in my near future.
I’ll save the rest of the story for next time. It’s time for me to get some sleep and probably time for you to get some lunch! I love hearing from you so please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply leave a comment below. Feel free to snoop around the rest of the blog and check out my Twitter, YouTube Vlog, and Flickr, if you feel so inclined, which you can find on the Links page. If you would like to see a few photos that I’ve uploaded so far, entering any page on this blog will randomly produce one of my photos. Simply clicking on the image will also bring you to another photo of mine randomly.
Also, if you were hoping for a juicy update on the guy behind the counter at the coffee shop from the last entry … turns out he wanted to introduce me to his friend who wanted to practice his English. Sorry for the anticlimactic ending.
Love and safe flights!