Among the things I love about my job in Taiwan are the following:
- We wear jeans to work.
- It’s acceptable for me to listen to music while I work.
- I have two stuffed green peas on my desk, one named Mi-Mi and one named Re-Re (musicians, I know you’re smiling right now). There is a third pea named Do-Do, but I was only given two of the three. These guys are mascots for the Ju Percussion Music School.
- My coworkers are young, friendly, and interesting.
- The views from the office windows and from the train as I come to work in the mornings is really nice.
- There is an official naptime over the 1.5-hour lunch break, when the lights are dimmed.
My First Taiwanese Night Market
I went to my first Taipei night market on Friday night with a coworker. The night markets are filled with people, shops, street vendors, and more food than you could even think of eating in the whole weekend, much less one night. I didn’t buy much, but I had fun. I’m sure I looked like a kid in a candy shop, wide-eyed and amazed.
My First Mandarin-English Language Exchange
I had my first language exchange on Saturday morning. If you aren’t familiar, a language exchange is when two people who each share two languages in common get together to practice their language skills. In Asia it seems most popular for a native English speaker studying an Asian language to meet with a native Asian-language speaker studying English. In my case, I met with a native Taiwanese person (a CMU alum, actually) who is fluent in Mandarin and speaks solid English. We worked mostly on my Mandarin this time, but in the future aim to spend one hour speaking in English, one hour speaking in Mandarin.
In my case, I met with a native Taiwanese person (a CMU alum, actually) who is fluent in Mandarin and speaks solid English. We worked mostly on my Mandarin this time, but in the future aim to spend one hour speaking in English, one hour speaking in Mandarin.
The language exchange was helpful, though since I don’t enjoy studying Chinese, it’s not my ideal way to spend a Saturday morning. You do what you have to do.
Meeting New People: Lunch at an American Missionary’s Home
On Sunday I had a really interesting lunch with a group of 13 people at an American missionary’s home in Taipei. The hostess has lived in Taiwan for 26 years and is bilingual in Mandarin and English. She’s the minister at a factory in Taipei that brings many Filipino men to work in Taiwan, leaving their families behind. Besides the missionary and myself, my Taipei Luce Scholar friend was the only other American there. Two of the women were Taiwanese — everyone else was Filipino.
We each had a chance to share our stories. Three stood out to me:
A Bus Bombing
First, one of the men told us that as a high school boy he was on a bus in Manila when a bomb went off. As the surviving people on the bus fled, he remembrs thinking to himself that “the bomb had already gon off, what was there to run from now?” as he called for help to save a middle-aged woman who was bleeding heavily. He recalls being “only a child” so people wouldn’t listen to him as he tried to get help.
An Eye for An Eye
Second, one of the women was 16 years old when two men broke into her home, holding herself and her sister up at gun point, and murdering two other family members in cold blood in their home right in front of this woman and her cousin. It gets worse…
The police in the Philippines accused the woman’s uncles of the murder and didn’t believe the two girls that the murders had taken place right in front of them. Eventually her uncles were murdered because the police there punished using, “an eye for an eye.”
Finally, a 43-year-old Filipino woman told us that she has a husband and nine children in the Philippines whom she was forced to leave in order to make more money to support them. The youngest child is a teenager now, but was only nine months old when she had to leave the Philippines.
Trying New Foods
The women had prepared the wonderful Filipino food we ate. I”d never had Filipino food before but I wasn’t disappointed. Since I’ve been in Taiwan (only 17 days now) I’ve eaten for the first time Taiwanese food, Korean food Italian/Taiwanese hybrid food (as you can guess, this one was particularly interesting) and now Filipino food.
I’ve eaten dried plumbs, Taiwanese sweet buns, Japanese bean buns, and had several types of new teas including chilled Oolong tea, which is supposed to aid with digestion. I’ve eaten new fruits, including the unidentified green one my coworker gave me last week, which made my lips tingle.
I’ve also eaten raw fish and eaten at a Japanese restaurant where they bring you a hot plate with a bowl of raw meats and veggies in it. You cook the food yourself. The raw fish (including four types of fish, some sort of oyster-type food, and octopus) was at the same Japanese restaurant. Only yesterday did my stomach start telling me I needed to chill with all these new foods.
Making New Friends
I think I’ve made my first friend in Taiwan. One of the girls I work with here is 24 and has a degree in marketing. She worked for a big corporate marketing and PR firm before starting at Ju. She represented companies like Hewlett Packard and Ford Motors at that firm but chose to leave the corporate world to work for Ju: a company she believes in.
She took me around town on Friday night, brought me a free bike and Taiwanese tea Sunday night, and her parents have invited me to come to Taichung, where they live, to go hiking with them any weekend. Her English is excellent, but she also helps me with my Chinese.
We share sarcasm and a little bit of inner tomboy, a love of music, and shopping for things that are colorful and quirky. I’m lucky to have already hit it off with someone here.
Time to get back to work…I hope you enjoyed my post! I encourage you to try new things, meet new people, and eat new foods once in awhile. It’s interesting and oftentimes fun!
Originally written and published on my blog, A Year in Taipei on September 18, 2006. Headings and paragraph breaks have been added to improve readability and SEO.
I wrote more than 300 blog posts during my year in Taipei, Taiwan. I don’t know yet how many of those posts I’ll recreate on MilliGFunk.com, but for now, at least, you can come back on Thursdays for a #ThrowbackThursday to my #YearInTaipei.