(Happy 2010 from Taipei!)
Wow, I can't believe it's been almost a month since my last post! I've been going a mile a minute for the past few weeks, and even though I have to get up for my next day of teaching in T-minus 7 hours, I'm not going to put this off any longer.
(This was pretty much my Christmas... A tree in the front office.)
First, to fill you in on the holiday hoopla. As I'd mentioned in my last big post, we teachers were required to add "teaching Christmas carols" to out daily class curriculum. The kids were also given the chance to write letters to Santa, which made for a nice opportunity to be a little bit of a grinch and play the role of Santa's informant. If they were bad in class, I could just say, "oh, I think I'm going to add a little note on your card to Santa telling him you're being naughty, not nice." Gotta love small children. :)
As it turned out, one of my classes won second prize in the Christmas carol competition. I've included a video, which unfortunately has no sound since my camera seems to have been made before that was an option... Still, you get to see them dance (even if it is mostly just them swaying back and forth, haha). Now I'm just kind of missing the few weeks when I could just fill any free time at the end of class by saying, "let's practice the Jingle Bell Rock," instead of doing another word game or reader activity.
Ironically enough the day that was filled with the LEAST Christmas cheer was December 25th, haha. The Taiwanese government has officially declared that Christmas is in fact not a national holiday, so that meant everyone had to work. UNhappy face. But on the bright side I received a care package from my parents full of goodies from the States, and I made time to watch all of the South Park Christmas specials on my computer. :)
New Year's Eve was also pretty low key for me. The director at my school said that I just HAD to go see the fireworks display at the Taipei 101 building (see the last big post), and since I had nothing else going on I figured I'd check it out. Apparently all of Taipei had the same idea because the subway was insane! There were crowds of people and officials with badges glowing sticks directing the flow of bodies through the bottleneck to get in. They would let a certain amount of people into the station then wait for the trains to clear them out before letting more in. This was the story at one of the more minor stations. At Taipei Main Station it was ridiculous with waits up to several hours I heard.
(the view of Taipei 101 from behind Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall a few minutes before midnight)
I made it out of the packed subway only to find myself in the biggest mass of people I've ever seen in my life. I don't do well with crowds, so I tried to hang near the back, which meant I kept on getting pushed farther and farther away as more people streamed into the square surrounding Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. This ended up more or less working in my favor since I eventually got pushed back far enough that I could see the Taipei 101 building over the massive memorial hall, and more importantly since I was in a position to actually get the heck out of there after the fireworks were over.
The show itself only lasted about 2 minutes or so, but the fireworks were pretty incredible. I got a video of them so you folks back home can enjoy a genuine Taiwanese new year sans the crowd. Happy 2010! After I high-tailed it home, I spent the rest of the evening talking with friends and family who were still back in 2009, haha.
A few highlights to end on before this gets to be another novel of a blog post:
1) I had the last day of one of my adult classes before we continue to the next level. That meant party day! My students all pooled their money together and brought a ton of Thai food to class for quite the feast. They found out that I love Thai food, and they even snuck in some beer past the front desk so we could enjoy ourselves a little more for the holidays. Needless to say, they are pretty much the best class ever.
2) I've found a really neat tea/coffee/snacks establishment a block away from my school where I've been spending my breaks between classes reading and drinking tea. The staff there have taken to chit-chatting with me when they get the chance, and recently have started offering me the extra treats they have on display under the glass counter up front. They're really friendly and welcoming and as a result my diet has expanded to include chocolate, cake, custard, and their take on Italian alfredo noodles.
3) Today I got to sub for a class of 5 and 6 year olds who were not only really cute, but surprisingly good at English too. I had some really good conversations over crayons and Dr. Seuss before their nap time today. I had the TA take a picture for the blog so I could share some of my working experience with you all too. :)