Friday, January 19, 2007

Another good day

Today was a good day. Maybe it will show you what I do in a typical day. I woke up practiced writing characters for a little bit, then met someone for a Bible study- it was good, I got to read the paragraphs. I am getting better at making small talk. There are two questions people always ask me and I still can't tell the difference between them- How long have you been here, and how long will you stay? I've just started to stay, I came in November and I'll stay until next December. Much easier that way.

After that I ran on the treadmill in the gym in our building, for just over an hour. I'm really pleased with how quickly I've gotten back into shape. I defininitely want to run a marathon while I'm here- there is one on April 15th and then not another one until November. I think I might be able to do the April one. If not I will do a half-marathon then. If I'll do it in April I need to get on a training schedule now, so maybe I will try to train for a few weeks and see if I have enough energy and time. Finding the time is tough because the gym is only open from 9 am to 10 pm, so I can only really run on mornings I'm not doing anything, or in the afternoon if I'm not doing anything. Also I would like to be able to run outside but it's hard because you just can't safely run on the streets here; I should check out a few of the bigger parks. Another concern is that even when I was training for the half-marathon that I ran very slowly, I was an eating machine. And that wasn't too bad in America where I could but Power Bars and bake chickens for dinner. Here eating is still a bit of task... I can fill myself up now but getting the right mix of healthy stuff, and enough of it to support marathon calorie burning, might be hard. You would think I would lose a lot of weight this way, right? No, I will just eat a lot more. Maybe lose a few pounds.

Whew! After that I ate some popcorn (I found a Chinese brand of Jiffy Pop- we don't have a microwave yet) and drank some chocolate milk (they have it here!) and showered, then it was around 2:30. I packed up some stuff for the weekend. I will be staying with Jasmine and I wanted to take some stuff to Fong Yuan because today I rode my bike but tomorrow I won't. I figured I would get food to eat on the way to work.

I looked kind of crazy- well, crazy for America; nothing is crazy for Taiwan. I had my backpack full of weekend clothes on the back of my bike, and a bag of homework and a purse in my bike basket, and a plastic bag with my rain gear hanging off my handlebar. I went to this place that sells chicken and you have your choice of 3 vegetables- kind of set up like Boston Market. It's another one of those places where you can point at everything so you would think if you would say "I want that" it wouldn't require a lot of Chinese conversation, and sometimes it doesn't but sometimes it does. They just ask all these questions I don't understand. Today I saw the guy from the papaya milkshake stand who speaks English. He was there with his girlfriend. I introduced myself and she said "He is so happy when you buy from him!" in English. So cute.

After that I rode a different way to the train station and passed a fruit stand. I wanted to buy a couple of oranges to eat for snacks at work so I went to the counter and the guy weighed them and said "Three dollars" in Chinese. Which is like 10 cents. So I said "30?" and he said "No, 3". I said "So cheap!" and he laughed. I guess oranges are in season. Then the owner came over and gave me an orange and a couple of pieces of fruit that don't have an English name for free! Crazy, eh?

By the time I got to the train I really looked crazy- I had all the original stuff on my bike, plus my meal, a cup of green tea, and the fruit hanging off my handelbars. I love Taiwan sometimes- where else can you wear a black skirt, navy jacket, and baseball cap for a formal occasion? Nowhere.

Classes went pretty well. First I had my Kids Club class- these are really little kids, like 6, and the idea of the class is to make them like English and think it's fun, while teaching them a little bit. But they learn crazy words like jellyfish and squid. Darned if I can tell the difference but they all can.
Then I had my Level 4 class who are crazy- they are so good at coming up with English sentences that aren't written in the book. Usually they are about poo-poo or bathrooms but so it goes. We had a quiz, and there is one kid, Oscar, who does so bad. He already failed this level once, and he has these enormous ears and always pulls his pants up under his armpits and tucks his shirt into them. He got an 85 which made me happy. Then we were going over the homework they will do, and one of the things was that they had to fill in the blanks for a paragraph so we were having them fill in the blanks in class and go write the whole thing at home. So it was like "I go to ___ Elementary School and I'm in Grade ____" blah blah blah "My ______ teacher is great, and I really like _____". So we go over everything orally and the end part is, they're supposed to say like "My math teacher is great, and I really like her." But this one little kid, Rex, who doesn't do so good either, comes up and his says "My happy teacher is great, and I really like my mom." It cracked me up because, you know, it's technically correct.
Then graded some homework and home on the train. It wasn't raining, yay! Tomorrow will be a long day- I have to observe a class in the morning in Taichung, then make it to Fong Yuan to teach my afternoon class and then have a Performance Day for another class. Then go to some congregation gathering with Fong Yuan where I will have to speak Chinese :{.

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