Email to my Family

November 16th, 2014
The biggest struggle I have been having in Taiwan is figuring out how to stay in touch with my family back home. I don’t just mean my immediate family either. I mean my grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. My family was very supportive about me moving to Taiwan, but I have been feeling a huge disconnect from them recently. I think part of it has to do with two major holidays coming up: Thanksgiving and Christmas. I felt like it was time to send out a mass email to everyone telling them a little bit about how I am, and sharing a few pictures. This is the email I sent:
HELLO FAMILY!!

Oh my goodness where do I even start!?!

Time has gone by really fast for me in Taiwan. I feel like it was just this summer when I was telling everybody my goodbyes. Since I have gotten here everything has been really busy, or I have kept myself really busy trying to learn, travel, and meet people as much as I can.

First of all I hope that all of you are doing well and are healthy and happy. I miss you a lot! Without getting into the annoying troubles of homesickness I will tell you that I miss you and think about you often. The weather here has been the equivalent of hot, wet, humid, or cool everyday so without snow I have been losing track of time. Holidays, when I get to spend time with my amazing family, are going to be strange. Since it doesn’t snow here it isn’t really going to feel like it is Thanksgiving or Christmas. While this will probably help with homesickness a little bit it is still going to be different from my life in the states. My homesickness hasn’t been horrible at all, not compared to a fellow co-worker of mine, but I still miss some things about home nonetheless.

I wanted to give all of you a little bit of an update on my life here. When I say little there is a lot to talk about, but I will keep it to a minimum.

Work: I really like my job. I work with 2-year-olds, 6/7-year-olds, and 9-year-olds. They are a handful, but I love working with them. My hours are not that bad. I will be having two classes added to my schedule for the next 6 weeks, which will put me at almost 30 teaching hours. Teaching hours does not include all the time I have to spend preparing for classes, it is just my time in the classroom. It is going to be a lot, but living costs are so cheap here that I will be able to put away a nice chunk of money with these extra classes.

I also started teaching a private lesson to two kids, ages 4 & 6, once a week. It is nice money and I hope to add it to my fun money.

Language: I still can barely speak Chinese. I have learned a little bit from just listening to people and asking shop keepers and co-workers how to say things. I can now order coffee all in Chinese. While this may seem super silly it is really helpful because I need coffee when I am teaching these munchkins. Maybe I will take a Chinese class in the future, but I am not sure yet.

Living: I work Monday-Friday and live in a studio apartment with no kitchen. It is really weird not cooking and I hope to move if I get the chance. I haven’t really been looking so it will have to just happen at this point. It is very cheap to eat out here so that hasn’t been much of a problem at all. I enjoy the food here, but it can be hard to break up the monotonousness feeling. I live in a district (city) called Fengyuan. There are about 116,000 people that live here, but it is still considered small compared to Taiwanese standards. I have a bicycle and a scooter. I drive my scooter to get everywhere for the most part. I still don’t have a Taiwanese driver’s license so I am driving illegally. Eventually I am going to take the test and get one.

Traveling: Taiwan has a train and it is super convenient and cheap. I have been able to travel around Taiwan with next to no problems. I have mainly been crashing at my friends’ places from training, but I did go to the east coast to Hualien where I stayed in a hostel. I have gone to all the coasts now except the south so I hope to be going there soon.

Speaking of traveling I will be traveling to South Korea during Chinese New Year in February. A friend from college lives there so I will be staying with her and traveling around South Korea.

It has been a great experience to get around Taiwan will little to no Chinese, teach English, and live in a different country. I was telling my dad that I think my patience and tolerance to go with the flow has definitely increased since I arrived here in July. Little things that would give me anxiety in the beginning are now becoming part of everyday life. I hope the good vibes that I feel about Taiwan will stay.

Overall, I really enjoy it here and I like my job. I couldn’t ask for much better, especially after just graduating from college.

I am going to attach some of my favorite pictures from my travels and everyday life here in Taiwan. Please feel free to ask any questions and tell me what is going on at home. I love when my mom updates me, even if it is about the little things in life.

Also, I keep up with my blog: http://www.vanessataiwan.wordpress.com

I talk about things that have happened to me in Taiwan. I also talk about all of my travels there. I post all of my pictures from my travels and time here on Facebook too.

Remember: I love you all very much! Hugs from Taiwan!

Love,

Vanessa