We’ve been back in America for over 3 years now. A lot has changed, but not the pursuit of wisdom.
I recently came across a very important concept today. It is contained in a Cherokee story:
Orientation – April 1, 2015
Guess what? We’ve decided to leave the country again, but at least this time there won’t be a
language barrier. Click the link below, to read more about our exciting new adventure.
We’ve already been to most of North America, Asia, South America, and a bit of Europe so
we’ve decided to sign on with NASA for their 100 year space project. The Colony ship will be
taking volunteers from all walks of life, including children. and where there are children,
there is a need for teachers.
This is a very big decision and we’ve considered it thoroughly . We didn’t share this news
with our family and friends until now because when we applied 2 years ago, we didn’t think
we’d ever get this far in the process.
Training camp begins this summer in Texas. If accepted into the program, we’d locate to a
top secret military / NASA base within the year and we’d leave for Mars soon after. Here we
are training in the Texas heat for our first simulation of life abroad.
This website was very helpful in explaining the ins and outs of train travel in Japan. It even has links to a full color map of the entire shinkansen line:
Japanican has a lot of good package deals. For example, if you bundle a hotel stay with a Shinkansen trip you can save up to 50 USD:
Of course, I referenced our good old friends at Agoda. We’ve been using this website since our first travels to the Philippines and China one year ago:
Here are some other helpful links:
The Japan Rail Pass can be used for many modes of travel, not only Shinkansen:
More info on fantastic Miyajima island:
More on Yamato museum:
Well, first you need to get your license:
Here’s another opinion:
Here are the locations for all of Taiwan:
And here’s our local Taichung office:
77 Beitun Road., North district
Then after you get your license, forget everything you learned, and start paying attention to how local Taiwanese actually drive their scooters: CRAZY.
People will run red lights, in both directions. Also, a scooter can come at you from any direction at any time–even from above. So beware, be aware, and be careful.
I don’t have a lot to say on the subject of the Taiwan lottery except this:
1. It’s free. Anytime you get a receipt from a purchase you hold a ticket in your hand.
2. we all know someone who has won at least 200 NT ($6 USD) or more. So try it.
Here are some links:
When do you get a day off from work? When is a good time to travel? Here are a few resources for you?
Here are the best if you want to know when to travel:
Whose Travel, run by Dale Mackie, is a great resource:
These are helpful for background information:
Whether you’re headed to Tapei for the weekend or making a longer trip to the East Coast of the island or Kenting in the south, buses are your friend.
Getting to Taoyuan International airport in Taipei.I recommend taking the HSR (High Speed Rail a.k.a. “GaoTie” ). Tell the taxi driver “gao Tie” (the Chinese word abbreviation of a longer phrase that means high speed rail) and they will take you to the only HSR station in Taichung. It’s a different station than the regular train. The first HSR out of Taichung leaves at 6am. It takes about 40 minutes to get to Taoyuan and 50 min/1 hour to get to Taipei. Your ticket stub will have exact arrival and departure times.
Do you need to be there before 6:40am? Take the bus:
1.Fego Bus a.k.a “Flying Dog” or FreeGo. I haven’t found an English website for them yet. First bus to Taoyuan airport from Taichung leaves at 3am. Then, every 20 minutes.
2. Other resources:
Taiwan Secrets is a great travel blog in general. Here’s their bus section:
Here’s a paintball field I’ve never been to: http://www.yeke.tw/
Here’s a link to the Facebook Group:
Here’s a google map to the site of the Fubar/Taichung Golf Association fundraiser tournament in November 2010:
It has been a good journey, even when it hasn’t been an easy one. Almost a year ago, I arrived in Taiwan with my best friend and my wife (same person). I thought because I had done this before it would be the same journey and an easy one.
Twelve years ago, during the last year of the Tiger, I moved to Japan to teach English with the JET program. I was right out of college, my life was not coming together for me quickly enough, and my friend was doing it so I joined up too. Deciding to live in a foreign culture was probably the single most transformative decision of my life. I did not know so at the time.
My first night in Nanbu, Yamanashi, Japan, I cried. I was all alone in a small Japanese town of 7,000 people and I was the only foreigner for 50 kilometers. What had I gotten myself into? A whole new world. Within my first months, I appeared on a Japanese game show, met lots of other foreigners from Canada, England, Australia, and other English speaking locales and, of course, got a huge dose of Japanese culture. After 1 year, I was conversational in Japanese. Going into my second year, even more so.
It was not always a pleasant journey but a transformative one. Culture shock is a necessary part of any undertaking in a foreign land. You will have ups and downs. Below are some links to help you find what stage you are in. Understand that no two people experience a foreign culture the same. Also, the maps and links below are guidelines not a “script”. There is seldom much predictable about human emotion.
(Above image from: http://www.nhtvwiki.nl/wiki02/index.php?title=Culture_shock)
Also, from the same website:
Of course, not everyone passes through the phases fluently, adopting Dutch culture in the adjustment phase. In fact, there are 3 different outcomes that you can have.
If you find yourself experiencing a culture shock, then here are some tips that can help you deal with it. Don’t forget that if things get too bad for you, do not hesitate to contact a doctor!
Now, 12 years later, I am back in Asia. I expected the journey to be the same. But it is not. As Heraclitus said, “It is impossible to step into the same river twice.” A lot has changed: 1. Now I am older and more experienced. 2. I have had a 15 year teaching career. 3. I am married and do not make this journey alone. 4. I carry with me all the experiences of the past 12 years.
Some things are easier: Before I lived in Japan, I did not think I was good at languages. Having failed to make it into the Advanced Placement section of Spanish in my High School I assumed I simply “did not have what it takes” to learn a language. Living in Japan and learning a language through immersion reminded me that we are all hard-wired for learning languages. Babies don’t study flashcards or “apply themselves” to learning their first language, they just do. Now, granted those abilities decay, deteriorate, and transform as we get older. My only argument is that humans are meant to learn languages.
My advice is that while you are in Taiwan (or any immersion environment) make the most of it and try to learn a new language it is an exciting adventure. Also, try to learn a new culture. You will not only gain new perspective on the world but a greater understanding of yourself.
“Be happy and excited for this opportunity, and don’t expect things to be the same as your home country. Foreigners who follow this advice cope well with culture shock. When you survive culture shock, you’ll find that you have a fresh outlook on your own culture and its roots, and will gain new ways of understanding yourself.”–From English in Taiwan link above.
So while my journey in Taiwan has not been an easy one, it has been a good one. Any journey is a good one that gives you greater understanding. My first year in Taiwan has taught me a lot about my values, my strengths, my weaknesses, and my limitations. It has been yet another exciting adventure that I get to share with my wife.
My departing words to you, for this post is this:
When times get hard, fall back on your training. Go back to basics.
What training? When I lived in Japan, the first time, I had training. I was employed by Monbusho, the National Education system of Japan. They provided workshops in teaching, culture shock, and other helpful tools. After Japan, I discovered Zen Buddhism and Mindfulness. Some call it a religion or a philosophy. I just consider it Good Advice to pay attention to what’s going on. So whatever grounds you in happiness, calm, peace, and balance–fall back on that when times are hard. That could be religion, spirituality, the wise counsel of close friends or family.
Whatever it is, when hard times come (because they surely will) fall back on your training.
You still say you don’t know what grounds you in peace and balance?
This is your chance to learn. Welcome to the journey.
More stories from abroad: