So in compliance with the school assembly schedule and general life in wannabe-American Taiwan, this week is Thanksgiving, and boy, don’t I know it. Thus, my next entry is wonderfully Thanksgivingy themed. There it is in black and white, my 6 letter name on the paper timetable next to THANKSGIVING ASSEMBLY. Out of all the American and Canadian teachers here, somehow it made the most sense to get the English girl, having never given Thanks in her life to teach 100 Chinese kids the story, customs and traditions behind the whole thing. Of course Wikipedia is my first port of call, and now I’m fully up to speed on why the nice (petrified) red-Indians gave the poor (armed) Englishmen their food and land.
That aside, I am feeling rather festive. The playground is a spectacular array of fairylights, both entrances are aglow with LED reefs and Christmas trees and round the clock Christmas show rehearsal has indeed commenced. There is a giant white tree in my classroom complete with pink, blue, green and purple decorations and the school sound system blasts Christmas songs (although not your traditional festive album… unless yours consists of Hilary Duff belting Jingle Bell Rock, Abba and their infamous Super Trooper or Aqua and their rather seductive Happy Boys and Girls’) pretty much 8 of the 10 hours it is turned on. Nonetheless, they are our Christmas Show songs and as I’m wandering from the office to the playground to my classroom I definitely am starting to get into the spirit. And with that in mind (and with assembly research still in progress) I thought it the best time to be reflective and have a little Thanksgiving of my own…
So, in true English fashion, first things first: things I am not thankful for….
The weather in Taiwan could be likened to something off a Katy Perry album. It’s 33 degrees and humid one day and then literally 24 hours later its 20 with the coldest, iciest wind. This, I am truly not thankful for. I now have a pretty much resident chesty cough, croaky voice as well as a lacking ability to choose clothes correctly . The sun that beams through my 13th floor ceiling to floor windows in the morning is criminally deceptive and has left me on many occasions freezing my butt, hands and ears off on the scooter ride to and from work. I am slowly learning to ignore its smiley loving face and put my (new snug) coat on every morning regardless of how beautiful the view of the mountains is on the horizon.
Secondly, I am not thankful for Taiwan’s sneaky Christmas loophole. Although it appears to be in the festive spirit, with decorations and music galore, the country runs a completely normal schedule through the entire month and working at a school this obviously means working right through until Chinese New Year (the obviously more worthy celebration) at the end of January. So where as I normally see Christmas décor and make the clear connection with at least 2 weeks off; this year is all trickery and come Christmas day (although the school have kindly given us poor foreigners 2 days off) I shall quickly be back at work as if this special day never existed. Gone will be the wonderful tree and music (having said that if I never hear Super Trooper again I shall lead a happy and fulfilled existence).
Before this turns into a rant rather than a blog entry I shall turn my attention instead to the things I am indeed very thankful for…
Firstly, and probably most importantly I am thankful for the friends I have mde here. Now we all live in the same beautiful building life is like being back at uni but with an actual apartment, a gym, a job and the money to travel around this beautiful continent over the long holidays. Without this little support group I can safely say I would be far less settled here and have them to thank for a ridiculous string of good (drunken) times. It’s a weird feeling being able to lift your life up, move it a few thousand miles to the right, put it back down and a few weeks later feel like you never moved it.
Secondly, I am thankful for (hold the vomit people) my wonderful boyfriend back home who, in all of this is probably the most incredible. I never mention him, I don’t need to. But on my first thanksgiving it is important I include him. For being on the other side of the world, he still does an amazing job of taking the piss, calling me at the wrong times and being a rock of support.
Lastly, aside from the complete and utter obvious that is my best friends and my sisters (who are one and the same really ) back home, I can only really say I am thankful for the opportunities I have been given from those in England and those here. I mean this in many ways (including watching a grown man do the chicken dance to Abba in front of 150 children and sitting on a freezing cold stationary coach in torrential rain for 3 hours on the way to Taipei) but mainly the chance to do things I never would like flying here in the first place with 5 days notice, teach my own class and actual feel like I’m doing a half decent job of it and making wonderful cocktails of vodka, wine, cough medicine and sugar (yes this is a true story and I was not the initiator!) in the wee hours of Friday nights.
If anyone is wondering how the old cousin is doing, he’s settled in probably quicker than I did. He has taken to the job like a fat girl takes to grilled cheese and it almost feels like he’s been here all along. My Chinese is still better than his and I plan to keep it this way. Anyone who has met me for long enough will tell you of my weird (subtle) competitive streak and I will not have him overtake me!
Tomorrow is actual Thanksgiving and my Californian friend Hannah is cooking up (in our £10 toaster ovens) a Thanksgiving feast. Wish us luck, this girl can just about make pasta. If I don’t have a blog entry in the next few weeks, perhaps raise the alarm bells. But until then, Happy Thanksgiving everybody. May your day be filled with things you are thankful for (for me this would simply be the lack of ABBA, Aqua and Hilary Duff) and take care in the cold November weather. I wish I could say I lived in a tropical country and was not experiencing any of this, but unfortunately Taiwan could win awards for its trickery and tonight I shall snuggle in bed with my fleece blanket and dream of roast Turkey.