Teaching in Hsinchu, Taiwan [1]

Week one round-up

Hey everyone!

I arrived in Hsinchu exactly one week ago today and so far, honestly, it’s been great!

Naturally I’m comparing my first week here to my first week in China, back in March. It’s absolutely different. There are no similarities. I love my shared apartment, the neighbours are so quiet, there’s enough veggie food for me here and there’s plenty to do! I haven’t even seen half of the city yet and I’ve been out exploring every day!

Of course I miss my family and my friends, but I am not homesick. In fact, I haven’t cried once! Whereas in China I cried uncontrollably for hours at a time for over a week. There’s just no comparison. I went into work on Monday and I observed 3 lessons, 2 on Tuesday and 1 on Wednesday. Then I taught 1 on Wednesday, 1.5 on Thursday and 2 on Friday – eek!! It was a fantastic week and a solid start to a new job.

My boss has a good system set up to ensure all new teachers get the opportunity to see how the school runs, how the class systems work and to meet all the students before you really start teaching. My only concern is I have so much to learn! But that’s great, because I need to keep pushing myself.

There are no similarities to BEET at all and I miss that terribly, but I was comfortable there and I didn’t feel like I was progressing much in my teaching. Not that I’m complaining, I wish I could have stayed there forever, but I have to keep moving.

I’m teaching ages 7 to 17, and I’ve always said I’m not keen on teaching that age group but Taiwanese people, students, are so different. There’s so much respect, discipline and dedication to studying that at any age, they’re pretty well behaved. So far, not in any class, have I spotted a potential problematic student. (Thank god for that, too!)

The best part of it is that my 3 classes in a row are on Monday, then I only have two a day for the rest of the week. On Fridays I seem to have the best two classes. The most adorable group of 7 year olds, and a really great bunch of Intermediate 16-18 year olds. So no matter how tough my week is, I know I’ll be able to end on a high note.


OH YES. And I have 3 Taiwanese, an American and an Australian colleague, who are all lovely. Hopefully next week we can grab a beer or a meal together. We were all pretty wiped out yesterday evening.

So, what have I been up to this week?

My housemates and I are on pretty different schedules. They’re travelling around the area and to different cities and I’ve been working 2-9:30pm, so I haven’t seen much of me, but they’re lovely. Last night we finally had time to grab some street food together! Only £1 for a huge pot of noodles. Can’t complain, right?

I’ve been out from about 9ish most mornings, grabbing a Starbucks coffee and blueberry bagel (贝果 bei guo) and exploring different parts of the city. I can get 5 different buses that a free, although the bus fare is only 15 元 (50p) a trip anyway. It still means I’m saving money!

On Tuesday I had to travel nearly an hour to get to HSBC to try and withdraw money, as the local banks wouldn’t accept my card and I owed my housemates nearly £500 in rent. Thankfully they were great about it! (Obviously I was panicking like mad that they were going to kill me for it…)

The weather has been insane. Up to 38°C with 90-96% humidity every day. Making it impossible to stay cool or really relax when out and about, but I’m quickly adjusting.

And by that I mean, wear as little as you can get away with and take smart work clothes in your bag. Drink 10 bottles of water per hour and don’t walk any faster than snails pace! #problemsolver

I know Taiwan has a tonne of decent coffee, amazing baristas and wonderful coffee shops, so of course I’ve been on the hunt! Three that I’ve so far come across are extortionate!

£5-7 for an Americano. It’s safe to say I did not buy one.

I have, however, found two amazing cafes that only charge 90元 (£3!) and the staff are wonderful and both have a lovely, relaxing atmosphere.

  • Stay by Coffee, on Dongmen Street

  • Mooor coffee roasters, on Zhongzheng Road

  • Mountain House, on Dongnan Road

In a month or so I’ll probably do a round up of Hsinchu coffee shops because I’ve seen at least 20 on the map so far and I’m sure there’s even more! They’ve been saved on google maps.

I haven’t met any other foreigners and there doesn’t seem to be many around, so that’s a shame so far. But tomorrow I’m going to Taichung and in two weeks time I’ll be going to Taipei!

Today I met up with one of my dad’s old colleagues. They e been friends for 21 years now! He and his wife took me to a vegetarian restaurant on the other side of the river, in Zhubei, and we had an amazing lunch! (I was trying to be polite so sadly didn’t get any foodie photos!)

    The V F restaurant, Jiafeng South Road, Sec 1 – prices start at 200元

Then because I’d mentioned that I didn’t have a pillow, they drove me back to their house so they could give me one of theirs that was still in a package. I just find that so sweet! There we face-timed my dad and drank Earl Grey tea before they drove me back to my flat. It was such a wonderful afternoon and I feel so privileged that my dad has such kind friends who are looking out for me too.

The rain was torrential all afternoon and I thought I’d nip out when it stopped, but that was a big mistake as it started up again so quickly that I got caught in it. I did buy some brilliant bits though. I think I’ve spent about £40 on craft things in a week! But I’m really, finally, into my scrap booking again. I bought so much in China but was far too miserable to do anything, there’s only 3 completed pages. But my Taiwan one is looking great so far.

The good news is there are loads of book and stationery stores here, although an English book costs about £10. And yes, I did buy one. I can’t help myself, ok?

  • Kingstone, on Dongmen Street
  • Eslite, in Big City Mall
  • Tien Chiao Shi, on Zhongzheng Road

To end this post on a funny note, here are some odd things I’ve seen or heard this week.

  • My hairdryer is called Adam.
  • I teach children called Sky, Star, Shark, Sun and Summer.
  • One boy said, I am thirty years old! Turns out he’d heard it on the tv. He’s 8!
  • I bought ‘plain’ bread rolls and when I opened them to put salad inside they were full of weird stuff that looked like tobacco!
  • Vegetarian noodles (Not suitable for vegetarians. This noodle contains pork)

Happy Saturday xo

ppppppst… a little video I made walking around… a YouTube thingy HERE

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