Tag Archives: work

Apartment searching in Taipei and counting unhatched poultry.

Tomorrow night, we will have been in Taipei for a week, and what a tiring and long week it has been. We have been occupied with trying to meet people at my new workplace, putting Steve’s computer back together, taking care of business from home in Boston and Greenville, and above all, the apartment search that has sent Steve and me criss-crossing this bustling, humid city.

Today, the apartment search may have ended. I say may have, because our application for a spot hasn’t been accepted yet, but the broker said he would inform us tomorrow, and to make sure we were ready to submit our deposit and sign a lease. In some ways, it certainly has – we’ve found a place that finally checks all our boxes, and is even within our price range. It’s near Da’an Forest Park, the biggest, most wonderful park in Taipei, and nearly next door to a Wellcome grocery store and a post office and walking distance of several delicious night markets. It’s a quietly appointed, gorgeous apartment with a study for Steve and comes nearly entirely furnished. We are most definitely counting this chicken before it hatches, but having seen more than ten apartments over the last week, we are more than aware of the range of possibilities, and we’re ready to call it quits because this is definitely one of the best. Here’s to hoping we get a positive response tomorrow!!!

Excitingly enough, I’ve also been meeting people at my new workplace! I visited on Friday to say hi to everyone, and briefly meet with our CEO. I got the grand tour (okay, really a small tour) of the facility – there is a large common room, three other rooms used as separate meeting rooms, a kitchen with plenty of coffee, and even a ping-pong table. Yep, I’m joining the start-up world. That ping-pong table is a dead giveaway. I’m also starting to have lunch with people to learn more about them and to help me hit the ground running when I start next Monday. That’s right, my first day of work here in Taiwan will be Monday, July 4. That’s what happens when you’re the only American working at a company in Taiwan: nobody thinks there’s anything special about July 4. It’s kind of refreshing for a change.

What’s on my mind is all these mundane things like searching for apartments and starting a new job, but underneath it all is a bit of quiet wonder and appreciation for the fact that we’re in Taiwan again, and this time for a long haul. There’s not a real rush to see everything, in recognition of the fact that we will make it to X restaurant or Y temple at some point. I can recognize ads for events and music festivals on the MRT, and pencil it in on our calendar, because we’ll be here several months from now! It is so special to be here in Taipei, but it is also real life, not vacation. In recognition of that, I’ve started running again every other day, along the riverbank nearby and hopefully soon, around Da’an Forest Park.

Steve has promised (!!!) to write an entry soon about what he’s been doing here, so I’ll leave it up to him. Otherwise, the world will just never hear about what he’s up to. Oh, well.

More to come tomorrow!

The 9-to-5 in Taiwan.

Written on the 506 train
Saturday, June 6, 10:03 am

For the next two and a half hours, Steve and I are going on a scenic, slow tour of the landscape between Taichung and Taipei, thanks to Taiwan Rail (台鐵). We are taking a not-so-express train that goes through many smaller towns, though still not the local train, which doesn’t even have seat reservations. So far, we have seen some lovely fields, rivers that are running fuller than they used to be because of the recent rains (but still not at full capacity), and some mountains and hills in the distance. It is not the kind of scenery we would expect to see in the US, because these aren’t a part of long-running ranges like the Rockies and the Appalachians. The mountains here are steeper, younger, and you come up on them very suddenly.

For the rest of the train ride, I think I will take the time to record my impressions and thoughts about my internship so far. There are two sorts of different experiences I’m going through simultaneously, which I will write about separately. The first is the fact that working (and living) overseas in Asia is a very different experience from the US, and I’m growing to understand more about the non-profit sector here. The second is that I am putting into practice what I’ve learned in my first year of public policy grad school about policy analysis, program evaluation, and statistics in order to run this program evaluation of their youth capacity building program.

The few days before I started at my internship, Steve and I were running around Taichung trying to set up our household. Even though we were crazy tired and busy, I still found time to worry about starting this internship. Plunging into full-time work, even just for ten weeks, is a considerable mental strain. What if my boss was hard to deal with? What if I couldn’t actually understand what they were telling me, since I knew nearly no professional Chinese? Even though I had talked on Skype to my prospective supervisor and found her very kind and the project for the summer quite promising, I was still on the verge of telling Steve that we had made a bad mistake, and couldn’t we just chill in Taiwan for ten weeks instead? Continue reading The 9-to-5 in Taiwan.

Hold to the now, the here.

Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past.

– James Joyce, Ulysses

This quote (from a book I’ve never read, I confess) floated to the top of my mind when I opened this blank page. At any given point on this trip, I am busy trying to experience everything that is going on, synthesize it, and be thoughtful and retrospective at the same time, especially for the blog. You know, I just want to catch up on the latest for all the folks following along at home. The last time we saw our heroes, they were catching an early flight to Kuala Lumpur…

Simply being in the moment and enjoying it is a luxury that has been hard to take advantage of. So instead of a retrospective, here is an attempt at the now, however mundane.

The now is a dusty but surprisingly serviceable inn off the Main Bazaar drag in Paharganj, India’s backpacking district. We have soft beds, I’m listening to a TV which is broadcasting Al Jazeera News, and there is exactly one outlet that I am monopolizing to power my computer. We had vegetarian thalis with butter naan an hour ago on the crowded, dirty street, listening to the cars and scooters and tuk-tuks continuously honking at each other, and later found an optician’s office where we filled up on contact lens solution.

Continue reading Hold to the now, the here.