I started compiling a list of things that struck me as strange when I first got here. Now that I'm reading it again over two months later it all seems very normal. Can it be true? I'm slowly turning into a Taiwanese person! I'll keep measurements of my eyes for verification.
Here is my list:
1. Almost all signs are written in Chinese characters.
THEN: So this is what it feels like to be illiterate. This sucks.
NOW: Let's just say I won't find myself in the men's restroom again.
2. Beethoven's "Fur Elise" blasting from speakers at random hours of the day.
THEN: "Ooooh an ice cream truck?!"
NOW: "Ooooh the trash truck again." What this means: There is no specific day/time for people to put out their trash here. Instead, the trash truck blasts an obnoxious beeping rendition of Beethoven's classic so that people know it is time for them to collect their trash bags and bring them to the truck when it drives by. Gotta stay on your toes!
3. 7-11 stores are on almost every street corner.
THEN: "That's weird, they better have slurpees."
NOW: "Yesss I can get some frozen dumplings microwaved for my dinner before class!" Also, people pay their utility bills at their local 7-11. You also get a sticker for every 30NT you spend (about $1) and you put them on a card to get free stuff after you have 30 stickers. I surprisingly fill these babies up quite quickly...
4. Every receipt is a lottery ticket.
THEN: "Great...more trash."
NOW: "Another receipt! I'll file this away by number in my drawer at home!" Why? Every two months there is a country-wide lottery with the numbers from the receipts. You can win anything between 200NT ($6) to 2 million NT (over $60,000). Worth saving? I think so.
5. People wearing breathing masks. There is the perfect mask for everyone...different sizes/colors/designs...
THEN: "Wow, they're everywhere. I wish some of my students wouldn't wear them, I can't tell if they're talking or not."
NOW: "Maybe I should get one too." (Only for when I'm driving my scooter of course...you know, keep out that pollution and all. I have seen some cute ones...ok no, scratch that.)
6. The local movie theater.
THEN: "It's inside a mall that looks like the Excalibur hotel in Vegas?? Cool!"
NOW: "It's inside a mall that looks like the Excalibur hotel in Vegas?? Cool!"
Upsides: Cheap deal: 2 tickets, 1 popcorn, 2 sodas = 670NT ($20ish). Upscale option: 2 tickets, 1 popcorn, 2 sodas, pre-movie lounge area with waiters, and waiters who bring the sodas and popcorn to you in your very own recliner! = $30ish (still yet to try this out).
Downside: Assigned seating. (My friend once went to a movie by himself and there was no one else in the theater. Then someone else arrived and where did he sit? He sat down right next to him in an empty theater - gotta sit in your assigned seat of course! Hahaha)
7. Hearing things like, "Coco, hurry downstairs!" blasting from my school's loudspeakers after class is finished.
THEN: (To myself): Why is a stripper being summoned at a children's English school?
NOW: (To my student): "Coco, your parents are waiting downstairs to take you home. Have fun on the family scooter. Please be careful, you will probably have 3 too many people on it for the drive home."
8. Driving my scooter in a sea of Taiwanese people.
THEN: Oh my gosh...help.
NOW: Oh my gosh...I'm still alive...aaaand I'm starting to drive like them.
Ok so it's really not too bad if you can predict the completely and utterly irrational decisions of the other drivers. I haven't gotten into any accidents while driving but unfortunately quite a few of my friends have. If there was a recording of my voice while I drive it would sound like this, "....WOWWW....haaaa! Are you serious!?....huh?....WOW, you really just did that....whoa whoa WHOA....HA!...Ridiculous....". I've decided it's best for me to keep a relatively good sense of humor about the fact that every Tom, Dick, and Sally is driving beside me on the road. Oh and when I say Tom, Dick, and Sally I actually mean Tom's mindless brother Ying, Dick's 100 year old grandmother Pei, and Sally's dear old friend Helen Keller.
9. The smell of stinky tofu
THEN: "Ahhhh!! Where did that absolutely foul/awful/disgusting/horrid/musky-puke smell come from?? Uh oh, I need to throw up."
NOW: My students dared me to try it this week sooo looks like Teacher Kyrstie has to finally come to terms with this famous Taiwnese dish. Next up: snake's blood.
Eye Measurement 1/27/2010: 3/4"
Eyelid Folds Check 1/27/2010: Still got 'em