I can’t believe we’re nearing our fourth week of school! So much has happened, and I apologize for the delay in this blog post. In short, I have been placed at two schools–Fong Li and Fong Yuan Elementary schools. I’m at Fong Li three days a week, and at Fong Yuan the other two days. They’re five minutes apart from each other down south on Route 11, which is about a 15-20 minute scooter ride away from my apartment, but the commute is quite nice.
Unfortunately my situation with my LET has been extremely tumultuous and very difficult; my director corroborated that she is impossible to work with, so my schools and Fulbright have decided to split us up, so that I will be solo teaching! It’s not what I expected to happen as an ETA, but it is overall and upgrade from having to co-teach with her. It certainly adds a lot more work, pressure, and stress on my plate, but my priority is to be there for the students and spark their interest in learning English. The kids at my school are really quite adorable. Some of them have really warmed up to me already, yelling hello from across the hallways or wanting me to take selfies with them. I’m really looking forward to getting to know them better!
In other happy news, I feel like I am getting along well with the rest of the school staff! I have had a lunch and a dinner with a combination of Fong Li teachers and admins, was invited to a teacher’s wedding on October 1, and a teacher at Fong Yuan invited me to go to the night market with her and her friends this weekend. It’s great to know that I am surrounded by friendly people, and that I have a good support base at both schools.
I think I am in the process of really adjusting to living here in Taitung. What has helped immensely is having a great group of fellow ETAs here. We share all the crazy stories about our schools over LINE (the popular chat app in Taiwan), eat a large portion of our meals together, work out together, and hang out in our free time. This past weekend, we’ve also started planning out our winter break travel plans. So far, we’re planning on going to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam together. Super exciting!
We also spent the last weekend in Taipei for the Fulbright welcome orientation, where Fulbrighters from all over Taiwan were invited for two days of orientation events. It was nice getting to know some of the other ETAs, as well as learning about all the master students’ and visiting scholars/fellows’ research and projects. A few of us also stayed an extra day in Taipei to explore the city, which was quite fun. We walked around Taipei 101, got life-changing scallion pancakes in the Dongmen district, somehow stumbled upon free drinks at an open bar, and explored the lively Ximen shopping district. We arrived in Taitung Sunday evening absolutely exhausted!
And to end, a quick blurb about some of the local travels that we have done during the past month in Taitung: going up Day Lily Mountain in Taimali, enjoying a lazy Saturday in the Zhiben hot springs, braving a strenuous five hour hike up Dulan mountain, and participating in a Bunung Tribe culture day up north in Luye. It’s all been quite fun; we’re also planning on going south to scenic Kenting next weekend, which we are all quite excited for!