My Fulbright Year in Taiwan


Adventures in EFL

The last day, reflecting on our year

This is our last day in Taiwan. We spent the bulk of yesterday packing, then we went out for dinner. Today will be spent doing some last-minute laundry, closing my bank account, and hiding from the heat in the air-conditioned comfort. The van comes for us at 6:00 this evening for am 11:00 pm flight.

Stacy has been encouraging the boys to reflect on their experiences over the last year. Evan finally opened up a little at dinner last night. He said that he had to adjust to a lot of changes in his environment, and to a new way of life, and it was hard at first, but that the experience was worth it.

Ian said that if he could go back in time and give himself some advice, he would tell himself that if he wants to be happy in Taiwan, he will have to change his way of doing things; he can’t expect life in Taiwan to be the same as life in the US.

What about encouragement to past self from future self? Evan: “Stick to it, dude. You can do it.”

Stacy and I think that the boys both learned a lot and grew emotionally (as well as physically). Evan probably had more learning to do, and Ian had some growing-up to do. They both are leaving Taiwan with a much greater appreciation for this side of their heritage. More importantly, they know more about themselves now. We are so very proud of both of them. They met a huge challenge head-on, and succeeded on many, many levels.

This may be my last post from Taiwan. This has been a wonderful year, a growing experience for all of us. Whatever our next adventure is, this year in Taiwan will be a part of it, because Taiwan is an even bigger part of us now.

I’ll close with a photo of my favorite tea shop in Yilan. It sells about 100 different kinds of iced tea. Ian’s favorite is bubble passion fruit green tea. I like grapefruit juice green tea. Evan’s a traditionalist, bubble milk tea. Stacy, being Stacy, likes to get something different every time.

Thanks for reading! See you on the other side!

Packing sucks

We hate packing. But it has to be done. After two days of cleaning and a day and a half of packing, we are almost all done. In the interest of full disclosure, Stacy did most of the work, especially the cleaning. The boys have been very good sports, helping out whenever we asked.

We managed (just barely) to get all of our crap stuff  into the allowed two pieces per person, and no more than 23 kg per bag.

When lunchtime came around, we didn’t have any clear table space to use, so we picnicked on the floor.

In just over 24 hours, the van will come for us to take us to the airport. That we’re leaving Taiwan is starting to sink in with me.

Special medicine

I have a small cold. Usually, I wouldn’t see a doctor about it, but since we’re getting on an airplane tomorrow, I thought I should have a doctor take a look.

Not surprisingly, the diagnosis was that I have a small cold. I got some pretty medicine to take. Have you ever seen a hexagonal pill before?


Local folk wisdom holds that the summer heat begins after Dragon Boat Festival. I have as much faith in Chinese folk wisdom as I do in any old wives tale, but sure enough, right after the holiday on June 16, it got hot.

Summer is officially here. Highs regularly in the 90s, with humidity to match. And it doesn’t cool off much at night, either. It will stay hot well into November.

Stacy hates the heat, and when she’s hot, she hates to have people touch her. This is why Stacy is so unhappy in these pictures.

The boys know this, which is why they’re so happy in these pictures.

Quote of the Day

Ian, as he is packing: Dude, all of my underwear is like one year old, at the youngest!

Non Sequitor of the day

Ian (to Evan): Have fun eating pancakes in the car.

Quote of the day

Stacy: Ian, you have ants in your pants!

Ian: It’s Evan’s fault.

Evan: Yeah, I’m a giver.

Wrapping up

Today was the last day for ETAs to teach. Our appointment period doesn’t end for another week, but they need time to pack, sell their scooters, close their bank accounts, and say good-bye.

We had our last workshop of the semester today. It was mainly a good-bye party, a chance for us to meet socially for the last time as a whole group.  Several local English teachers said some very nice things to me as we parted company.

Only in the last few days did I finally realize that I have to separate my frustrations with the ETAs’ shenanigans and misbehavior from my own work and contributions. Looking at my own activities this year, I realize that I had a very fruitful year. I grew professionally, contributed to Yilan County, and learned even more about Taiwan.

It will be hard to leave, but at least I will be able to leave knowing that I will leave some good behind.


I love this. The Chinese reads: “All-New Used Tools”

Sleeping in a museum

Yangmingshan 陽明山 is a national park just north of Taipei. It is a volcanic mountain, which means that it has a lot of hot springs. There is a hotel on the mountain which has been in operation since 1952, and it tries hard to maintain the same look and feel that it had when it first opened.

Walking into a room in the hotel is like walking back in time. The furnishings in the room are like something from a museum. It reminds me of a cross between a museum exhibit and an interpretive historical center. Also something like the Grandpa Chiang Cottage. It was pretty cool to stay there.

The most interesting thing about the hotel was the bathroom. The attraction of the hotel is the hot springs. For hot water, the hotel pumps hot spring water directly into the room. The bathtub is a concrete hole in the floor, about three feet deep.

The idea is that for a bath, you soak in a hot spring, in the comfort of your own hotel room. It’s quite comfortable, with a single exception. Hot springs have a lot of sulfur. If you’ve every been to Yellowstone National Park, and have smelled the hot springs there, you will know what the bathroom smells like.

And it isn’t just the bathroom. The sulfur smell permeates through the entire hotel. I could sleep through it, but Stacy kept having dreams about gas leaks.

It was a memorable experience, and I recommend it, but not everyone would appreciate it.