Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Once a language is spoken, it is no longer foreign.

Once a culture is understood, it is no longer alien.

This past 11 months has truly been a journey for us...with “the foreign” becoming familiar and “the alien” becoming appreciated. Our time here has broadened our view of the world and opened our eyes, hearts and minds to the diversity of life. We cannot thank you enough for taking the time to follow our blog. It has meant a lot to us to have so many people with us on this adventure. We are looking forward to seeing many of you very, very soon!!!

Signing off,

Annalicia and Phil

P.s. For those of you who don’t know, we leave Taiwan in the morning of June 30th. From there, we’re spending a few days in Seattle. We’re scheduled to arrive back in Minnesota in the afternoon of July 2nd.

Monday, June 28, 2010


As some of you may remember, we posted a list like this way back in August. Since our time here is coming to an end, we thought it would be appropriate to make another list of more things we’ve noticed throughout the year that are different than what most people are used to in the States (rural Minnesota in particular). Just like before, we want to emphasize again that these are simply observations, not judgments of good or bad, better or worse.

Just a taste...

--Donuts and chicken foot eaten together as a morning snack

--The use of Taiwan’s national year in documents instead of 2010 (Taiwan’s current national year is 99, because the country became a nation in 1911)

--Throwing toilet paper in the garbage instead of the toilet

--Rolls of toilet paper outside stalls that you must grab before going in to use the bathroom

--Oftentimes no toilet paper at all in public restrooms...you must bring your own

--Toilet paper used at home that looks like this vs. rolls...

--Most parents paying for everything (they want their children to focus on studying vs. working)

--No "umms" or "oops"..."nigga" (we were kind of taken aback when we first heard this all the time...it sounds a lot like an inappropriate English word...until we figured out it’s just the equivalent of their “umm”) and "aisle" instead

--Pig's blood soup and pudding (literally pig’s blood)

--Everyone being super good at doing fancy twirls of their pen

--119 instead of 911

--Having to place your key at a hotel in a device like you’ll see below in order to get the electricity to work

--Masks wore often (to prevent the spread of disease), so often most people have their own fashionable one

--People burning cars for loved ones who have passed away (some people believe this will allow their loved ones to have a car in the afterlife)

--People thinking we’re absolutely crazy to be married “so young”

--Voice tones giving words meaning vs. just for expression

--Pizza Hut delivery scooters

--A sealed plastic tops on drinks (kind of like Saran Wrap)

--Tea and drinks usually consumed after a meal vs. during one

--Soup with almost every meal (regardless of how hot it is outside)

--People brining their bowl or plate of food right up to their mouths and shoveling it all in

--Everyone using their parking brake whenever they park their cars

--Everyone putting their cars in neutral as they wait at stoplights

--The idea that the farther you nose goes out, the more beautiful you are

--Scooters and bikes allowed inside areas like this...

--People answering cell phone anywhere and everywhere (we’ve seen them answered by teachers during class, by employers during interviews, in the middle of movies at the theater, etc...)

--Assigned seats at the movie theater

--The ability to bring in whatever food or drink you’d like into the movie theater without hiding it (we have literally seen people bring in their own personal bowls of rice and veggies from home)

--Required military service by all men

--Gardens in unexpected, miscellaneous places

--Funerals at the home of the deceased

--Wedding rings exchanged but not always worn (if they are worn, there’s no particular finger they’re suppose to go on)

--People burping anywhere and everywhere (burping seems to be regarded as sneezing...it’s no big deal...it’s appropriate...it’s not impolite...no one even flinches when some lets a loud one go during a meeting or in the middle of a conversation)

--Carts locked up...you must put in a coin, kind of like a deposit that you get back if you return them

--Using cash to pay for almost everything (rent, water and electricity, etc...)

--An absolute love of gelatin (in everything...drinks, desserts, cakes, on it’s own)

--Trouble ending words with a consonant (for example, Skype = “Skypee”, book = “booka”)
--Things constantly sticking to your skin because of humidity, all year round

--Numbers based on 10,000 instead of 1,000 (for example, “wan” = 10,000 and “san” = 3...so, 30,000 = “san wan”)

--Little chairs or strollers folded up on scooters for kids to ride in

--When you meet people in the street (on foot, bike, scooter or car) you don't always go/stay to the right...actually, you rarely go/stay to the right...often you stay to the inside and then merge to where you’re supposed to be...navigation in the streets here feels a lot like playing a crazy video game...same strategies :)

--Hand gestures for numbers (for example, when the thumb and pinky finger are extended and the other fingers are down, that means six)

--Hospital workers using bikes to transport papers and other things around the building

--No time appointments at the doctor’s office, numbers instead

--Garbage bags sometimes put over babies if it’s raining and they’re riding on scooters

--Families renting tombs for their deceased loved ones, then digging up bones after 7 years, and burning them

--Buns and other pastries almost always containing surprise fillings

--People very rarely using lotions or chapstick because of the humidity, year-round

--People watering fruit trees with cow's milk

--The love of yogurt drinks

--0:13 = 12:13 am

--People taking naps in public

--Different level flooring all the time....all. the. time. :)

--People getting the English words “floor” and “ground” mixed up because there’s just one word for both in Chinese

--The use of two calendars...a western one for business-like matters and a lunar one for holidays, farming and sometimes birthdays

--So many different types of moving vehicles (scooters, cars, bikes, motorized wheelchairs, people’s own inventions :) occupying the road

--Little old ladies driving scooters like pros

--Laws against having affairs

--Shops often located in the first floor of people’s homes

--Charcoaled food, such as charcoaled bamboo (apparently it’s “good for your health”?)

--The use of straws for almost every drink

--A huge wedding/engagement photo shoot before a couple gets married (minimal pictures on the day of the ceremony)

--Fried squid

--Small ceremony and wedding traditions taking place at the bride and grooms home vs. at a church or temple (couples usually have a larger reception after the ceremony at a restaurant)

--People thinking it’s incredibly strange (so strange in fact they feel the need to take pictures :) to eat raw carrots

--People breaking off the third prong of a plug-in if it doesn’t fit into an outlet

--Tomatoes eaten and regarded as fruit/dessert

--Bike parking towers...really cool!

--Almost never peeling oranges...always slicing them

--People being flexible about the way they read their written language (people can easily read Chinese from up to down or from left to right)

--Checkbook registers not written in, instead updated electronically at ATM machines

--“Final Countdown Party” vs. “New Year’s Eve Party”

--Men sometime cleaning the women’s bathroom without closing it and visa versa...urinals clearly visible from the outside of restrooms

--Recycled paper turned to blank side, bound and made into homemade note pads

--No canned olives, only fresh or dried ones

--Q: “What does a cow say? A:”Maaaaa.” (not “moo”)

--Q: “What does a dog say?” A: “Wap.” (not “woof”)

--A pinky pointed down at some = an offensive gesture

--Chickens being butchered and hanging out on streets

--Strict photo ID stipulations (no smiling, must see ears etc...)

--Dog running into classrooms every once and awhile while teaching

--Guys carrying their girlfriends’ purses

--no pretzels...thought it was dog food

--Eggs not refrigerated

--Random animals seen in unexpected places

--Oranges eaten with salt sprinkled on themk

--People often describing things that don’t taste good as, “NOT delicious!”

--Tea eggs

--Confusing conversations, for example: A: “This is good, what’s it made of?” B: “Yum.” A: “Yeah, it is really good. What’s in it?” B: “Yum.” A: “It is yummy. What are the ingredients?” B: “Yum.” (Only to find out it was made of yam! :)

--Seatbelts in cars (particularly taxis) for looks vs. use (oftentimes they’ll just have the belts and nothing to lock the belt into)

--Teachers slapping students’ hands, heads and behinds as disciplinary measures

--Firecrackers used as decorations (for Chinese New Year)

--Grilled snails

--Events (celebrations, funerals, etc...) held in streets, with tents taking up a bunch of room and no one controlling traffic

--Showerheads often just placed in bathrooms, sometime simply connected to the sink, with no curtain or door...just a drain on the floor

--People letting long hairs grow out of their moles (apparently this is good luck?)

--People peeling their grapes before eating them

--Ordering “smoked” salmon only to find out it’s raw

--Desserts that look like this...

--Teachers finding and paying (out of their own pocket) their own substitutes when they have to be gone from school

--People sometimes touching babies stomachs to decide whether or not they’re hungry

--People always saying “yeah” instead of “cheese” during pictures (and putting up the “peace sign” which actually just means “happy”...not really peace...to people here)

--We’ll let the rest of these pictures speak for themselves...

Sunday, June 27, 2010


As many of you know, Phil and I leave Taiwan this coming Wednesday (June 30th). With this being said, our last week or so has been filled with goodbyes...goodbyes to our students, co-workers, foreign friends and local friends. We’ve been attending dinners and giving speeches, accepting gifts and giving gifts. It’s been really nice. This past Saturday, we had a little farewell party outside, at a café. It was wonderful! We are so excited to see our family and friends back home, but sad to leave the wonderful people we’ve met here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


We just got the book, "Heaven Lake" by American author, John Dalton from another foreign English teacher. The reason it was passed on to us is because (part of) it takes place in Douliu.We have literally only read like eight pages of it, but the picture the author paints of our city and its people is eerily familiar to us. We just thought we'd pass on the book title in case you need something to fill the void you'll inevitably be feeling once we're back in the States and you no longer get news feeds about Taiwan/Douliu! :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010


This past weekend, Phil and I headed down to the southern tip of the island for some fun in the sun! We stayed with our friends, Andi and Peter, down there and had an absolutely wonderful time! Andi and Peter both went to Concordia in Moorhead and before coming to Taiwan, Peter had met a Taiwanese guy named Wade who at one point was an exchange student at a high school in Fargo and who now goes to NDSU. It’s a small world!

Wade is back in Taiwan for the summer, visiting his friends and family. So, he came down and hung out with us all weekend too. It was fun to have him around and so weird to have a house full of people on an island in the Western Pacific Ocean who were all very familiar with the Fargo-Moorhead area. :)

Andi and Peter leave Taiwan this coming Saturday. So, this past weekend was their last chance to visit some of their favorite places, eat at some of their favorite restaurants and hang out with some of the people they’ll be leaving behind. Phil and I were lucky enough to tag along for the ride!

On Saturday, we took a hike alongside a river to a relatively remote area where we were able to cliff jump into the base of a waterfall! The setting was absolutely beautiful. It was probably one of the coolest experiences we’ve had here! It was pretty surreal! We were lucky enough to do some snorkeling on Saturday as well. And, on Sunday, we just took it easy and hung out at the beautiful Baisha Beach.

A few miscellaneous things to note about the weekend...

-- Phil tried grilled chicken heart!

-- Phil and I were able to rent an awesome scooter for the weekend. In terms of scooters, it was probably one of the most sporty/macho ones out there. (The guy we rented from was all out of scooters at his shop, so we’re pretty sure the scooter he let us take was his own...we saw him riding a bicycle Saturday night...people here are so nice!) Wade ended up going to a different scooter shop and got a pink scooter with flowers on it...it looked pretty cute next to ours! :)

-- We were able to capture some video of true Taiwanese KTV in action. A lot of times people go out and do KTV for fun or it’s done at parties and celebrations, but often it’s done just the way you’ll see in the video...while people are relaxing in their shops or homes.