Category Archives: Taiwan

西米露之家: Sweetness of love.

August 23rd
One year in Taiwan. Weird day. Coffee scone and vanilla Latte at Island Cafe. Sat and worked on a picture project. Went to the gym. Hung out with Ringo…we always go to this drink place called “Sweetness of Love,” and get purple drinks called: 芋香西米露. So yummy!!! We walked around Hsinchu City a bit then decided to go to a rooftop cafe. Beautiful day. No sweat. Calm. Warm. Less humidity. Zenned out blue night. Neon lights. Glowing city below. Always laughing. Nostalgia is settling in. I can feel it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Sunrise from August 19th)

 

 

 

Oh so many missings right now… friends, routine, yoga…it’s hard to describe…hard to explain… I hold another country, Taiwan, in my heart. Thank you for the memories, the experience, the friendships, and another year of life abroad.

my Taiwanese Grandma

September 13th

Wow. I don’t even know where the time has gone. The last week in Taiwan was a whirlwind and I’ve been home a week now. So let’s recap. After flying from Shanghai (a blog post will be coming once I have pictures ready) to Seoul, laying over for about 2 hours since we sat in the plane for an hour before departing, I was ready to get stateside. Landed in Seattle and breezed through these new fangled self-passport check-ins at immigration. Waited way to long for my bag, but didn’t have any problems at customs…then I missed my connecting flight. Hello 8 more hours in the airport. But let’s be real. I was a wreck. I lost it. Completely lost it. I tried so hard to contain the tears, but they would.not.stop. There just comes a point of deliriousness and exhaustion and anything goes. Including yoga in the waiting room and drinking a chai tea while watching the Seattle sunset. Seriously… anything to keep from crying and my mind off the 11pm take off and overnight to Dallas and another 3 hour layover and 2 hour flight. It was the longest September 3rd ever…I basically repeated that day twice and then some and had been traveling for countless hours by that point. All I wanted was a hot shower and a bed. I was incredibly thankful that Allison came to pick me up at the airport (it’s been our tradition for so long and it meant the world) and took me to Grandma and Grandpa’s. The whole weekend was a blur…was able to see dear friends- (Mandy, Liz, Lori- fabulous to see you!) and hang out…catch up…got to meet my cousin’s baby, Carter; and 3/4 the siblings were reunited- Timmie, we missed you.

Overwhelmingly wonderful and weird to be HOME. I will admit sometimes I feel out of place, but I must face the changes in front of me and just accept the circumstances… I love these people and they still love me and that’s all that matters. The only thing constant is…Change. 

You’re probably wondering, what does she do all day now? Well. Let me tell ya…though it may sound picture perfect: a day of coffee, reading (GONE GIRL- O.M.G. you must read this), golfing with dad, breathing in cool fall air, and drinking wine (or a coors light with a lime) in the evening with the ‘rents…I actually have been accomplishing quite a bit…trying to establish a routine, working out- 5:30 spin class and light yoga (I miss my TWN yoga like crazy no doubt!), recovering from jet lag, not acting like a crazy person, cleaning for Mom, laundry, unpacking, organizing, and preparing for my next thing. Nebraska IS truly the best non-beach vacation. Surrounded by family and friends and soaking up everything “homey” before I leave again is absolutely amazing. I know I’m about to embark on another adventure off to someplace completely different and having a taste of home after being gone a year…no words can describe. Wide Open Spaces, Blue Skies, Green Grass, Fall Air, Love, and so many Hugs…

This weekend. Abby and Jake are both home. It’s wonderful just to chill. Abby and I watched Jen Hatmaker’s My Big Family Renovation and made a few healthy goodies. We made 2-minute Apple Pie Mug Cakes for breakfast. Then for our afternoon snack we made vegan Pumpkin Lattes with homemade almond milk (100 times better than Starbucks!!!) and vegan puppy chow. So delicious. However…I may or may not have had one of my mother’s chocolate chip cookies, a bit of scotchoroo, and a piece of pizza as well…Everything evens out, right?

Ok, think I’m all caught up. More Nebraska news to come in the upcoming couple of weeks!

Me and Carter

 

 

good for stretching the eyes

 

happy.

 

 

ohhhh Sunshine in my sky

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August: 84 degrees, 84% humidity. Island Living at it’s best.

…yet these weather conditions are preferred over snow.wind.and cold. I think I’m getting used it…I’m an island girl at heart, what can I say? I love sunshine, heat, clear skies, and sweat more than shivers, gray skies, and heavy coats.

AUGUST 1st! Lunchtime. I tried a new restaurant. A collaboration of Taiwanese, Thai, and Korean dishes. I thought I could order in Korean. Nope. I was wrong. So I had to point to the pictures. I order a Korean dish called 김치 전– pronounced “kimchi-jeon,” and a Thai dessert called “momo-jaja,” to drink I went to Coco and ordered the famous Taiwan bubble milk tea. Quite the combo if you ask me. But oh so delicious.

After Friday’s busy day of level 2s and level 3s and my 3 middle schoolers, I just wanted ice-cream and onion rings. Went to 7-11 for the ice-cream and Matcha-flavored Koala snacks. (haha) and then went to this street food stand…thought I was ordering fried onion rings…turns out I ordered fried squid rings…Oh goodness! I still ate them…they were seasoned with garlic, chives, and something else.

For my level 3s I did this “expansion” exercise where the students had to pick a subject i.e. You, I, They, We etc…a direction i.e. on, in under near next to…etc….and a subject…book, table, chair,…
Well…they thought they were sooo funny…here is some commentary:
“You- On- Megan”
“You- On- Monkey– teacher I will smash the monkey”
“I- On- Camel” sooo fun teacher!
“I- behind- Tiger” it will eat meeee!
“Super-cheetah- On- You”— wheee I can fly…

etc etc…maybe you just had to be there, but I was cracking up..
Then randomly this girl pulls out a (medium-sized) blanket from her bag and proceeds to neatly fold it as we are doing a recording exercise…seriously child?? what are you doing??

Helping Elva with her spelling…she was failing and now she’s getting 100%…just 10-15 extra minutes of studying! “”Teacher, if I drop the “e” on t-w-e-l-v-e and add an “a,” it spells my name- Elva!””

During my tutoring session with my middle schoolers we read an article about fishing bans and climate change and how it’s affecting various islands in the Pacific. I had them make up questions to discuss. One of the students asked “Do you like to eat fish?” and one responds, “No I don’t, but I still eat it.” I asked, “Why do you eat it if you don’t like it?” and the third students replies, “It’s like we have to go to school, but we don’t want to.” Brilliant.

Taiwan genius plastic covering…

#OnlyinTaiwan
You can tip the cup over and NOTHING spills
Obviously unless it’s through a straw…

But if you are riding a scooter you can easily put your drink in a bag, hook it to the “bag hook” and go on your merry way without spilling…until you jam the straw in once you’ve reached your destination…
It really stinks when the tip of your straw jams and you have to use a pen or something to poke an opening.
#TaiwanProblems

any guesses???
sweet potato and taro bubble milk tea
….
delicious!!!

Saturday August 2nd. I love sleeping in freshly laundered sheets. So wonderful. Crashed out. Finally a good night’s sleep. Discovered this hidden breakfast spot this morning with my yoga-friend, Amy. Oh my! What a delightful quaint place! The lady grinds her own coffee beans, from Italy. Usually at small breakfast places, the coffees are not good…more along the lines of fake-instant stuff, so I was hesitant to order, but I really needed a coffee today! Best idea…it was so good! Had a rice roll- sticky rice stuffed with meat, eggs, and vegetables…a typical Taiwanese breakfast. Yummy!!! Great yoga class today as well.

Sunday August 3rd…Met up with Amy and Jessica for breakfast at “Buns and Coffee,” (包子+咖啡(複合式養生餐飲服務) Tried delicious North Vietnam coffee. Pilates and another relaxing afternoon. Lots of cleaning and am beginning to pack my things….clothes and such that I’m not using.

Saturday August 10th

This morning I did yoga. Then took a train to Taipei. Once Yvonne and I reached Taipei Main Station we took the MRT to Tamsui. Tamsui is the port area of Taipei. A guidebook’s recommendation to see the sunset. Gorgeous sunlight cascading down touching the cityscape and surrounding mountains before casting it’s rays on the shimmering water…what a sight! Truly a peaceful scene with the ocean stretching before my eyes and just behind me the bustling market area and street vendors. Live music played along the boardwalk and cafes hosted a number of local artists as well. Delicious street food and fresh fruit smoothies. After our late afternoon and sunset here we went to Whalen’s, a Western restaurant that offers mostly Canadian dishes like poutine (a whole menu just for this!). However, we opted for the quesadilla and white chocolate brownie for dessert. Absolutely scrumptious! What a fun day!

Ice-cream “cream” puff

Didn’t go…
BUT pretty fab Starbucks location…
overlooking the ocean…
live music…



Sunday August 11th

Met up with a couple ladies from yoga (who are my mom’s age) and their families for hiking around 18 peaks outside of Hsinchu city. Then we ate Beef Noodles (a Taiwan specialty) at this famous homemade beef noodle restaurant. Yummy!
Relaxed the rest of the day.

Monday August 12th
Sunrises.

Thursday August 14th

Nikki brought Hello Kitty cupcakes today at work. And one of my students went to China for vacation and brought me back a pretty scarf and Hello Kitty fruit snacks. So sweet!

Friday August 15th

After today I only have ten more teaching days. TEN. I can count to ten. And after this week’s summer camp country activity I can count to ten in Portugese. Fun fact of the day. I desperately need my hair cut and a pedicure. The silly things I know…and on top of my thoughts I need to clean and pack and sleep and eat and prepare flight information. But all I really want to do is eat 7-11 ice cream and pineapple cake. It’s like my new thing now. Ironically I like to get it late at night after yoga class and I met one of the restaurant managers that I know on the street and she was like what are you doing? you are coming from yoga eating ice-cream. I didn’t really have the guts to say I also had pineapple cake and these grilled bacon-wrapped asparagus things (that are pretty much to die for) in my sack as well. #superhealthy. So people mark your calendars I will be stateside September 3rd until further notice of my next adventure…or perhaps I will stay a few extra months. Any opinions would be fab. Because I’ve become the most indecisive person ever. Or maybe it’s I just.can’t.focus.because.it’s.hot.and.humid.and I just want to eat ice-cream. and do yoga. in the air conditioning. I think I’ve mentioned ice-cream five times in the past paragraph. It’s just really.really.good. Even though it kinda makes me sick. Bleck.
My replacement came this week. He has taught at the school before so now my upper level 9 students want him back, cool kids I still have 4 more classes with you. Deal with it. Luckily my level 3s love me. Haha! I adore their craziness and I will miss them. Especially now that they are growing out of their temper tantrum…or maybe I’ve just become a stricter teacher and not put up with it. Like if they start to throw one I count to 5 and if they haven’t stopped they get a red point as a team so the whole team is like STOOPPPP. Amusing to say the least. Let them hash it out themselves.

Saturday August 16th

Hung out with Ringo today. Went to Hsinchu to get our favorite purple drinks…taro and sago tea! Then hung out and helped at her parent’s restaurant…I tried to help anyways! Just relaxed in the afternoon and at night went to a cafe overlooking Jhubei for dinner. Not as stunning as the cafe overlooking the Taipei lights, but we still had a good time laughing and talking.

Jhubei Lights

my dear friend sent this card
7 years ago on my birthday
we went to a Blues Traveler’s concert
What a great memory:
I treasure these friendships that last throughout life
changes!

my cafe BFF


Sunday August 17th

Went to Zhongli today with Zoe. We ate at this amazing Thai food restaurant called 泰美味. Iced Thai tea…Coconut rice…Green Chicken Curry…delicious! Afterwards we scurried from shop to shop to avoid the downpour!

My week in food…

I forgot Monday’s picture. I had vegetable dumplings. The usual.

Tuesday. MOS Burger.

What I ate: Hokkaido sweet potato croquette
Litchee (that’s how it was spelled on the menu) Soda with a lime
Specialty MOS Burger…burger with onion, tomato, and this salsa sauce stuff
Taiwan “Fast food”
Note: I prefer Market and Street food
WAAYY BETTER
Wednesday. Korean/Thai/Chinese Restaurant (not sure name)
Pad Thai.
Coconut Sago.
Note: I should not order coconut sago again.
Amazing Pad Thai.
Also. Side note about restaurants. I walked into my breakfast shop and they know me. My order and everything. So great. And the lady at the coffee shop knows my order too. So lovely having people know you. It makes me feel at home.
LLAMA PACKER!
Thanks for taking my clothes and
for helping make my suitcase lighter!

Yay!!!
Cambodia care packages mailed from
Taiwan.
Sent to NY, USA.

Thursday. I had a hot caramel latte and raisin cranberry scone from Island Coffee (小島咖啡). It’s how I survive 25 kids, ok? Don’t judge. I DID go to the gym right after. Then I bought carrots and grapes. My sister is convincing me I should start my home detox early. Forget giving up dumplings and coffee during summer camp session. I WILL survive. 2 DAYS of Summer Camp to go…and the LAST country is The Land Down Under…Australia! Yay.

This afternoon before my night classes I was listening to this song… “Where It’s At,” by Dustin Lynch. It’s a catchy new country song…you know the typical cutesy video with the cute guy (I mean not my type, but still cute you know…) …the usual–driving around, on a patio, drinking a beer. It gets me thinking… I wish I had that…*sigh* someday!

For now, I’m traveling the world…(something I knew I would do since I was in high school…) I will admit the countries I have picked I actually had never considered before I started this crazy journey in Summer of 2011. I thought I would go to Europe…you know Ireland, France, Germany…instead I’ve been everywhere, but Europe…crazy how life works. I’ve traveled and taught in South Korea, Chile, and Taiwan… Speaking of which…I have news!!! My Taiwan contract is ending and I have about 9 months before grad school starts in June of 2015. I will be home for a couple months before heading off on my next adventure. Any guesses where this may be? 🙂 (Details to follow!)

Navigated this photo booth tonight…so excited about the picture project I’m working on!!!

Friday. Walked to the tax office. Breakfast with my friend Amy. Yoga. Class. Told my Level 3s I am leaving next week…their reaction?? Whyyy teachhherr? Why go back America? And this from Elva:
“Teacher, you go back and marry? *makes kissing motion with her fingers* You kiss back in America? Then she got excited and says, “Oh happy Teacher Megan go home and kiss!” *Claps* (Oh sweet silly silly girl!)

Saturday. Today marks 365 days in Taiwan. Cheers!!!



Summertime: July. The Month of Mangoes!

Another rambling with Megan moment…

That’s right. Mangoes. Mango slush. Mango ice-cream. Mango ice. Mango cheesecake. Mango. Fresh or Frozen. Melt-in-your-mouth.

Happy Friday July 10th. I woke up bright and early…just in time for this stunning sunrise at 5:20. I had to photograph the sun’s progression upward…capturing the awestruck moment helps me realize how much bigger God is than us. How He creates this sight every morning…and though some of us aren’t morning people and miss light’s entrance to day…I thought I would share these images.

Went to the gym. Had a good workout even though I’m still sore from Monday’s lifting session. How did I think that 250 lunges, adding weights to squats, and deciding to start one-leg dead lifting would be a good idea? Owww! After, I went to one of my favorite cafes to talk to a couple friends and had mango cheesecake.

This past Tuesday I went to a Malaysian restaurant for lunch and had the most delicious Hainanese chicken and coconut rice. For dessert, I had an Indian banana pancake, a light flaky tortilla with creamy warm banana in the center, and Hainanese coffee. What an afternoon delight! I realized that the rice was just 35NT extra (about $1) so fast forward to Friday…I went to the restaurant and just had take-out rice! A treat with veggies and chicken. Why didn’t I think of this sooner! (I don’t own a rice cooker.)
Facetimed a dear friend who is backpacking around a few countries in Europe…currently in Portugal and I so wish I was there! Look how gorgeous this is…must add it to my bucket list.

But let me also tell you that I spent my Fourth of July weekend making 4 weeks of powerpoints for summer camp. The theme is “Travel the World…” Too perfect, right? I added UAE and Russia to my bucket list. The first month of summer camp we are “traveling” to Japan, UAE, Russia, and Germany. I taught them basic travel words like suitcase and passport and about the continents on the first day. We also make passports for them so at the end of each week after exploring each country they get a “stamp” in their passport. Just a simple icon of that specific country. For example, for Japan I used a koi fish. We listened to Sadako and 1000 Paper Cranes, and folded our own cranes. The kids learned to say “Hello” in Japanese, along with a few other phrases, and how to count to ten.

my perch on Saturday afternoon

Sunday morning outside

Week One down. Twenty 7 year olds. In a classroom the size of a dormroom (maybe), speaking Chinese all at once…with no Taiwanese monitor. Just me. Just imagine your 7 year old with their whining, bathroom obsessions, tattling, and coloring randomly on the desks. Times 20. And mine pretend they don’t understand me…or maybe they actually don’t… Here we go!

Zoe’s engagement party was Saturday the 10th…Took a train via the Coastline…The Engagement is quite different from American customs…the bride invites her family (and the groom’s parents) and friends to a nice dinner and they perform a ceremony. They will officially marry in January. The groom will invite his family and friends to that ceremony.

Wedding Cookies…another custom
The Bride gives each guest a box of cookies 

We popped firecrackers when the couple made their entrance

sprinkles on a seafood platter…

Toast!

Take me to the sea…

That’s soo Rita!

crazy hair

Week Two of Summer Camp=UAE. They loved the pictures and…watching Aladdin! So much laughter.

On Friday the 18th I had coffee with my past Chinese tutor and now friend…She posted this on the FB:

Casual Talk

My ex-student and now friend Megan is leaving Taiwan soon.

This independent and cheerful American girl left her hometown for university study at the age of 18 and later on started her adventure of exploring world. As an English teacher she enjoys the journey of learning different cultures and making friends.

Her next station is Shanghai China; I hope her Mr. Right is right there waiting for her, a brave and beautiful girl. I miss the time we spent together and her contagious laughter too…

Best wishes Megan!

 — with Megan Fuehrer at MERRY CAFE.

Stacy is such a dear friend and one of the sweetest Taiwanese ladies I know!

The 19th, I hung out with my friend Ringo in her hometown. We went for a hike and wandered the small town streets. She is so funny! I just love swapping travel stories and life happenings with her! That night her boyfriend was so nice and drove us to this restaurant called: 龍潭七分醉, which means 70% Tipsy. It was situated on top of the mountain overlooking Taipei. In the distance we could see the flickering lights of the Taipei 101. It was a beautiful clear night and twinkling stars above with a cool breeze. Good food, beer, and talks.

R: It’s famous in Taiwan…

M: Look at the MOUNTAINS with the sun shining!

R: It’s kinda like we are in the back alleys of Italy.

Dragonfly…

TEAL Dragonfly
small town girls fascinated by city lights…

龍潭七分醉= the name means 70% Tipsy

Can you find the Taipei 101???

my little world travelers…

On the 20th I went to Taipei with Nikki and Zoe. We had a fun time eating at a famous dumpling restaurant called: 鼎泰豐本店 Din Tai Fung Restaurant and shopping for Nikki’s list of fancy things like Pandora, Chanel, and Tiffany’s. Lovely afternoon tea time too at:
Erna Coffee-Erna Knutsen娥娜.肯努森的精品咖啡豆 They feature Specialty Coffee from all over the world. Indulged in Tiramisu and an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe cup of coffee. Nikki was so kind to treat us. Later Zoe and I went market shopping.

鼎泰豐本店 Din Tai Fung Restaurant

Erna Coffee-Erna Knutsen娥娜.肯努森的精品咖啡豆

we love tea time!

subway selfie- mastered!

Long weekend brought drowsiness on Monday (Week 3 of Summer Camp!)…25 kids showed up today…pure craziness…but I kept the kids entertained with construction paper, scissors, and glue to make Russian cityscapes! It was a great activity and they seemed to enjoy it.

5 a.m. Worth it.

Wednesday the 23rd brought a Typhoon Day! No SCHOOL!!! AC started acting up during the night so I turned it off until the repairman can fix it. Spent the day at Starbucks and the gym. Read, wrote, and zenned out. Rather stressed and anxious about going home and figuring out what to do before school.

Friday the 25th brought a thunderstorm and the perfect opportunity to teach the vocabulary “thunder,” “lightning,” and “stormy.” At the end of great class with no red points, a rainbow appeared. A true miracle indeed. Can’t believe I only have 5 weeks left with these kiddos. How much they have improved even in the past month with their speaking and behavior. So incredible to see and be a part of their learning and development.

July 26th-27th

Spent the weekend at two of my favorite cafes, Merry Cafe and Island Cafe making the last four weeks’ powerpoints for summer camp. America, Brazil, Egypt, and Australia.

On Saturday, I had a smoked chicken croissant and a margarita. It was Sida’s (the owner) birthday open house that evening, but I needed to get work done and go to spin class that night, so I came in that afternoon to chat and wish him a Happy Birthday.

On Sunday, I woke up and went to Island Cafe to see my friend Sherry. I Facetimed both Grandmas which is always a delight. I know I am truly blessed to be able to see and talk to them while I am overseas. Then the work started. I have about 7 windows open, go from latte to salad, and then I have to stretch. And heaven forbid the pictures aren’t lined up on each slide. Aiyaya! I really don’t mind doing powerpoints, but sometimes I can’t sit still!!! For lunch today I ordered a pumpkin salad on leafy greens with a light dressing, almond slivers and chopped walnuts…my latte had espresso ice cubes and was so refreshing. Sherry comes over about one o’clock (I had been here since 7:30, facetiming and powerpointing) and brings me a plate of fresh mango slices. She says to me, ‘my mother sent me a box of famous Tainan mangoes and I know you love mangoes so I thought I’d bring you some.” How thoughtful is she?? Love it! Current playlist: Lounge Beats by Paulo Arruda. Smooth.

Tuesday July 29th…

Sunrises and a run, coffee, cookies, and facetime with a friend who I haven’t seen in almost 2 years and yoga. My kind of morning…

July 21st

July 23rd

July 24th

July 24th

July 29th 

July 29th

July 29th

July 29th

July 29th 

July 29th

This song today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0a5WyAjL1MM

And then it was the end of July!!! Woah!!! Time flies. 6 more hours added to the teaching day. Not including all the prep time to make the new two hour kindergarten class fabulous. Think the topics will be “Making Cereal,” “Animals,” “Shapes,” and “Going to the Park…” Just thinking this is great practice for curriculum development and a resume builder…no books, no materials, just me! Ready Go! August will be the busiest month yet! 21 teaching days. Can’t believe it…getting sad, nervous, anxious, excited…so many emotions…I may be slightly scatterbrained and crazy this month! 🙂

Summertime: June!

Taiwan summer means…lots of sunshine, mangoes, and day trips!

Weekend one: My director took all the Chinese and English teachers to Kaoshiong, a southern port city, for the weekend. We went by HSR and stayed at a really nice hotel called Eda. It was outside of the city and had its own complex of stores and outlets. Since this scene wasn’t Ringo (my co-teacher) and I’s style, we taxied it to the port. It started pouring rain, but we bought umbrellas at a 7-11. Ate mango ice first, then took a ferry to the marketplace. We wandered around the market area and I tried seasoned squid again! The seasoning was pretty tasty, but the texture- rubbery. Took a walk along the boardwalk and sat at a cafe swapping travel stories then headed back. I am so glad we got away for the day! For dinner, Eda provides a buffet… there wasn’t much to do around the area so we just had a chill night in.

Weekend two: Rainy chill weekend at a cafe…sat and read and relaxed. Met with friends and ate homemade sushi and heard about Zoe’s UK trip…she brought me back a pretty teal ring and watermelon lip gloss! yum!
Weekend three: Countryside. I met one of Ringo’s friend’s from Taechung. She had also worked with her in Australia. They were able to catch up and I just followed along and listened to their excited chatter. It was a good weekend of friends and food. We ate at Ringo’s family’s restaurant for dinner. Traditional Haka food…noodles similar to Pad Thai and meat with side dishes. Delicious. On Sunday, I was up at the crack of dawn as usual so I left the apartment and went for a walk…found a cafe and sit outside and wrote for a while.

I don’t have many pictures of this weekend because I spent the weekend away. My friend Ringo and her friend Jane and I spent the day in Hsinchu wandering around then that evening we went to Guanxi, a countryside hometown. I love the country. Lush green rice fields. Blue Mountains. And the homey feel of being away from city life…watching people’s facial expressions and listening to the tones and pondering thoughts in my head…I can’t believe I found this cafe on the first random turn after snagging her keys…watching traffic, enjoying the noonday sun, sipping an iced coffee…life is good. Even though there is still some hustle and bustle in this small town I can still feel the calmness underneath. Knowing I can say the street names to find my way back…I used to be the one following everyone and not knowing my way, but sense traveling on my own and not wanting to stay inside while other’s sleep, my sense of direction has sharpened. It’s a freeing feeling knowing I can venture out on my own and let my friends sleep- they are free spirits too- I love sharing our adventure stories in English and Chinese. I appreciate the lack of technology use face to face interaction. These two are rare Taiwanese women. I thanked them for not being on their phones and they were so impressed and I know Ringo remembered the last time we hung out all day and she wasn’t on her phone either. I feel so lucky to have met another good Taiwanese friend.

When the other two woke up we went to Neiwan, which is one of my favorite places in Taiwan. A quaint mountain town with great market food. Tried stinky tofu- it wasn’t toooo bad! Just spicy. And rice dumplings and fried mushrooms. After walking around there for a while we drove around and headed to another market in Beipu. I tried this shaved ice with various beans on it with brown sugar….it was different, but I kinda liked it. Bought a cute shirt and dress for $8. (250NT).

Guanxi

traditional summertime treat

wandering Beipu streets

 SUMMERTIME SKY and other everyday photos….

MANGO ICE-CREAM

Thursday June 26th- Took the kids to McDonald’s because we had been practicing and reviewing how to order and restaurant phrases. What a riot…they spoke so well!
Friday June 27th- Met Zoe for breakfast- love that she is a morning person as well- it was a beautiful morning- sunshine!!!…My 2pm class was my last USA day with Ann and Yoyo- we brought in McDonald’s for them to practice ordering with me and then we read stories.

Weekend four: My bucket-list item of bike riding the 17km of “splendid” coastline at Nanliao is complete! Rented bikes at a shop for 100NT. Waters provided. Went for an afternoon ride around 2pm, a bit early compared to everyone else, but I’m glad we went at that time as it started to get busier during the second part. We actually rode 34km as one way is 17km and it’s an out and back route! Along the route there are water stops and restrooms and vendors selling grilled sausages and squid, and others selling fruit and cold drinks. Bright sun, beautiful sea views, smooth riding, and lots laughter and conversation. What a fun ride! Watched the cloudy sunset for a bit and sat at a outdoor coffee shop truck with cold drinks, then went to Hsinchu for food! (We love market food.) Tried a couple Hsinchu specialty items. The menu would read: jellied dumpling thing stuffed with meat, spring onion, and bamboo shoot…basically don’t ask questions and just eat it, you will like it! Some things are simply untranslatable.  

i love the sea. 

Can’t believe I only have 45 teaching days left…bring on two months of summer camp! No tears yet…

My latest jam is Ed Sheeran’s CD- just amazing. just a few songs…but the whole CD is stellar.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBwJhqfiUGI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ix9NXVIbm2A
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TqGEbROFd4

Took a bus to China Town… I’d be standing on Canal and Bowery…

I found this amazing cover. On repeat. When I find songs I like I usually listen to them for a week straight. On repeat.

A break of sunshine before the predicted approaching rainy season month of April comes…6:30 a.m. run, breakfast skype with grandma and friend at Starbucks, brunch on a patio with Zoe and a trip to Costco for Almond Milk, and an afternoon chat over tea with another friend, completed my Sunday with a kick butt spin class.

Some days are a walk in the park…others are not… with these three…another town tour and park day…

Tuesday March 25th….Happiest of Birthdays to my dear friend Sarah. Wish we were at a cafe or beach bar celebrating, but we will soon! 
***
Calm. Cloudy. Melodic coffee shop tunes. Reflective moments and missing moods…Birds chirping. Spring air. Cigar smoke filtering the patio only drifting away with the breeze. A hint of rain smell gathers but no drops fall. Peaceful bench outside with an iced drink and pesto vegetable avocado croissant. Afternoon delights. My book and thoughts…of goals, to do lists, and future plans, though enjoying the moment of staring off into space and penning these words to now blog…these words in which I have become productive.
January through the beginning of this month was so productive and clear. And now a lull has settled in…How do you snap out of a lull, how do you appreciate a lull, does life ever slow down enough for you to feel a lull? Maybe I’m so relaxed as of late…do I need to put forth more to get more out of here? Do I need to re-energize…perhaps revamp my routine…?
In recent talks with my mom and close friends I’m realizing that my age and what I’m doing is all about the perspective I have…that age is relative and even though I may feel older and often times act older than the people I am surrounded by, I shouldn’t compare my accomplishments or experiences with theirs. My purpose, my gifts are unique as are theirs. No matter what material possessions each owns, the jobs had, or places traveled, what matters is how you integrate into each others lives as encouragement and support. What matters is how you use your gifts given and how you give thanks for opportunities and blessings provided.
Maybe it’s not even society that determines what we should have, how we should act, or certain life stages that should be accomplished by XX age, but instead maybe it’s our own judgement inside our head trying to mold ourselves to our peers, when in fact, we should be celebrating our individual life journeys and recognizing the beauty of our choices and be amazed how we are connected in our differences; leaning on and supporting one another in this crazy life. 
***
This week. I have been up early. Weather has been warmer. Still cloudy but oh so warm. And my curls are loving the humidity. Watching the sunrise, running, and making yummy treats for breakfast is a welcome come back routine. I do so much better in this weather. Here’s what I’ve made for breakfast this week:
Monday: Chocolate Covered Strawberry Shake: Detoxinista
Tuesday: Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Baked Oatmeal: Chocolate Covered Katie 
Wednesday: Peanut Butter Mug Cake: Detoxinista
Thursday: Blueberry Banana Pancakes: Mind Body Green 
Friday: Baked Banana, Blueberry, Raisin Oatmeal: Deliciously Ella
Saturday: Overnight Chia Oats with Strawberry Compote: Deliciously Ella
Trend? Peanut butter. Bananas. Chocolate…oh dear. 
May 18th

And now…it’s the middle of May…has it really been a month and a half since I have written? Oh dear. The sun beams a 90 degree and rain is forecasted all week. Hello rainy season in Taiwan. However, I welcome the heat and humidity. I was made for sunny days.

When I’m in the elevator for the tenth time each day I am in the present moment…but so many elevator trips later I’m in my 9th month in Taiwan. Only about 100 days left. So much to think about and just a few more stops off my Taiwan bucket list.

I took a trip to Hualien with Zoe in mid-April. It was a great trip minus my scooter burn. We took the HSR to Taipei, then boarded an Express train for Hualien. The first day was gray and rainy. But the clouds sinking to the ocean and the eerie liquid waves splashing against the boat during whale watching created an ominous feeling. We spotted a few dolphins during the 2 hour ride. We went to a night market and had mango smoothies and this delicious beef, rice, and vegetable dish. Our hostel was called Colorful Taiwan and had a huge map of the world with sticky notes of people’s names stuck to their location.

The second day we roamed the city. Ate at a cute cafe, wandered a secondhand bookstore, and relaxed in a park. The beach was made of pebbles. When the waves washed back and forth from the sea to the shore it sounded like a rain stick. Gorgeous contrast of mountains, sea, green, and beach. We left a bit earlier than expected and decided to go to Taipei for dinner at the cozy Apartment Cafe before heading back to Jhubei.

A couple weeks ago I took a scooter ride in a downpour with a few other friends from the states…we drove through the Guanxi area.

This weekend (May 17th) I went to Taichung with my friend Yvonne…we spent the day wandering markets and the night eating our way through the FengJia Night Market– a definite must go in this city!

I found another cafe in my neighborhood called Island Cafe. A lady named Shelly owns it. She had a postcard wall. I told her I would send her one when I travel to Cambodia and go back to America. She is the sweetest! This is my new Sunday routine on her patio.

A week of tea times with co-teachers, sunrises, sibling facetime

another season at the Cama Cafe….
can’t believe it’s SUMMER!

Sorry for the absence…I guess I just got writer’s block- I’ve been focusing on being positive and enjoying my time here in Taiwan…phew a couple of rough months, but I’m getting back to my normal self now…more thoughts, pictures, and adventures to come soon! 🙂 Many thanks to my motivating traveling friends, and supportive family for being there through these rough patches.

Quote of the day or something along the lines of… “Megan, let me see your lemon tart you’re eating.” I show Abby my lemon tart and describe the fresh tropical creaminess to her. “Well, Megan, I had Chinese food tonight with Jake.” “Umm…Abs…I can get Chinese food too.” “Not Holdrege- Chinese food with your sibling!” True that.

"Let It Go…Let It Go…"

these. are. my. kids…
they make me laugh…
most days…

you know..just sitting outside of 7-11
eating ice-cream…

at the park!!!

Those three words are so powerful…let.it.go. Let the argument go. Let the stress go. Let whatever you’ve been clinging to that is causing you pain…let.it.go. Wow. Today in class, two boys were arguing and fighting (per usual) and all of a sudden one of the girls and another boy break into full on song of “Let it Go…” The two boys stop fighting and one says, “That’s from Frozen…” Priceless. It was hysterical. But at the same time so true. Just let it go…it’s not a crisis. Then I said “let it go” really fast and I guess it sounded like “Lego” and one of the boys says, “Teacher, legos are toys. AND a movie.” Oh wow. I was laughing so hard when the girl stopped singing and tells me “Teacher, when you laugh you turn red.” What.a.class!

Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ….get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”
― Abraham Joshua Heschel
http://deeperstory.com/will-wonders-never-cease/

I pray I never lose my wonder of this world. My wonder of the sea will never cease. The wonder of living among so many different people. Wonderful life. Wonder of the sunrise. Wonder of the rains. Wonder of rapid speaking in thousands of languages. Wonder. Amazement. I stand in awe. I stand in wonder of how much beautiful is in each smile I see. Coast to coast. Country to country. Wonder of rights and wrongs. Of beliefs and disbelief. Wonder of how strong God has made my heart. Your heart. This quote by Abraham Joshua Heschel says it all for me…Sometimes I just need a hug or word of a reminder about how much I strive to live my life that takes nothing for granted…that I wake each morning with new wonder, ever constantly renewed.

My friend’s daughter Emma is probably my most favorite kiddo ever. I think it’s because I’m best friends with her momma and have been friends since High School and bonded even more when she was pregnant with Emma. Her mom is an amazing friend…and I think it’s pretty fabulous I can skype with a 6 year old when I travel the world. This little girl says to me the other night…”Megan, I wanna see the whole wide world!” Love. And..”Do you know where China is?” Yes. “Did you know it’s not by the United States? Are you by China?” This girl. So smart. I absolutely adore her. So blessed I could have such an influence in her life.

Some changes have been happening here…My co-teacher, who is my closest friend put in her notice to the school and will be leaving in April. She is my closest friend here and an amazing co-teacher! I am going to miss her, but know she is going to do great things in her next step. We are planning a trip to the east coast of Taiwan in April. The city is Hualien. The mountains meet the coast here and there is excellent whale watching opportunities. Details to follow.

Monday March 17th: Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all my fellow Irish friends! Today the kiddos and I did a “town tour” since our unit has been on Places Around Town. The day was finally sunny and warm. We completed the tour with playtime at a neighborhood park and 7-11 ice-cream. So proud of them today- behavior and speaking were excellent.

Happy St. Patricks’s Day!
*courtesy of my sister*

Happy March Birthdays to dear friends Mandy and Sarah, and my bestest cousin Allison…love love love you and can’t thank all of you enough for your encouragement, support, and friendship! I’m so blessed to have you all in my life. Hope your birthday days are fantastic! We will be celebrating once we reunite! 🙂

Lately I have been having some heart to hearts with my friends. I so appreciate their motivation and advice. With that being said one of them recently said to me…”Megan, when are you ever going to have the chance to jet off to Cambodia for the weekend…for a cafe and yoga? Just go…” In a conversation debating a weekend away after a failed trip I attempted to make to go to Shanghai…you know, something along those lines…so I’m going. At the end of May for a few days. By myself. I simply cannot wait. I am going to Phnom Penh. For Reason #1: Artillery Cafe and Reason #2: Yoga! Phnom Penh…everything else will be amazing too…the food looks delectable and the markets, vibrantly chaotic.

I’ll end with my quote of the day, according to Sarah, my Taiwanese VIP status at it’s best: “My fruit stand just emailed me to let me know that they have my fruit juice ready.” (did I really just say this?) 

cafe owner and his pet SUGAR GLIDER!!!

Jasper..he’s just a baby

8 hour Iced Drip Coffee…delightful.

bright sunny day

Look what I found in the school’s pile of books…

…the student decided we should play “angry” Go Fish…

Nerd Coffee Bean…
Happy Friday March 14th!




The First of March.

typical Taiwanese food…and sitting outside!
ahh fried chicken

gym friends: we eat. we spin. we eat some more.

ya know.
just a banana tree.
on my run.

love my International traveling friends!

vegetable stand…

“free” green onions!

my fruit stand…I go here at least twice a week

red bean cakes—except the have other flavors too!

It is tradition for company’s to treat their staff to a nice Lunar New Year outing… My director recently took us to this restaurant to celebrate…Fancy!

I walk by my fruit stand on my way to work everyday… on this particular day they were squeezing orange juice right in front of my face; I couldn’t resist buying a bottle of it!

And now for the words.

I wish I was there…

for birthdays
for Christmas
and other holiday celebrations
for the birth of your babies
for your engagement parties
and wedding preparation outings
for your weddings
for grabbing a drink on Friday night
or brunch on Sunday morning
or coffee during the week
for hanging out just because…
and so much more…


but even more…I wish you were here.

to experience the craziness
the traffic, the signs, the randomness of everyday life
to be the only ones speaking English
to laugh with the kids when they are being so silly
to wander back alleys and get lost, but somehow find our way back.
to get weird food by pointing and hoping for the best
to run along the banana tree path
to go to yoga in another language
to be in awe of a new place…fascinated at reality, another person’s normality.
to see how small the world really is
and to know how big people’s hearts are around the world…

March 1st, 2014

These days I have a lot of energy. My sister gave me supplements and I think they’re just what I needed. I feel so much better. I am not craving sweets…mainly chocolate like I used to…in fact I crave healthy things like spinach, broccoli, and fruit…so much fruit! I have enough energy on less sleep and I don’t feel sluggish in the mornings. Basically I must credit her for this amazing health breakthrough. Thank you dear Timmie.

Yesterday I was walking out of yoga class and one of the older ladies approaches me and says…”How old are you?” I answer: 27… Her reply: “Oh my! I thought you were 20…you do headstands so well and you are so good at yoga…” Sweet. However, it got me thinking…I like being 27…(I like it even more looking 7 years younger) because at 20, I wasn’t certain who I was, I was unhealthy, I didn’t have direction, and I definitely didn’t have the confidence I do now…I mean losing twenty pounds and traveling to 9 more countries on three different continents probably helped… Just a thought. 🙂

Taiwan 2014

Yeah…that’s me… 7 years of a constant battle with weight loss and I’ve finally figured out a healthy balance of diet and exercise…yay! I’ve almost mastered that headstand!

me in Nebraska, 2008
me in Africa, 2007…

Because at 27, even though there are countless questions unanswered and uncertainties in my life that I would love to have planned, I’m ok with the unknown and just living life. In the past month of my writing absence I was in a growing period, trying to settled my life down from the ups and downs I was experiencing and how homesick I was…through so much support and prayers from family and friends, and a lot of faith too, I overcame a rough month. At 27, I am stronger than I was…both mentally, emotionally, and physically. And I thank God for saving me with His Love and Grace and Forgiveness. Sometimes I lose track in the whirlwind, but He is my solid ground even when I’m shaking…stumbling…and crashing down in this crazy life.

With all that said, I have exciting news! I have applied to grad school…and was accepted into the Masters of International Studies program at Concordia University-Irvine. The full plan details are unknown right now, but I’m working on it! I am looking forward to continuing my education so I can teach at a higher level and explore other countries.

And before I forget…I must take this moment to wish all the friends with February birthdays a Happy Happy Belated birthday…My brother, Laura, Lori, and my friends’ daughters- Belen and Emma…and anyone else reading this with a February birthday!!! Hope you had a fabulous day!! Also…Congratulations to my dearest cousin and friend on the births of Carter and Ella; I absolutely cannot wait to meet these beautiful babies- can’t believe they are one month old already! Love and hugs to you both!

This song. On Repeat. And This one too. My friend sends me the best songs; thanks ya!!!

Cheers to the First of March!!! wow. that was a lot of exclamation points…maybe that’s what sunshine and warmer does to a person…