Concert in a Typhoon

I don’t have a picture of the events below, so here is one of the other intern and me at the top of Taipei 101. If you ever go to Taipei, coming up here to watch the sun dim and the night life begin is a must. Besides, this tower is designed to withstand typhoons, which is both a motif in this post and a clever architectural feat.

For one of my freelance jobs, I’m writing advice on teaching English overseas because, you know, after interning I have loads of wisdom. I’m drawing inspiration from emails to friends during my time in Taiwan. As I flew to Taiwan two years ago this Saturday, I thought that you’d enjoy an excerpt from one of these emails.

Dear O,
Here’s another great example of saving face: Yesterday J and I sat through a 3 hour school opening ceremony, outside, IN THE MIDDLE OF A TYPHOON. We couldn’t leave, because we had seats on the front row, next to the school’s founder, and we had no way of getting home. The school’s founder had declared that the school was going to celebrate Confucius’ birthday, and because he holds all the power (literally–that is what everyone says when they talk about him), the concert continued even when it started pouring. The celebration included a grand piano, dancers, and an orchestra, all playing without shelter in the pouring rain. I’m sure some of the instruments got ruined and I kept waiting for a dancer to slip and break a leg. Or lightning to strike and kill all 5,000 students. How hard would it have been to reschedule? About half way through J and I just lost it and just started laughing and laughing until we cried. Then again, we were so drenched that most people assumed our tears were more rain drops. Of course, as soon as we started laughing, the camera men were all over us. I’m sure a picture of the two of us will be used in some propaganda poster next year “Look at how much fun the two foreigners were having”. Oh well, at least we made it home alive.

I love my host family! I can’t actually communicate with anyone but the daughter AT ALL (the grandparents don’t even speak Mandarin, they speak an indigenous dialect that is basically a different language), but we smile at each other a lot and they have been extremely kind to me. I feel really awkward most of the time, but I keep telling myself to pretend that I’m a stone, and I just need to accept feeling awkward, and then let it slide off me like water. I think that I finally mastered which rooms I have to take my slippers off in, how to use dried plants to wash dishes, table manners, washing laundry with a bowl and brush, and the complex recycling system. I am also a master cockroach slayer. Cockroaches fly here–something I discovered as I was falling asleep one evening in my first apartment. It’s been interesting to watch myself go into survival mode, when I have to conscientiously think about correctly doing each small movement I have to make (like walking in Asian slippers). Thank goodness breathing is the same or I would be dead!
P.S. Rereading this makes me thankful to be in Cincinnati and married. It was weeks like this one in Taiwan, and the quiet time after J returned to the States, that convinced me that traveling is only fun when you have someone to travel with.

P.P.S. My chopped up story appears in this post (don’t go there, I just feel like I need to link to it since I gave them the rights to use it). 

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  • Paola

    Wonderful pic!!!!
    Kisses doll!!!

    My Facebook



  • This is so fun to read! I am so jealous of your travels!! I save all my emails from my friends who are teaching in Thailand and I hope they find a use for them some day too haha!


      I’m sure they will! That’s so nice of you to save them–something that we don’t always think of at the time, but always wish that we had!

  • A TYPHOON!? That’s definitely not a story that you hear every day, but I’m so glad that you’re safe. And hey! Think of it this way – at least you have an experience that you can share with your readers and friends! XOXO


      Thanks! Yeah, it’s fun to laugh about it now… at the time, not so much:)

  • Mon

    woah, what a life!

    mon |


      Yeah, looking back it’s hard to believe it was real. But it definitely was!

  • Barbi


  • I’m Taiwanese, but grew up in LA, moved to China, and now am back in the USA, but in the state of Pennsylvania. I visit Taiwan every winter break to see my grandparents and the rest of my extended family. My brothers find it very hard to communicate with everyone, but luckily for me, I’ve retained my Taiwanese speaking and listening skills, and my Chinese has come in handy too! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s


      Audrey, that is so cool! I bet visiting every year helps you keep your Taiwanese fresh. You’re so lucky to be able to move comfortably between those three cultures!

  • You guys are so pretty!


      Thanks Laura Jane!