FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!!! Monday, September 1st. I wake up at 5:30am (ew) and get ready for my first day of school! I take the shuttle bus at 6:25am, which gets me about a 3 minute walk from the train station (as opposed to the 35 minute walk from the apartment without the bus). I push the button at the correct time, making the bus stop where I wanted…which might not sound like a big deal but it was my first time on Taiwanese public transportation alone (and only my second time on the bus ever). So, I successfully made it through 1/3 of the journey. Then, I get to the train station, wait in line and get to the ticket counter where I confidently say, “Yi wei dao Su’Ao!” “One ticket to Su’Ao!”. To my shock and surprise, he understands and gives me a ticket!! This was my first time ever using Chinese to a stranger…monumental moment.
Then, I had the next hurdle. Getting on the correct train. Once the attendant checks your ticket and lets you through the gate, youre on your own. And there are many platforms and at each platform, multiple trains come through. The problem with taking the local train (which is how I get to Su’Ao) is that the ticket has no information on (like train number or time of departure) and the local train has no information on (like maps, stops, number etc). So it’s pretty easy to get on the wrong one. I had Lakyn write me some important phrases in my Chinese book on Sunday…things like “Where is my train?” “Does this train go to Su’Ao?” and so forth so if I wasn’t sure I could ask around. But, I did it without any help! I got on my train, waited four stops and got off at the right stop. I was so excited when I saw Sophie waiting for me at the station! I did it! I only had the 15 minute walk to go and Sophie would be with me the whole way. SUCCESS. So, I got to school with Sophie and got a quick tour of the important places…the office, the bathroom (only squat toilets ewww) etc. Then, we made our way to the English Classroom. I watched Sophie teach 5th grade in the morning and then I had two of my sixth grade classes in the afternoon. I will co-teach all four sixth grade classes with Sophie (my LET). So, for both Monday classes we just did introductions. It was fun getting to know them, trying to learn their weird English names (yes, I have a Mirt and a Titty…..not real names but theyre allowed to pick so there it is….)
My English Classroom!!
Being at school is like being a celebrity. Students would sit outside the English Classroom staring through the windows at me. Everyone wanted to say hi and ask me questions and everyone stared. It was really funny. I had lunch in the principal’s office with the rest of the teachers and administrators. There are only about 10 of them because homeroom teachers must eat with their students, so it’s teachers for Music and English and things. I couldn’t understand much of the conversation but it felt good to be invited and involved in the lunch. Afterwards, the principal (who in case anyone missed it…I absolutely adore and is the reason I chose Su-Ao as my first choice), asked me to stay after. He gave me a big coin that is blessed and is supposed to bring me good luck and fortune this year at school. He then gave me a modern calligraphy pen (uses ink in the pen) and a book to practice. I cannot wait!! I think calligraphy is so beautiful and now mine maybe can be too! He also invited me to tea when we both have time. I felt so welcomed and at home on my first day. I couldn’t ask for anything better!