Monthly Archives: October 2010

This Week in Photos: Choose Your Own Adventure

Good news: I woke up this morning and the sun was shining.  After almost 2 weeks of daily rain, I was thrilled!

This week, I noticed that my former “Week in Reviews in Photos” posts have grown more and more full of words to narrate the pictures.  My original motive, however, was to have one day of the week where I just shut my trap and let you see what I see in this fantastic place.

So this week, I’ll take a break from the commentary. Continue reading

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Typhoon Update: China braces itself, Philippines hit hard

Hey folks, here’s a quick and rather serious update on the Typhoon, in light of my last post.  While we may make light of it over here in Taiwan, Typhoon Megi has been wreaking havoc around the Philippines, killing at least 19 people.  It is now headed right for the southeast coast of China, where people are scrambling to evacuate out of this very serious storm.  Over the last 12 hours, I have done some searching to get our weather updates, and found out the much less light-hearted side of the story.

Below is the link to the Washington Post video, which has some pretty intense footage of places the storm has been. Our hearts go out to those in the Philippines hit by the storm, and best hopes for the safety of everyone in southeastern China who are watching and waiting to see where Megi will hit.  As I find news of relief efforts in the Philippines, will add links to those soon.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/video/2010/10/21/VI2010102101664.html

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What if Every Season is Rainy Season?

This week the general southeast Asia environs has been weathering Typhoon Megi– formerly downgraded to a tropical storm, and then upgraded again to a Typhoon.  Luckily, it has not actually HIT Taiwan, per se, but we have had steady and at times relentless rain all week. Today, we have some wind!  Yum.

I’ve realized that Taipei weather is not unlike Boston weather, so no surprise that locals and visitors to both places love to talk (and complain) about it!  This has led me to compose a “Weather Mad Lib,” in which you can plug in either Boston terms (rain, snow, sleet, cold, “wintry mix”), or Taipei terms (rain, humidity, hot, fog, wind, typhoon, earthquake):

Hi there, can you believe the _______ today?  I mean, come on, yesterday’s ______ was pretty bad, I didn’t think it would get worse!   I know, right?  It’s more _____ than I remember it being, since the ______ in ____ of last year.   Well, that’s not so bad. This morning, it ______ed, maybe it will _______ again later today.  Don’t count your chickens.  Usually when it ______s here, you’ll be _____ing ____ all day, maybe even all week.  Has anyone seen the weather report?  Oh, don’t trust them, they said it would be only a 20% chance of _____, and it’s been _____ like this since last night.  The _____ woke me up at dawn! Continue reading

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Trying to Stay Sane: Watching Movies in Chinese

Click here to see Hakuna Matata in Chinese: it's awesome!!

Greetings, dear GMF readers!  My recent absence has been due to a recent flailing attempt at immersion in Chinese language, a perhaps ill-advised challenge I recently posed here.  It has been one week, and somewhere between losing myself in Chinese grammar, abandoning the experiment all together, and losing my mind, I have come to some conclusions about language pledges:

1. Above all, do no harm. (Like the medical oath this means to myself, to others, to the poor electrodes in my brain. Really, it’s just not worth it!)

2. It’s easier to speak Chinese (or your chosen foreign language) to strangers, classmates, or those who cannot or will not speak English to you.  It is IMMENSELY tricky to speak it to good friends who do speak English, or in any situation where you really need something specific and important.

3. It is also very difficult to speak solely in a foreign language if you lack certain vocabulary, especially such relevant and vitally important words as “need,” “shoes,” “whiskey,” “valium,” and/or “return flight home.” (Just kidding!  And I actually know that last one: 直飛到紐約, I think!)  Looking up several unknown words at a time in a dictionary, in public while people are waiting expectantly, can get frustrating real quick! Continue reading

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I Want to Dream in Chinese!

Image published in the New York Times with book review of "Dreaming in Chinese." Click here to read the review!

So I think I’m hitting a wall with my Chinese: I practice and practice and practice, and yet still, when given the option to speak English, I take it.  And I think that if I keep this up, in time, I will merely be speaking English-with-a-little-Chinese, and not a-lot-of-Chinese-with-some-English-every-now-and-then to keep me sane.

So then this NY Times book review came along (thanks, Kim!), of a book called “Dreaming in Chinese,” by Deborah Fallows.  When I read this book review over the weekend, I was struck by the cultural connotations and expectations implicit in each language.  Also, I definitely want to read the book!  And as I did my grammar homework last night, I began to realize that I was reaching the cliff of literal translation– at a certain point, trying to get a direct translation of this phrase, pattern, or grammatical structure is going to obscure and inhibit the sense that I was trying to make by learning the language at all.  Today, we went over the grammar structures, and they began to feel more natural and smooth in conveying a universal meaning, even if we would choose much different English phrases to say equivalent things.

So I think I’m going to take the language plunge and jump off the cliff: go for immersion and speak only Mandarin for 2 weeks! Continue reading

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Week in Review: Books, Views, and Brunch

It’s hard to believe another week has flown by!  I think the shock of culture of shock is finally dulling into the gradual acceleration of familiar time… punctuated by new Chinese vocabulary words, meeting new friends, and trying to balance maintaining a lifestyle with exploring a new place!  I am starting to get the urge to travel around our beautiful island of Formosa in an upcoming weekend, but this week, I satisfied my wanderlust by climbing a local “small mountain park” near my apartment, braving the wilds of the Zheng Da library, and seeking out an American style weekend brunch.

You have not paid your expat in Taipei dues until you've photographed Taipei 101 in a glamour shot and posted it on the internet. Can check that one off the list!

Some finds included: a gorgeous view of Taipei from the top of Fujoushan park, a whole collection of books in English on the 4th floor of the main library at Zheng Da, including the first volume of the recently published collected letters of Samuel Beckett (!!!!!), and a plate full of eggs, bacon, and hash browns!

It was a good week. Continue reading

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