Buxiban (English School)

Hooray! I have a smart phone and can now update my blog from it. Let me tell you about my school.
I love teaching because i can be super creative.

We have a really fun time! Here are some photos of the babies’ field trip to the insect museum.





In one of my high level classes, we made fruit pizza, to expand on one of our readings.





And back to the preschoolers, we learned all about bees, so naturally I let them sample some honey!



We do more than eat, though! We discover new plants…


…make Mother’s Day pictures…


…play water xylophones…


…play baseball…


And usually have a lot of fun doing those things. Teaching is so fun, challenging, and rewarding. It really is the perfect job for me ( no offense Starbucks) I just have to buy my own coffee! :p

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Shān (Mountain)

Jeanne and I recently took a long day trip up to the top of Alishan with our friend Jerry and, of course, little Charlie. This is Jerry:



He’s American, but his dad is Taiwanese. He’s our closest friend here and he’s super awesome. He’s also helping us learn Chinese! YAY JERRY!

We took off for Alishan in the morning. The drive was long but the view was stunning. Here are some shots of us going up the mountain (a 3 hour drive!!)




We made a brief stop at a temple to grab take some photos. Here is me and Charlie:




…and fat baby Buddha, of course. (Note: this might not be Buddha, I really am not sure)




Here’s me and Jeanne eating some gross-looking chicken thing, which was actually pretty tasty. It’s stuffed with rice and southwestern seasoning!







The bulk of our drive came after the temple. The views from that high up were really neat.







They don’t call it the sea of clouds for nothing I suppose. Gorgeous. Anyway, we got to the top and started searching the elusive plum blossom trees, which were supposedly blooming this week. On the way, we stopped for some more photo opportunities.

Charlie decided to go for a rugged outdoor pose and failed adorably. 




No plum blossoms yet…






We found some flowers, at least…getting warmer….














AHA! There it is! The one…yes, they ONE and only plum blossom tree blooming on the whole peak of this mountain. We were sure to get a lot of pictures of it…I mean, we drove six hours in one day just to see it! lol










Don’t be fooled by the smiles, we were EXHAUSTED  and really to journey back down the mountain (work in the morning, after all).


It was just as beautiful on the way down, but somehow we were not as amazed. I also experience my very first wave of carsickness, which was just as wonderful as you might imagine. Was the mountain gorgeous? Of course. Were the blossoms overrated? Oh yeah. Would I go back? Meh, probably not…but I’m happy I went and saw the beautiful mountain for myself.

Thanks again for reading! More updates to come soon. Don’t forget to enter your e-mail below to get a reminder each time I post a new update, or just subscribe you RSS feed.

 Zai chen (Goodbye) for now!

BONUS! Here’s Charlie’s fancy new harness. 🙂



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Shōu gòu (Puppy)


I promised big news and I have it! Many of you knew this was inevitable, and you were correct! What’s that fluffy thing in the bag, you might be wondering… Why, that’s the surprise! Jeanne and I adopted a baby! …and by baby I do mean puppy dog, of course. Chinese for puppy is “Shōu gòu” and it literally means small dog. This Shōu gòu’s name is:


Charlie was born on July 1st, 2012, making him just 8 months old. He is a purebred red toy poodle.  We got him from a good quality breeder in Tainan that ships poodles around the whole world. We got to visit with over 50 dogs and pick out our baby, which was a reassuring and delightful experience. This is a picture of Charlie’s dad, who happens to be a champion show-dog. Wow!


While I’m not a fan of breeding dogs for profit, I needed an animal that wouldn’t bother my allergies and would not grow too big for our small apartment. Because we got him from a reputable breeder, we know he will be small, hypoallergenic, and have predictable behaviors. To ensure his best behavior and prevent unnecessary extra dogs, he was neutered yesterday. Here he is napping in his special bed, which goes on the bed with us at night. (He also has a bed for the floor, but he’s not spoiled or anything…why would you say that?)


He is just a joy to have and is one of the best dogs I have ever had. He’s not the brightest bulb but he has a calm and sweet personality. His favorite things are cuddling and watching TV with his mama and mommy.


Taiwan is a great place to have a small dog because people carry their dogs with them everywhere. Toy red poodles are considered high-class thanks to some recent fads in Japan so there are lots of high-end shops and cafes for poodles around. Even places that don’t typically allow dogs will often make an exception for small poodles, Charlie included. And I mean, really, how could anyone say no to this little face!?


Charlie will be coming with us back to the USA, he already has all of his vaccinations and paperwork to travel. That’s all for now. If I left out anything, please comment with your questions! Thanks again for reading!



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Duì bu qǐ (Sorry)

First of all, I apologize for waiting so long to post an update. Things have been very hectic here. Teaching presents new challenges everyday and recently, my partner Jeanne got very sick with pneumonia and had to stay in the hospital for over a week. I was back and fourth their non-stop and she is STILL on bed-rest. No worries, she is almost totally better by now.

Because I honestly haven’t had time to assemble a concise post about the place I work yet, this post will be a hodgepodge of pictures and thoughts about living in Taiwan. For the most part, I really enjoy it and I’m even picking up a few bits of Chinese!

First of all, there are quite a few American things here. Starbucks in very popular but the employees don’t speak much English, so ordering a decaf double iced venti 3-pump white mocha is pretty much out of the question!


Other American things like Mcdonalds, KFC, and American-style Italian food are also around the city.  Also, you won’t believe what is literally on every single street and corner around here…7-11! Yes, just like the gas station…except it’s not a gas-station here. 7-11 is one of the biggest chains in the city. Each one has the same stock in a different set-up and it’s where you go to shop, eat lunch, and even pay your bills…I kid you not.

They all have this cute/weird mascot:

And this random “salad-bar style” meal with corn, tofu, “tea-eggs”, dumplings, and other odd things on sticks.

I don’t know what any of that is…but it smells weeeeiiiirrd and I haven’t worked up the nerve to try it yet! lol

Tea is also everywhere. Black tea, red tea, green tea, jasmine tea, hot tea, iced tea, milk tea, bubble tea, bubble milk tea…endless combinations of tea are always just around the corner. Black bubble milk tea is actually really delicious and I’m drinking it all the time!

That’s all for now, Jeanne and I are planning a big weekend trip to Kaoshuing on the upcoming holiday (Tomb Sweeping Day) AND I also have some exciting news to reveal soon. Thank you for reading, I’ll post again very soon! 😀

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Shēngrì (Birthday)

As you may know, I recently celebrated my 23rd birthday. Celebrating here in Taiwan was very fun. I missed a lot of my friends and family but there was no shortage of birthday wishes on my end.

This year, my birthday fell on a Monday so I had to work, but it wasn’t so bad…especially considering that I had lots of tiny babies to play and sing with. Check out the video below. At the end, one of the kids says “Happy Birthday to Kevin!?” and it’s even more hilarious if you consider that there is no one named Kevin in that class.


During lunch I went to one of the cutest places in Chia-yi, Mei Cafe. In addition to an adorable heart shaped tomato in my salad, Mei herself brought me some free blueberry hello kitty waffles for my birthday! I LOVE this place!

Birthday Salad

Birthday Waffle



Finally, after dinner, I blew out the candle on my adorable strawberry birthday cake that was bought for me by a good friend. Yes, the candle is a question mark! How funny!


I shared the cake with lots of friends. What a wonderful birthday!

Birthday Dinner

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Jiā (Home)

After quite an exhausting trip, we are finally in Taiwan! Our Apartment is lovely, the city is beautiful, and our work is fantastic. Seriously.

Apparently, it is Chinese superstition that the harder your initial journey into something is, the more blessed your overall experience will be once you get there. I’m inclined to believe it now! Wow!

So, first, here is our apartment complex. It’s beautiful, full of gardens, in a good area, and there are guards on duty 24-7.


We live on the 9th floor, but the fast elevators make that hard to believe. Look how high up we are! 





The apartment is fully furnished, huge, and free! You really can’t ask for more than that! Here are some photos of our space. First, the Living Area.


The Kitchen and Laundry Room.



The biggest drawback? The tiny tiny bathrooms!Image


I really can’t complain, though, because we have two bathrooms with toilets. Many bathrooms around here are equipped with what people call ‘Squatters’, which look like the technological marvel below on the left. 


Yeah…WTF am I supposed to do with that!? Lol. Another fun fact about Taiwan Bathrooms is that toilet paper doesn’t come in rolls, it comes in tissue-box-like plastic packages like this. 


At first I was really put off by this, but now I think I actually prefer it. Toilet paper and tissue are now one purchase instead of two. Hooray!

Other than the bathroom situations. Chiayi is a wonderful place to live. There is a 24 hour grocery/convenience store just 2 blocks from our apartment.Image

Also, Chiayi is riddled with cheep and amazing food. This curry came from a local Thai restaurant (Thailand, not Taiwan) and cost about $4.


Just down the road is a dentist office with this adorable mascot which I couldn’t help but pose in front of! This is the mascot OF THE DENTIST!  What is up with this place!? How is everything SO CUTE!?





I really like it here! Did I mention our apartment has three furnished bedrooms!? If you’re looking for an amazing vacation in the near future, you should come stay with us! Just ask us which airlines to avoid first! 😉

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Fēi jī (Airplane)

Flying to Taiwan is quite a journey on its own, but combined with unforeseen weather complications and mechanical problems, it’s becomes a full-blown adventure! What should have been a 26 hour journey with two short connections turned into a 3-day fiasco where EVERY SINGLE FLIGHT we had was either canceled or delayed. My partner and I arrived at the airport with plenty of time, not knowing the complications soon to arise.


We lugged our suitcases through the check-in line only to discover that each bag was just a few pounds overweight. “Maybe they’ll let it slide or perhaps there will just be a small fee” we thought. Nope… Try $650. So here’s what we do, we leave our bags there, go through security, and buy another suitcase. Then, we shove all the extra weight into that and check 4 suitcases for a fee of just $70. That is some messed up math, but at least we saved the money.

First, we get on the tiniest plane EVER to Houston, TX for our first connection.

Small Airplane

Except we don’t stop in Houston, we stop in Louisiana due to a storm and sit in the plane for an hour before leaving again. The pilot decides to fly THROUGH THE STORM so that we don’t all miss our connecting flights. This hour long flight from Louisiana to Texas was easily the most terrifying part of the entire process. In the tiny plane, we could feel every little rumble, jerk, and falling sensation of turbulence and I was legitimately afraid that we might die.

But, good news, we didn’t! We landed in Houston, fought though the plane, and RAN through the giant Houston airport to, literally, the other side. “You’re just a few minutes late, the plane to Tokyo, Japan just left. You’ll have to go to customer service to get a new flight.”

At this point I’m annoyed but optimistic. “I’ll just talk to someone right over there, get a new flight and leave in a few hours” I say to myself. Not quite…3 hours of waiting in line, 1 hour of waiting on a customer service agent to find a new flight schedule and I have my new, and very complicated, itinerary.  It basically says: Spend the night in Texas, fly to San Francisco then to Hawaii, spend the night in Hawaii (not too terrible), fly to Japan, fly to Taiwan and arrive two days late. We spend some time moseying around the airport until I decide I never want to go back to Texas again.

Texas Shit

So we spend the night in Texas (of course the did not pay for the hotel) take a nice hot shower and sleep in a real bed. Then the next day we discover our flight from California to Hawaii is cancelled but, figuring it would be better to be stranded in California than Texas, we fly there, still feeling pretty good. The plane was bigger too. Goodbye Texas! Hello San Francisco!

Houston Flight

Knowing our flight is canceled we head straight to customer service where they tell us (after a LOT of waiting) that they can switch us to a direct flight to Tokyo, tomorrow of course.  We spend another night in a hotel (our airline REALLY doesn’t want to pay for those) and leave for Tokyo. 12 hours in cramped conditions is no fun and next time, I will take stronger sleeping pills. Jeanne and I were both really unhappy with the flight attendants and amenities (we’ll be taking a different airline next time) but we survived.

Jeanne and Jess midflight

Nothing says “I wish I were unconscious right now” like taking pictures with fake smiles and greasy hair.


The view was gorgeous though, we flew over water the whole time so it looked just like an endless sky.

SanFran to Tokyo

Naturally, our flight was delayed, which forced us to RUN across the airport again, barely making it on our connection to Taiwan. But we MADE IT! I slept the entire way to Taiwan and woke up just as we landed. At last, we were here! We were greeted by the cutest little pilot you ever did see. Have I mentioned that everything in Taiwan is unnecessarily adorable? I love it!

Houston to SanFran

More updates and pictures coming soon! I promise to whine less but, really, what did you expect from a post about airplane travel? Thank you for reading, you can subscribe to future updates by entering you e-mail at the bottom of the page .




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Nǐ hǎo! (Hello!)

Nǐ men hǎo everyone! (That means hello in Chinese) I’m so excited to be moving to Taiwan and I’m very happy that you are interested in reading about my  travels.
I have a one way ticket from the US to Taipei which leaves on December 16, 2012. It seems like no time, but I have a lot to do until then. You know, the usual stuff: packing, cleaning, selling furniture, graduating college…no big deal.

This blog is a way for me to track and share my photos, stories, and adventures with my friends and family here in the United States. Even though I won’t have much to post until December, you can go ahead and sign up for e-mail alerts  by clicking “follow” at the bottom of this page. That way, you’ll get an e-mail every time I add an update to this blog and you’ll never miss any cool pictures or exciting stories.

Taiwan is a small country, especially compared to the United States. Taipei (the city I’ll be flying into) is it’s capital and the City I will be living in is called Chiayi (sometimes its also spelled Jiayi or Chia-i). Can you find it on the map?

Chiayi is a lot like Charlotte, NC (my home town) in that it’s a growing city located halfway between the mountains and the beach with great weather and a lot of fun things to do in the city itself. With a crime rate less than half of Charlotte’s, it’s both a fun and safe place to live.

Taiwanese people mostly speak Chinese,  but many speak Taiwanese as well. A good handful will also speak English (thank goodness!) and a few will know a phrase or two in Japanese.  Phew! That’s a lot of languages!

Its hard to believe that I have just over a month left in the United States! I’m a little nervous for such a long flight but I’m excited to see a whole new part of the world and meet lots of new people. I hope you’ll continue to follow me on my adventures. So long for now!




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