I grew up in the North Eastern United States, where the winters can be quite harsh. I remember waking up early in the morning to watch the list of school delays and closings and becoming ecstatic when I saw my school's name listed (which was usually once in a blue moon due to the sadists that were in charge of the school district). Here in Taiwan, it's much the same only for typhoons. This little island gets pelted by heavy rains and strong winds during the summer months...my apartment comes with bars on the windows for typhoon debris not burglar protection. Apparently there was a typhoon that hit Taipei last Friday, but it was a let down as I still had to work.
Earthquakes are the other natural disaster that are common to Taiwan. To date, I have only physically been in one earthquake, and that was while I was sleeping. I blame it on some uber strong sleeping pills I was given in the hospital, but truth be told I am able to sleep through an earthquake. The medal for sleeping, however, belongs to a former student I had in Yemen who apparently slept through a bombing.
I am in a two week summer break from my normal classes, and I need it. While I went through a month of insomnia due to my sciatica I actually wanted to murder children...after I became rested again I am back in action. However, I am appalled at how spoiled some of these children can be! Therefore, I am happy to have a bit of a break. I've also started teaching little kindergarten children in the morning...cuteness! I have already fallen in love with them.
I am finally settled here in Taiwan, but as always I'm planning what will be coming after my contract expires in March. Ideally I would like to return to the Middle East, my Arabic is failing me big time. It's a bizarre mix of Mandarin that comes out now. I have found several good offers in the UAE, and as long as I don't plan to be having sex on the beach in Dubai (crazy Brits were busted for this recently) it will be a welcome change from the conservative nature of Yemen. The more and more I keep thinking, I need to get back to grad school so I can begin a career outside the realm of teaching. I enjoy it, but it's a way to pay my debt and get experience abroad...I never expected to do this for the long term. I do have to admit, it's extremely rewarding.
At the moment, I'm the happiest I've been in quite some time. I was burnt out in Yemen, and the whole ordeal with my back p ut me into tears for months. I've met a good group of people here in Taipei, and am enjoying life again. I keep thinking of some other people, all of them expats, who I met while living in Egypt and Yemen. When put in such a stressful living environment, you can become close and form bonds stronger than you do with people you may have known all your life. While I have kept contacting with many, there are a few that I have lost contact with. I know that if our paths were to cross again, there would be no hostile feelings...just a curiosity to know what they have been up to since last seeing them. Then there are those, that you know, no matter what your paths will never cross again. It's strange how I can sit here with some awesome memories, but realize they're only memories and that the people I was with can never be reproduced. I guess it's the people you know that you can hit the rewind button with that are the precious few that you should hold on to.