Sunday, October 25

The more you look, the more you see.

It's funny: when I go to countries where everyone is speaking a foreign language, certain emotions I have become louder. The emotions that become louder are linked to the emotions I know how to express. Invariably, I felt more apologetic in France, and I was well aware of how little French I knew (I was most comfortable apologizing and explaining that I knew little French). In Germany I really liked greeting people, because that was what I knew how to do (I liked saying hello). Even in England, where I spoke American, I felt abnormal, perhaps because there were so many new slang terms and idioms.

Here, in Taiwan, I think the food is delicious, and I'm very interested in knowing how people are doing, although I really don't know what their responses mean. I also feel like the layout of the city is pretty confusing, although I'm fascinated by it. I would posit this is because I find the language fascinating and confusing, but feel pretty good about asking people how they are. I also know how to say, "That's delicious!" It should be noted that I also understand all four characters in the phrase for "Emergency Exit," and so now, I am convinced that Taiwan is obsessed with evacuation. Are you with me?

I would politely request, as I often do in Chinese (Qing wen*... = May I please ask...) that you reflect about how your experience with any language has made you feel about living in the place where it is spoken. Are you bored with a language, dialect, or set of idioms/slang words? Does that make you feel bored with where you live? Have you ever been to a foreign country and felt the way I do? Or am I linguistically touched?

* Chinese characters have tones over them, normally, so you have to say this phrase in a certain way. I'll have to figure out how to type the tones.

Yesterday and the day before I've been looking around, seeing some wonderful new neighborhoods, an apartment, and getting my scootering legs beneath me--oh man, I thrive on that stuff. I know I said I thought scootering was dorky and ridiculous, but honestly, it's ridiculously fun, particularly in a place where everyone is doing it illegally. Let the record state that breaking the law while doing something makes it cool. So, yes, this means brushing your teeth while burning a flag is achingly hip. Get to it (not to say that brushing your teeth wasn't the bee's knees to begin with).

The central issue for me, right now, is deciding where and how I want to live. At the moment I don't really know anything about the location of the school I'm going to be teaching in, so it's hard to make these decisions. I don't know if I want to live as a minimalist, a maximalist, in the city, in the suburbs, in the country, near a lot of shops, near some natural features of the earth, near expats, far away from them, or all these things at once! I don't even know how much money I want to spend on an apartment, since for a super nice place I could pay something like 400 US dollars a month...but who needs two bedrooms, a bar, and four balconies? Okay, yes, I'll admit, that last part would be nice.


Poems are en route, should you be interested!


Ben said...

Extra bedroom? Perfect for couchsurfers (formal and unofficial)!

Then again, every dollar saved is a dollar you can spend on OTHER kinds of extravagance.

alex said...

The likelihood of my visiting you in Taiwan may or may not be directly correlated to the number of balconies in your apartment.

... Not really. Let's skype!