Tag Archives: foreigners

Ice Skating !

5 Dec

Ice skating bound

Ice skating is wonderful! I remember enjoying it in junior high, but I also enjoyed trying to get people to spell my name with two “ee”s instead of a y at the end. “Doesn’t ‘Emilee’ just look so much better?” I’d encourage, but they were always incredulous… or just annoyed. I had researched it though. I walked around with a chart, tallying up which spelling people liked the most, second most, and which one they definitely didn’t like out of Emilie, Emili, Emelie, etc. Wow, that’s embarrassing to admit, but it’s very true.

Anyway, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this ice skating party, but I was optimistic since I usually like sports, especially when combined with music and beer. Which this was. DJs all night and a bar ON the ice. In other words a recipe for fun in Carrie and Emily’s book. This “book” really does exist by the way. Carrie has a notebook now, a new one. The very tiny ones still come in handy for taking notes, but we realized she needs a larger, but still ultra portable, one for writing down things she observes, especially since she doesn’t have a camera. I take enough pictures for the both of us in a sense, but she does a lot of people watching on her two hour lunch break in a very interesting part of town. She’d like to have our first year here documented through her eyes more. She’s writing and drawing pictures in the book now. So we’ve started saying, “Put it in the book!” when we see something funny. To contrast her two hour break with mine, I sit in the basement of my school and read a literature textbook and then fall asleep. Not exactly worthy for “the book”.

Okay, so back to the ice skating last night. Turns out I’m still a decent skater. The only time I even touched the ice was when I was holding hands with this guy from New York, helping him skate. He hadn’t been skating much (this was later in the night when he was fully aware of his propensity to fall I guess), but the rest of us wanted to get back out there. Not wanting to leave him alone and wanting to help him, off we went. I held him steady, but he’s not a small guy, so I couldn’t really prevent a fall. When it happened, I had to put my hand on the ice. It was cold. End of story. Oh, and by the way it seemed like most of the people there couldn’t really skate: white people, Massachusetts people, Michigan people, but especially French people and Taiwanese girlfriend people. I’m not sure why Carrie, Gretchen, and I were relatively good at it. We’re all from Austin. Met another guy who went to college in Austin, grew up in Dallas, and he skated well too. Do Texans do more ice skating? Is it our deprivation of sledding that sends us rink bound? This would make a good PhD thesis, Danea.

The best part was when these really good skaters started chains. You know like when that one song about a bunny or something comes on at a reception, and everyone gets in a dancing line? It was AMAZING. An exhilarating work out. Sometimes my arms felt like they were getting ripped apart when the front of the line started to speed up all of a sudden and the back of the line wasn’t ready yet, but it was well worth it. The leaders skated fast, made tight turns, and in the corners of the ring, they’d stop and make a bridge with their arms, having the rest of the line skate under them. Then someone would fall and the line would have to break up and reconvene at a later date, after the casualty got another beer.

Then when those kind of shenanigans were dying down, Carrie and I made up a little synchronized routine to do when we skated side by side.

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Revolver Night of Fun

22 Sep

Neither Carrie nor I could find an outfit we were really proud of for our debut into what we hoped would be a sweet niche of fun people. “This is the best I can do,” I announced as I entered Carrie’s room.

With a dramatic snap of her suspenders, Carrie said, “This is the best I can do.” After trying on a couple of my shirts and finding them too short or clashing with purple dyed jeans, I guess she had resigned to wearing a plain gray tank top. She’s still kicking herself for having the less is more mentality when packing in June. We shrugged and put on our helmets.

We rode down Heping Street, arriving at the bar Revolver sometime after midnight. I had a flippant curiosity. Wednesdays, when girls get two free drinks, was the only night we’d been here before. Those visits were pretty tame, but we also weren’t really in the mindset to meet a bunch of new people. This time we were. There was a $300 cover ($10 USD) which included one drink. We took them upstairs and saw that it was no longer just an empty room. There was a DJ playing drum and bass music while half of the crowd stood around casually while the other half danced. The room was small and comfortably crowded. We started dancing right away, having been deprived and all. Carrie was especially thrilled that it wasn’t Lady Gaga remix for once, which is the kind of music we have to succumb to at the clubs. After about 10 minutes, my coworker spotted me and came over. We couldn’t really talk because of the volume of the music, but it was nice to see a familiar face. I am glad to get to know him outside of work too. He introduced me to his girlfriend, and I could tell they are a fun, dancing, energetic couple.

When standing in line for the bathroom, we began talking to a guy and his visiting friends from Orange County. “Carrie’s roommate is from there,” I pointed out. I thought this connection was just grand. I shamelessly asked for his number. Desperation plus beer means less pride. I’m really not sure if I’d call him because I don’t know what I’d even say except, “Remember those girls that you talked to about nothing important while we waited to use the restroom at Revolver?” Ehhh…

We eventually went downstairs to get another beer. This ended up being my last beer of the night, and we were there until 5:15 am! I stayed in the bar area for 45 minutes or so talking to Julio. I really wanted Julio’s number, but I forgot to get it. He is from Guatemala and said he would help me learn Spanish. I lamented how I had nothing to teach him. We talked about how safe it is here and how honest everyone is compared to Guatemala City or the U.S. I laughed about how I had brought so many things with me designed to keep my belongings safe from thieves. “Like what?” he asked.

“A lock for my backpack, one of those slim little bags that hold your money and passport under your clothes, a specially designed backpack that is hard to unzip, stuff like that.” He’s been here for a while, and knows even more than I do that unless I put my backpack in the middle of the street with a sign that says, “Free” (in Chinese), no one is going to touch it for weeks, unless to inspect it for a name so it can be returned.

While Carrie and I were talking to Julio, this guy tapped my arm. “Is your name Emily?” he asked. “I think we met in Austin.”

“Really! Where?”

“In that rooftop bar during South by Southwest.”

“Ohhhhh! Gene! I remember you.” I talked to him about Taiwan. In Austin, he had told me he’s from Taipei, and he recommended I live there out of all the other cities in Taiwan. “Look, I really made it!” I said, pointing out the obvious.

“Yeah, I see, good job.” He works for National Instruments in Texas and was on a business trip here in Taiwan. He introduced his two friends, Victor and Viktur (pronounced the same), and said that they live here, so I can be friends with them. Sweet!

While I was still talking to Gene, Carrie’s friend Gretchen saw her and came up to us. We hung out with her a month ago after Carrie got her contact info from an Austin friend. We thought she and her boyfriend were really fun, but we hadn’t seen her again since the one time. We ended up on the third floor talking with her, the other people we know, and some new people.

Then I saw this guy I had been dancing next to earlier in the night. He used to live in College Station, so I called Carrie over, “He used to live in College Station!” They went through the details of it, and he admitted that he’d been looking for a group like the one Carrie says she was friends with. By the way, if you’ve ever had a chance to go to a Barefoot Art Guild party that she and her friends threw, you know Carrie means when she refers to “The Neighborhood” She helped build a whole community of active young people trying to give College Station more culture and diversity., and those art guild parties were a great display of what they were all about. “It was our goal to reach out to people like you, sorry it didn’t happen in your case,” Carrie said. Carrie talked to him for a good while, and in the following days ended up giving this guy’s name to another friend of hers who needed a service he could provide, T-shirt making. Both of them were really thankful to Carrie for helping them meet since they were exactly who the other one was looking for.

The DJs changed a few times, and I liked them all. I couldn’t stop dancing, and it was wonderful! I was doing the kind of dancing where your body is making up new moves on its own accord, and you’re attention is focused on how great you feel instead of what you should do next with your limbs. At one point I came up beside two guys who were hunched over and pumping their fists downward to the beat of the music with their other arms around each other’s shoulders. One of the guys swung his pumping arm around me, and I joined them in their fun dance. Gretchen and her boyfriend had curled up together on the third-floor couch and fallen asleep. After writing a little note about how cute they looked and how, don’t worry, we captured it all in pictures, we tromped upstairs to leave it on them. The workers turned us away though; they were closing.

We stood outside talking to my coworker for a bit, and then we rode our bikes home while the sun began to lighten the sky. We passed some serious bikers on their way to the outskirts of the city for a morning ride. I rang my bike bell as we came up behind them. Not sure why, just sorta wanted them to notice how different but similar we all were, them with their spandex suits and us with our dancing grins.

Staring at Foreigners & Boyfriend Behavior

30 Aug

I just reread my last post and feel that a certain part needs further explanation. When I said Johnathan went to 711 in his pajamas, I mean small boxers that are clearly not to be worn in public. And, when I say the people in 711 probably thought we were weird, I mean that they DEFINITELY thought we were weird. I know this because they giggled a lot and pointed. When dealing with foreigners, certain people will giggle a lot; this happened more than ever that night we were buying more eggs.

I’m not sure how thoroughly I covered the topic of the Taiwanese people’s reactions to foreigners, so I will now:

They do not stare in the true sense of the word. I have come across some staring types in Taiwan, and they fall into these categories: young children below the age of seven, people who don’t realize that you can see them looking at you, that one bus driver who turned around four times to stare at my shoes for long intervals at the red lights, and old people above the age of wrinkles. It takes Asians a long time to get wrinkles, but I’m not confident in guessing the age at which it happens. It’s deceiving because you expect people of that age to be more dependent, but here they can ride the public transit and get around on their own for a long time, plus health care is and has been affordable, so they are healthy.

Though I am usually not stared at outright, it is clear that people around me are often preoccupied with casting furtive glances my way. Sometimes it’s disconcerting because I might not be feeling my best that day, and I’ll start to wonder if they are staring at my greasy hair or mismatched outfit. But, I really think they are just thinking something along these lines, “A white person, cool! I wonder how old she is. Wow, her noise is so pointy, I think I’m lighter skinned than she is. Yippee! Oh, her hair is so interesting. I wish I knew English (or I hope she talks to me so I can speak in English).” Knowing English is something held in very high esteem. As I explained before, almost everyone was taught English when attending public school, but it is very difficult and few people master it especially the ability to speak it. When people see David speaking to me in English, they look at him with awe. We both pretend not to notice, but it really does change things when you feel a bit like you’re on stage everywhere you go.

Couples here definitely hold hands, and once in a while you’ll see them hugging in a very sweet way, but I’ve only noticed kissing one time and it was a young high school pair on an escalator. Guys here are extremely attentive to their girlfriends. It’s been described to me that the Taiwanese males are very standoffish and unhelpful except to their girlfriends. I see it as them not thinking it’s their place to help a girl who is not “theirs”, but once given the in, he notices when she needs help even before she does. This fits with my experiences with strangers. It is usually a lady who will help or an older male. A young or middle aged male will never approach Carrie or I even if it looks like we need help.

Let me give you some examples of boyfriend behavior. He’ll hold a girls purse at the slightest hint that his girlfriend needs help, even if the purse is pink with lace. A boyfriend will always make sure to walk on the street side, and if some vehicle or person is a potential threat, he makes her stop. He will feed her bites of food, notice that she needs something like a napkin, change his plans for her and not complain, remember that she needs to run an errand or something even if it has nothing to do with him. He will never yell at her or raise his voice, and in fact you never see couples quarrel. You sometimes notice intimate conversations on the sides of the sidewalks late at night. They will stand very close together and speak in serious tones, though I can, obviously, not tell what they are saying or if they are even arguing.

Do you think you would like or dislike your boyfriend to treat you this way? I think it’s very sweet, and causes me to try to be more thoughtful of others in return. In Texas, nice things are done for others all the time, but there is less focus on the small things. Maybe that is the difference.