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Well, it’s all done.

This morning I signed my contract with Kojen Corporation to become their newest ESP teacher, yes, that’s right, I’m an ESPer! And I know what you’re thinking (ha ha), what the heck does ESP stand for? English for Specific Purposes, or in this case for office workers and other government and corporate employees.

The contract requires that I be available Monday-Saturday, Mornings to Evenings and work at least 18 hours a week, although I’m told the person whose hours I’m probably getting is working around 25 hours/week right now. For those hours, I get paid roughly double what the locals are getting, so realistically I’m getting the equivalent of full-time pay for a working half the time at a job where I have no office hours and don’t have to even report to the office except to check-in once or twice a week. Plus, I get up to a month of vacation time any time I want it, and can even take it in pieces, and that doesn’t include my sick leave.

Now the bad news, I can’t use any of that vacation time during July or August, since they are holiday months and it seems everyone wants to learn English then. I am also obligated to work 30 hours a week during those months, but I’m told I will be assigned temporarily to a school where the clients will come to my air-conditioned self for most of those extra hours.

On the apartment front, I just accepted a recently (5 months ago) renovated apartment, fully furnished, with free TV, fridge, air conditioning, utilities, ADSL high-speed internet and washer and dryer which I’m getting at a steal of a price. (Roughly 1/4 my monthly salary, which is good for Taipei.) It’s next to a major mall/movie theatre complex and one bus stop away in either direction from major shopping and eating areas. The catches? Well, there’s no kitchen, so I will have to eat out a lot (which is normal here, buying and making food and eating out cost almost the same) or use Connie’s family kitchen to prepare things. The other catch is that the place is about the size of a University residence room, which for those who know me means it’s the size of my bedroom back in London, a residence room in Saugeen Hall at UWO, or your typical single bedroom. I figure I will hardly be there, and the area is filled with coffee shops and parks, so I should be able to keep from going stir-crazy. But, if I do, you’ll probably know pretty quick.

I’m taking over another person’s lease, so instead of a year, I just have a 5 month lease, so if it’s not working out I can always find another place. I will admit I am a tiny bit hesitant because of the size of the place, but it won’t be the first time I lived in a residence room type place. We’ll see how it goes.

So, that’s it then. Rob is now a resident of Taipei, employed and housed. I will pass along my address and phone numbers (residence and cell) when I have them. I start teaching my first class next Thursday at noon, and I’m looking forward to it.

Oh, and in other news this is a holiday weekend here, a nice 3 day weekend. I guess I will be spending it moving in and setting up, so many little things to buy and I’ll have to see what the girl before me left behind. She wasn’t a neat freak, but it looks like she was pretty clean.


Cross-Cultural Miscommunications

(This was written offline about 2 weeks ago….)

Cross-Cultural Miscommunications

Today as I was riding in a taxi through the city streets of Taipei I was reminded of a commercial from Denmark I once saw. In the commercial, which I saw a few times on the internet since it was so funny, a happy Danish family gets in their car for a trip and the after they’ve belted themselves in the father turns on the radio. From the radio comes a catchy rock-pop song and the family smiles, laughs and begins bopping to the beat as they begin their family trip. Now, the catch is that the pop song (which indeed was a nice catchy tune) consisted of the lyrics “I’m going to f*** you in the a**” repeated over and over again. As they drive off, the logo for an English school comes on the screen. A really funny ad, although it does occur to me that since the commercial isn’t subtitled in Danish real Danes watching the commercial who don’t know those choice words aren’t going to get the joke of the commercial.

So back to Rob in Taipei.

The current Mandarin pop song playing on the radio ends and another song starts, this one a hardcore urban dance number from the US entitled “Shake that A**” and including pretty much every choice swear word and combination of swear words on the list and some seriously sexual lyrics. Neither my girlfriend’s mother (sitting next to me) or my middle aged cabbie blink, and I think to myself “this would never get airplay in the US, what is it doing on general audience radio here in Taipei?”

A similar thing happened two weeks ago when I first got here and began channel surfing on the local cable package they have in the house. Once I hit the English movie networks all bets were off regarding language and content, I watched Kill Bill Vol.1 uncut and uncensored on one of the movie networks last weekend, and the content issues aside (violent swordplay is standard prime time TV fare here, so that isn’t a problem) the language used in the movie stuck out like a sore thumb.

I asked Connie if the language in Taiwanese shows were uncensored too, and her reply was that they were actually quite censored. They’re not letting any colorful local language on the air at all, but like the Danish family in the ad the Taiwanese are being allowed to hear some of the nastiest parts of the English language at any day or time. (With the subtitles presumably downplaying the terms being used.) In a country where they teach English as a standard course in school, and it’s well on it’s way to becoming the third (fourth?) language of Taiwan, they might consider watching what the kids are hearing because while the parents don’t understand it, the current generation of kids probably will.

Then again, I speak Japanese like an anime character or superhero, so who am I to complain about learning the wrong parts of the language….