An extremely long day

Unbelievably, I’ve already been here almost two months, meaning the sixty days the Republic of China gave me on my visa is nearly expired. That calls for a trip to the Taipei County Immigration Agency. Yay!

Tuesday morning I left a few hours early to have a DMV-like experience at the Immigration Agency. Take a number, find your form, wait, wait, wait, get your passport stamped by an uninterested man who has been stamping foreign passports for years. The stamp only gives me another 30 days here, as it’s based on my school schedule and our quarter will wrap up in about three weeks.

The hours-long errand left me no time for lunch and made me about 20 minutes late to class. Guess which part I was more upset about.

After class I had a meeting scheduled with the China Post regarding my possible internship there. Since this was clearly not going to be a paid gig, I’d been continuing to check the different online classifieds serving English-speakers in Taiwan. Normally there’s not much there besides teaching gigs, for which I lack both the motivation and experience to pursue.

Then late last week, an English editor job was posted. Finally! I sent my resume and cover letter, and they replied the next day with an application test. It was literally a test, like one takes in middle school, because this company provides English-language testing material to junior high and high schools around Taiwan. They gave me a sample question, and I had to come up with a similar one for a different vocabulary word or English idiom. There were seven pages of a variety of questions, including an area for me to write an informational paragraph about anything I wanted (their example was about the negative side effects of chemotherapy, so of course I wrote about how dinosaurs probably tasted like chicken ((principle of parsimony for the win!)).  That all happened on Thursday/Friday/Saturday, and then it was serious anticipation while I waited to hear how I did (which I’m now going to allow you to experience).

Back at the China Post, Roger met me and explained that they thought I had potential, but not enough to go through the trouble of hiring me as an employee. Perfectly understandable, I said. It’s a really complicated, expensive process to get a foreigner a work permit here, and I had a pretty major error in one of the re-writes I did for them weeks ago. I wouldn’t go through the trouble for me either. But I was there to hash out the details of an unpaid internship—will work for literally nothing! What’s the problem? “Well,” Roger said, “I’ll have to check with HR to see if we can call you an intern… You might have to be a volunteer.” Fine! You can call me Newbie or Red or Banana, I just want to have something on my resume for the year I’m here. And I can start tomorrow if you need. He said I could expect a phone call from Hilton, the copy editor in charge of scheduling soon, maybe even that night.

All of that took about 15 minutes to get sorted, so I had almost an hour to sit in the MRT station and read The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (I just finished today and cried through the whole last chapter. Seriously, pick it up, she’s a fantastic writer.) while waiting for Colin. We then met Colin’s friend’s family friend Kyle (with whom we had dinner at the wedding-themed restaurant) and her friend Lali (who we’d met once before at Kyle’s birthday party several weeks ago). The four of us were going to a Mediterranean restaurant they frequent—new food! The place was situated in a maze of similarly small Western eateries—we passed a pizza place that I definitely hope to go back to.

Lali advised getting the larger plates, as the falafels were rather small. I opted for the Labneh Bandura, a yogurt cheese and Arabian salsa pita plate that was quite good but left me hungry. So when Lali mentioned a shaved iced place nearby, I was all for it.

These are the heaps of shaved ice I’ve wanted to try since I first saw them. Strawberries and mango were piled onto the heap, condensed milk was drizzled, and warm balls of mochi (glutinous rice paste—yum-O) covered the whole thing. Delicious. I want one right now. We split our heap three ways—Kyle was full—and it was the perfect topper to the night, though I did experience a sensation of mochi balls sloshing around in the melted ice-condensed milk mixture in my belly on the walk home.

Back at home I had a few surprises: Two emails, one informing me I’d been chosen to be the model for the catalog of a local sporting goods store, and the other saying I’d got the English editor job. I didn’t have time to finish my happy dance before my phone rang with Hilton from the China Post on the line. Yeah, when it rains, it pours.

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