When I was thinking about something interesting to write about, I first thought of writing more in-depth on my classes and what they are like, but I’ll spare you that for now and talk about something that kind of dawned on me today as I was taking the MRT (subway) into school: real life experiences. I know that’s kind of obvious, but you would be surprised how difficult it can be to find those in a city that has such a positive response to foreigners living here. Often times English is spoken to me despite the fact that I speak to them in Chinese. To them it’s being polite; to me it’s frustrating because I want to practice my speaking and listening. In the past week however, I have been fortunate to have a couple of good real life experiences.
It all started last week when I was in my one-on-one class attempting to describe my new apartment to my teacher. When attempting to explain the fact that my living room has a floor to ceiling windows that look onto our balcony that overlooks the city with a huge built in flowerbed on the side of the balcony for privacy. I had absolutely no way of accurately saying this because I hadn’t ever had to say “balcony” or anything like that.
A few days later I was at my apartment working out in the living room – because it is just too hot no matter what time of day to workout outside – when the intercom for the front gate starts buzzing. I answer it in Chinese and ask who it was. Instantly a loud, seemingly upset Chinese woman starts yelling about water. It was so difficult to understand through the old intercom system that I buzzed her into the complex and met her on the stairs. She quickly introduced herself to me as my neighbor (glad I had just learned the Taiwanese way of saying neighbor “鄰居”) and then immediately started pointing out at my balcony saying “Flood! Flood!” (“洪水！洪水！”) Seeing as I’m a foreigner and only know that it’s nearing the end of typhoon season, I look to the street and expect to a see a wall of water coming to me. I thought to myself, “Well it’s like the movie The Day After Tomorrow, but without the snow.” I was half prepared to grab my swimming trunks and make a run for the top of the hill. Turns out I’m just a silly foreigner who mistook the word she used for flood as the word for a flood disaster,“水災”.
I finally understand that she is saying our flowerbed is flooding on our balcony and that there is so much water that it’s leaking down into her apartment below us. I rush out to the balcony (I hadn’t been out there since the day before) to find out that my roommate must have left the hose on after he watered the plants. When he left the hose on all of the pressure built up at the nozzle and the hose had busted off allowing the water to flow freely for probably several hours (that will be fun water bill to pay). I immediately ran over and turned it off. She came onto the balcony and told me she often takes care of the plants when the other roommates are gone so she helped me funnel the water into the correct drains and hopefully avoid any severe damage to her home.
After we cleaned everything up, I thanked her profusely and she invited me to come have tea with her and her husband. I went to her house about 30 minutes later and sat and drank tea for almost an hour while we sat and talked completely in Chinese about what they do, what I do, and even politics and economics.
It was by far the best every day life experience I have had in Taiwan and possibly the best in all of my travels to Asia. I hope I get to have more experiences like that just without the possibility of heavy water damage and high utility bill. Each day is a new experience here and I can’t wait to see what else I’ll get to enjoy!