Since coming to Taiwan in 2008, I’ve studied, worked, studied, and mostly studied. However, there was some work that I did do, and in three completely different fields.

As the adage goes, “it has nothing to do with my degree!” It’s true, and I won’t argue or go into that, but it is assuredly less of what you study and more of who you are.

Of the three jobs I did have, however, only two were of more value to me, with the latter being the most interesting and valuable (as well as the one I am going to talk about in this entry). Of course I taught English, as will happen–but it is not a path you want to go on, don’t go there (depending on your goals, and of course, money is a stronger determiner in how things go for you). The latter job was your typical Taiwanese office job 9am-7:30pm kind of gig, I did some advertising work as well as translation and typical “We have a foreigner working here, BY GOD MAKE USE OF HIM” kind of work. I was the only foreigner there, so having an entirely Taiwanese coworker base was nice, and few spoke English, so it was good listening practice: business meetings in Chinese, as well as having to describe my own work and projects in Chinese to the rest of the staff–yeah, it was a blast.

Anyway, that was business. Recently, though, I got to do a job–pro bono–and it was a rare opportunity to work with a really local Taiwanese company that does road work.

I don’t know if it’s my New Jersey background, or The Boss ringing in my ears, but I always thought it would be kind of fun to try doing some road work or road construction. Plus, I like the idea of being outside and doing work, it kind of gets very tiring sitting inside and staring at a computer screen going through SRS stats. Ouch. My skin, she never looked paler!

Anyway, I got the chance to head off to outside of Taipei(臺北市)to Hsinchu(新竹市), about an hour out of the city. We did work all over the place, including painting lines on the road in the Xiangshan area of Hsinchu(新竹市香山區):

The road to be painted.

This is a big part of the reason that I did so miserable on Tadoku this round. I was mostly outside being immersed in different ways, though I did find the occasion to read:

The cutest way to write 電梯 (elevator) I’ve ever seen.

Along with painting lines on the road–you know, typical road painting type stuff–we also got to paint characters. This is was probably the most fascinating part to me. I thought they used stencils, and I assume some do, but generally it seems they just paint the characters out completely:

我要寫一個「慢」字!

And continue in, stroke after stroke, until the character is nearly completed:

And they said stroke order doesn’t matter!

All in all it was an extremely rewarding experience, something I doubt I will get the chance to go again. While it was only a few short days, I picked up a lot of new vocab, as well as getting the chance to really improve my listening. Not even that, but I got a wicked tan from being in the sun all day, so handsome +1?

Time to pack up and go home and take an incredibly painful shower.

The other nice experience was being out in the countryside. Being in the city all the time gets a little tiring, plus people are less likely to just sit and chat with you since they’re in a hurry all the time, or it’s just way too busy. But, where I got to go for this work was out in the countryside, many places where foreigners would never go, and doing a job they’d never expect to see a foreigner doing. This led to a lot of people beeping the horn, waving, and smiling as they drove by; others offering Supau and other drinks since it was hot outside; and just getting the chance to chat with people made the entire experience very much worthwhile.

Of course the incredibly delicious food helped too.

So it was well worth it. Now I’ve got to get myself back into study mode as the next semester is about to come around.

And with Tadoku, just wait until the next round 😉