It's such a joy to see the blue sky for once, as opposed to the gloomy, dreadful, rainy weather we have been having the past couple weeks. With the rain comes a slight chilliness in the air, a sign that winter here is quickly approaching. The lowest it has gotten here so far is about 16 degrees Celsius (60 degrees F). While 60 degrees wouldn't be considered cold back in the States, it definitely feels much colder here with the gusting wind and the dampness from the rain. I have been told that the coldest time here will be from January to March.
One thing I have noticed is that the local Taiwanese seem to be extremely sensitive to the cold weather, for as soon as the weather drops a few degrees, I would see everyone busting out their full winter attire: big jackets, boots, hats, scarves...Or maybe it's just an excuse for all the girls to show off their cute and fashionable boots and winter accessories. Either way, perhaps it's time I start dragging out my winter clothes and join the fun too!
The cooler temperature also means one thing: the arrival of the most anticipated, or in this case maybe the most dreaded, holiday season! I'm a huge holiday person and normally, once Thanksgiving rolls around, I begin to get into my bubbly Christmas mood that tends to last all the way til past New Year. Christmas is my all-time favorite holiday! For me, it would be a whole month of Christmas music, holiday baking, Christmas art & crafts, holiday shopping, and Christmas cards writing. However, given that this will be my very first Christmas away from home and my family, in a country where Christmas is not a highly celebrated holiday, I wonder how I will manage to cope through the entire season.
So far, it hasn't been too bad. Despite the occasional homesickness I have felt upon listening to Christmas music, I have managed to keep my spirit up and even get wrapped up in a bit of Christmas spirit as we start to plan and get ready for my school's annual Christmas show. I have been teaching the kids in my English Club a couple of Christmas songs, and have been throwing in some holiday crafts in my classes. Next will come the part of putting up the Christmas trees and going Christmas shopping. Maybe it won't be so bad spending Christmas here after all...
Asides from that, my weekend adventures continue with fun, food, and explorations of new places. For Thanksgiving, all the foreign teachers in Miaoli county decided to throw a Thanksgiving dinner together to keep us all from getting too homesick. What an elaborate, full-blown Thanksgiving meal it was! There were turkey, bread, mashed potatoes, mac-n-cheese, cranberry sauce, mashed sweet potatoes, and even pumpkin pie! Ironically, this was my first traditional Thanksgiving dinner ever. Considering that my family is Chinese, we seldom celebrate Thanksgiving the traditional American way, and most of the time resulted in us eating out at a restaurant. Who would have thought that I would be experiencing my first-ever "real" Thanksgiving meal in Taiwan!
The next day, our county director took us all to the local hot springs, Tai'an Hot Springs, where we got the spend the day pampering and indulging ourselves in the soothing hot baths, and even got to participate in some DIY chocolate making at a beautiful estate called the Schokolake. It was my first time trying out the hot springs here in Taiwan, and I must say I definitely look forward to going back for more! (not the traditional nude ones though. Yes, they do exist here.)
By the way, I will be going to the studio tomorrow to record a radio broadcasting for an English teaching program here. I am super excited to be going to a radio station for the first time. Hope all goes well!