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Archive for November, 2006

A fellow Taiwan blogger, Todd, has just finished his first semester at Shida and written about his experiences. With about 5,000 foreign students, Shida is the biggest Chinese language program in Taiwan. From what Todd has written, the school now uses standardized tests across all the classes, unlike when I was there two years ago. Most things, though, are exactly like they were before. The instruction sounds to be very mediocre, and the teachers are still rabidly pro-blue:

My instructor also spent far too much time sidetracking the class into off topic discussions conducted in English. Each morning the newspaper had a picture of President Chen Shui-bian on the front page she would remind us how much she hated him and his family. Just about everyday she would also mention how handsome she thinks Ma Ying-jiu is. She also went so far as to blame the high number of unmarried women in Taiwan on her theory that they are all waiting for a man like Ma Ying-jiu… “But unfortunately there is only one Mayor Ma.”

The Daily Bubble Tea: Studying Chinese

Still, I’m sure my Chinese would be much worse than it is if I hadn’t gone to Shida. It would also be better still if I’d stayed there a couple more semesters. For those who don’t have the money or time to go to ICLP, and don’t want to go to the mainland, Zhengda and Shida are probably the best options.

Related Post: Teaching Chinese or Nationalism?

Last night, after learning that my favorite department store offers photos, I went in to have my ARC pictures taken. It must be the seventh or eighth time I’ve done so, and before it’s always been about the same. I sit down, some guy takes my picture, I come back an hour later and that’s that. This time was different. The guy spent literally 40 minutes mercilessly photoshopping my image. He lowered my right shoulder, he made the scar on my forehead disappear, he smoothed out the appearance of my stubble, he lightened my eyebrows from black to a slightly reddish brown, and he even made me 5 shades whiter. I really wish I had the original, but here’s the result.

photoshoppedphotoshopped Hosted on Zooomr

There’s something he did that made my eyes look glassy, too.

Have you ever wanted to know how to order food at Subway in Chinese? If so, then read on!
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When John recently designed a “please speak Chinese” T-shirt, I was immediately tempted to buy one. I always love it when locals talk to me in Chinese, instead of trying to use English first.


Putting this on a shirt worn by a foreigner is cool on multiple levels. Not only does it demonstrate that the foreigner can speak Chinese, but it is also a play on a PRC campaign that used the exact same line to encourage the Chinese to use Mandarin as opposed to Cantonese or any other local dialects. The only problem is that the shirt would be weird to wear in Taiwan. Nobody here uses the phrase 普通话, or even simplified characters for that matter.

As usual, John had a great idea that was in serious need of some Taiwan-ification. That’s where TC came in. He reminded me that there’s a completely analogous phrase that was plastered all over Taiwan for decades. It was even used for the same reason- getting Taiwanese people to speak in Mandarin instead of the Minnan, or “Taiwanese” dialect.


I decided on the spot that it was time to design a Speak Mandarin shirt that can be worn with pride on either side of the strait. And in TC’s honor, I made one more shirt fitting for a foreigner who actually became Taiwanese.
(Readers have pointed out that former president Lǐ Dēnghuī introduced this phrase 新台灣人. Later, Mǎ Yīngjiǔ, a Hong Kong man by birth, gained popularity in proclaiming himself to be “New Taiwanese”.)


New Taiwanese Person
Speak Mandarin

You can see a full list of my designs at the newly created Toshuo Shop.

Oh, there’s been quite a bit to write about on the landlady front recently! If only I hadn’t been so busy this week, I’d have written earlier. For those of you who don’t know about the old Chinese lady who’s both my landlady and my flatmate, read I Live With a Batty Old Lady. Here’s a re-cap of the last couple of weeks:
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In the past all of the email I’ve gotten from Chinese people regarding my blog has been extremely positive, but last night, I received the first critical one.

I am not understand why you like writing the chinese character speech. Is very not colloquial, stiff, foreigner translate to the chinese from the english not seeming to make the real feeling. At the time which I was you, I wasn’t using the chinese character writing for such expressions. In the reading tedious and painful to find such unnatural speakings. Better letting girlfriend or wife or boyfriend to write such.


If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
-James Madison


This week at school has been far, far too busy. I did get one thing done, though. I finally figured out how to make WordPress generate both a static home page, and a page with my recent blog posts. I had one more condition that made this task surprisingly difficult- I didn’t want to put my blog into a subdirectory, or add anything to my URL hierarchy.
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The most amazing part is that the restaurant advertises the fact that it’s dog meat. C’mon, check out foodtube’s live journal. You know you’re curious.
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Back when I lived in Guīshān, I used to go to McDonald’s fairly often. Barring convenience stores, it was the only place close enough and quick enough that I could get dinner between classes. Thankfully, in Táibĕi, there are many many more options. Right after moving back here, I made it a point to avoid the place. I usually go to Subway now, but there are also quite a few local fast food places within a two minute walk. When I finally did go back to McDonald’s, I was poorly prepared for the scene that awaited me: continue reading…