Monday, August 30, 2010

Taiwan, week one

Some miscellaneous thoughts on my first week in Taiwan.

I have done no physics or serious thinking, other than while lying in bed :-( Instead, I've been busy with mundane things like:

visiting Carrefour several times
visiting Costco twice
visiting IKEA

registering for cellphone service

getting the kids started at kindergarten

getting an ID card

getting a $3 ($100 NT) haircut -- nobody is cheaper than me :-)

catching a stomach bug ...

Most of these things were accomplished with two kids in tow, which makes the degree of difficulty significantly higher :-)

We are living on the Academia Sinica campus (flickr photos; the photo up top is of the languages and literature building), within a short walk of the gym (olympic size pool!), the kindergarten, libraries and our offices. The weather here is hot and humid at the moment (the climate is technically "subtropical monsoon"), so even a short walk in the middle of the day leaves me sweaty. It will be a tough adjustment from the mild conditions in Eugene, although I must say the vegetation here has a lush beauty which is very different from Oregon.

Our apartment is quite small compared to the 4000 square feet we occupy in Eugene. So far the kids seem not to mind -- they have been very adaptable throughout this trip. Anyone who wants to live green should try urban Asia -- the per capita carbon and energy footprint here is a fraction of that in the US -- but most Americans would have a hard time with the sacrifices.

A major motivation for choosing to come here for sabbatical was to enhance our kids' language abilities. They are fairly bilingual already, but I don't have a good feel for exactly how much Mandarin they really understand (although they do already make fun of my pronunciation :-). Their kindergarten is conducted entirely in Mandarin, and so far they are getting along just fine.

Kids eating at the cafeteria.

Lego creations.


Ehoffma1 said...

I am curious about what sacrifices (or at least those affecting carbon and energy footprint) Americans would have a to make when moving to the Academia Sinica campus. I assume you are mostly considering housing inefficiencies that are reduced by smaller living quarters, smaller refrigerators, no air conditioning, etc. Transport is not a sacrifice as long as the public transport is adequate, and I assume public transport is more than adequate in Taiwan. Have I missed something obvious?

steve hsu said...

You pretty much covered it. They do have air conditioning here (couldn't survive without it, although when I was last at Kyoto University in the late 90s the physics building was not air conditioned!) but they do each room individually and turn it off when no one is around. It's similar wrt heating in the colder parts of China -- they don't heat the hallways, and people wear jackets in the office.

John said...

Thanks for the post. They are cute kids.


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