The one with the new faces

The new semester is about to start. Finally I’m back to student life: getting up early, sitting in classes taking notes, working on group projects, and studying for exams. So many fun things that I can look forward too. Only problem so far: the class registration. Every semester the server collapses under the stream of students who want to add as many courses as possible within the first few minutes. This year the university changed that, kind of. They gave each department and each year a time slot when to register for classes. The problem here is that I was registered as a first year even though I’m not takin any first year course. Every class I was interested in was already full. Good thing we’re in Taiwan, there’s an easy fix for that: the department office can still register us for any class we want, as long as it’s within our department. Starting from next week my life will be ten times busier than it has been so far. No more sleeping in, basically every day I have a 9am class, sometimes I have classes from the morning till 6pm and after that I have to rush to my teaching job. That’s fine by me though, work hard now and live of the crop later. 加油!

The new semester also means that I’ll meet new people from all over the world…or at least South America and south east Asia, as people from those areas make up the majority of my peers in the Energy department. I’m happily looking forward to new adventures and experiences in the upcoming few month. Also I’m very excited to go back to Germany in the summer! The date isn’t fixed yet but it’s 70% safe that I’ll go. 


The one about the earthquake 

It was really confusing to be woken up by a shaking bed, you have no idea what’s going on and before you can have a clear thought it’s already over. The earthquake hit Tainan around 4 o’clock on Saturday. In our apartment was no damage, nothing fell of the walls or tables, so we went back to sleep. The next morning I had a couple of messages on my phone. Friends from all over the world asked me if I was alright. I had no idea how severe the earthquake was until I had a look at the newspapers. Taiwan normally doesn’t appear in international newspapers, the only incidents were of a sad nature: the stabbing in Taipei, the pipe explosion in Kaoshiung, and the fire in the amusement park close to Taipei. I’m glad that none of my friends or there family are directly affected by the earthquake. I hope that the Taiwanese army, police, firefighter, doctors, nurses, and other helpers manage this difficult time, right as Chinese New Year begins. 



Only damage I saw close to the Tainan Station.

On a happier note: my dear friend Kelly is back from Switzerland to Taiwan during the holidays! We met twice already to catch up and it’s so amazing, we haven’t seen each other in such a long time, but it’s like someone just hit the pause button and we continue right were we left off. 



Welcome back! Enjoy the time with your family!

Today we to a small artist village that’s close to our home. I never knew! During the next week they’ll have a creative night market with small handmade goods. I’m looking forward to it opening and also to take some more pictures there.  

The one with the souvenirs

Visiting friends and family always means you’ll have to bring a small gift from the country that you’re now living in. What is Taiwan famous for? If you live there then I’d say bubble tea, inexpensive snacks, night markets, and for me: convenience stores. Somehow a special sweet dreams to represent Taiwan better than anything else: pineapple cake. Most of the time it’s dry, filled with sweetened bits of pineapple. Rarely seen anywhere else than big department stores or airports they’re not really part of daily life and apart from being a popular souvenir they don’t seam to be relevant to Taiwanese in any way. Getting a bit off topic here. So we bought pineapple cake, baby clothes, Taiwanese sausage amongst other small snacks for our Japanese friends. In return we’re probably going to bring lots of Matcha sweets (at least for ourselves, simply in love with Matcha Kit Kat). 
What can you almost always find where a lot of foreigners work? An international supermarket with imported goods from all over the world. Of course we fell into the same trap, bought German honey and two coffees. Of we go onto the Tokyo metro once more.



Next to tea,coffee, and cereal they had a decent wine selection

 After the visa trouble we’re going to meet one of Narumi’s business contacts in Roppongi. It’s a very cool area, I’ve just been there last month and posted some pictures here. I’m looking forward to a good meal; Roppongi houses some of the best restaurants, for example the one that has been made famous through Kill Bill. Apart from the food I’m also interested in a book store/gallery that I read about on japancamerahunter: IMA concept store. It exclusively sells photo books, sometimes even signed editions and displays local artists. I’m not sure if I’m going to buy anything, the visa just cost me another 120$, but it’s definitely worth a look and they offer coffee and comfortable seats too.  


This can’t be right.

Turns out that japanesecamerahunter made it sound a lot better then it is. The gallery takes up most of the space; one big room with five to six different artists on display. Some of the concepts were really nice and stuck with me, maybe I’m going to imitate them myself and post the results in a couple of weeks. The books were mostly in Japanese, sometimes with an English translation. The quality of the prints varied with each book, some of them were part of a limited edition. Anyone interested in buying book 143 of 500 with a tiny signature by the author? Yeah, I thought so. Next time in Tokyo I’ll try to find the other bookstores mentioned in the post and hopefully I’ll be able to see the hidden treasures they wrote about for myself. Main disappointment: no coffee, no seats. If your invite people to a gallery and if you want them to get interested into your photographs, either as book or large print, offer some place to rest and take in the beauty of the art! At least the business meeting went very well and my passport is ready to be picked up at 4:30 pm. 

The one without a plan

Planning is for suckers. Evidently. For my visa I won’t need my transcript of records, at least not now. They insist I’ll do my health check up again, here in Japan though. I can’t provide it later, so taking it in Tainan was a waste of money and time. I hope there won’t be any surprises when I come back tomorrow with a 150$ health check and the same documents I presented today. At least I know that it doesn’t take long at the immigration office, there was no line and a bunch of employees. The clinic seems to be pretty busy, filled with Chinese speaking patients.  


In this small alley lies the Taiwanese clinic. Right outside of Okubo station.

 Just waiting is boring so we decided to eat some inexpensive soba as you can find it on basically every corner in downtown Tokyo. It’s neither really filling not super tasty but definitely the healthier fast food that you can purchase. Another coffee later it was time to go to the clinic and get thoroughly checked. I regret that I didn’t do it earlier in Taiwan, it’s cheaper and this whole thing would’ve been over a lot sooner. Maybe planning would’ve been helpful, if I had done it right. 

In any case, this way I was able to find a clinic in which only has Taiwanese staff. For me this was quite helpful because even though I wouldn’t say I speak Chinese it’s still a lot better than my Japanese or their English. Only the doctor was able to speak proper English and we chatted a bit about the beauty of Taiwan, Germany, and Japan. We quickly concluded that all countries have their breathtaking areas and that life in each of the three is wonderful. 

I left the the clinic 45 minutes later, together with the certificate that states I’m in perfect health and condition, being no risk for the Taiwanese population.

Wish me luck for tomorrow at the immigration office. For now we’re leaving Tokyo behind, looking forward to taking Tora for a walk and eating some hot food before we have to go back to the same places as today.  


Pretzels with cinnamon, maple sirup, almonds, or salt.


Heavenly pretzels? Try Auntie Anne’s and see for yourself.


The one with applying for a Visa

Even though I wrote a blog post about applying for a resident visa in Taiwan I seem to have forgotten how it works. Right now I’m in Japan without the proper documents I need, mainly my transcript of records of my high school in English. I’ll try to apply for it anyway since I’ll be able to provide the document as soon as I’m back in Taiwan or within two weeks after that. Plan B is to apply for a visitor visa which makes me eligible to apply for a resident visa later on. That method has another flaw though: I don’t have a ticket for a flight out of Taiwan. 

Let’s find out how strict the Taiwanese representatives are here in Japan. I hope for the best. Otherwise I’ll have to take the costly Plan C: leave Taiwan another time to either Hong Kong or Tokyo, just to apply for the resident visa once I’ve collected all necessary documents. 

Against Narumi’s concern I didn’t want to get up too early to go to the office in Tokyo, but this matter kept me awake anyway so I prepared all documents on a USB-stick for printing. 

On a lighter note: I finalized the selection of vacation pictures that I want to put into a photo book. It’s such a shame that in today’s day and age we, or I, simply look at the pictures online, upload them on Instagram or Facebook and never retain any hard copies. Our trip together through Germany and to Amsterdam was so special though and I want a constant reminder of that time on our bookshelf at home. It wasn’t easy to choose from the vast amount of pictures that accumulated over roughly four weeks, but I think I managed to filter out the most memorable and beautiful shots of this holiday. 

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Take a breath and relax