[A TalkEasy tour from last year]
A little over a year ago we managed to finally find a place suitable for a school which passed the stringent fire regulations that every other building had failed. After a month of so of scrubbing and sanding we were ready to launch the brand “TalkEasy” and within the first week got enough students to cover all our running costs and pay each of us a modest wage. We always kept wages low knowing that the most important thing was to make sure our costs were covered first, but with rent being so low, and the only commodity being our own teaching, our monthly expenses were relatively little. Trying to open a school in England would have been a no go (for one thing, no one goes to cram school in England) and secondly, the initial investment and subsequent insurance costs would have been too high without investors.
We opened in February of last year and have done almost a full year of proper teaching, but now the times they are a-changin’.
Fiona’s mum battled with ALS (a form of motor neurone disease) and sadly passed away in November of 2012 after an extremely rapid progression. During Chinese New Year of 2012 she had only a slight weakness in her hand and as the year progressed, so did her illness. Charlotte Lemaigre, our best friend back home is honouring Mei this year by raising money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association by doing a full on marathon. You can donate here.
After such a terrible year, it was time for a change. Laurie took on weekend work for the British Council in Taipei. He put himself up for a new job opportunity and successfully got the job and starts in the next few days as a full-time employee of the British council in Taipei.
Fiona put her details up on a job website and went for an interview in Taipei and was given the job of “Head of European Sales” for a high-tech environmental technology firm. She starts at the end of February.
As for me, I applied for a Chinese language course at a good university in Taipei and am starting my first semester in early March. In order for me to work in Taiwan and not be an English teacher this is the path that I must take. My chinese level has declined in recent weeks because of so many other things, and the knowledge that I will soon be studying it 24/7 has also made me relaxed and lazy. I must change this attitude because I have an aptitude test late february which determines the class I am in.
I must fly to Hong Kong after Chinese New Year for a few days to re-enter the county on a new visa, so I get the chance to see Doris’ family once again, although I hear they’ve just bought two Rottweilers so I’m not looking forward to sleeping in the living room with them.
We found a buyer for TalkEasy and were delighted to see that she was willing to keep on with the brand and continue it as an English school. It would have been a shame to dismantle the tables that we hand-crafted from bits of wood. What this means is that rather than giving the premisses back to the landlord and paying for the remaining year of rent, we can can keep our profits and make money from the sale. It’s a good feeling having created a business and then selling it, like seeing your child go off to University perhaps.
Early next month me and Fiona will be heading off to the family house in the Kaohsiung-area countryside (Qishan map) to enjoy a week of Chinese New Year. After this, we will move into our new apartment in Beitou (north Taipei) and Fiona will start her new job.
Here is a rather shaky from Fiona’s old camera (expect high quality 1080p in the near future)
The rent is only 8000NT per month (£172!) and we have our own private bathroom, bedroom, and a shared kitchen, sitting room, utilities room, and an outdoor BBQ area/patio.
I will have a few weeks before class starts so have plenty of time to settle in an explore the area. Expect many videos, pictures and blog posts of our time spent in Taipei. Perhaps this blog should soon be called scribbles in the concrete jungle, (not very catchy).