Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wasai --- School on Sunday!!?

Before coming to Taiwan, I was teaching English at an international summer school course in England. Most of the students in my class were European, but there were also one Taiwanese girl, Amy. She was 15 years old, and so must have been in junior high school.
One day I asked the students what they liked to do in their free time; most of the students were of one mind, they hang out with friends, watch movies, play video games and sports. Amy however, told us that she didn’t get much free time because she was always at school. At first I thought that she hadn’t understood my question, “No, no,” I explained, “‘free time’, is the extra time you have after school.” “I know,” she answered, “but I go to school early in the morning and come home at about 9 o’clock, then I do my homework.” “And the weekends?” I asked her. “Yes, it’s the same.”

The other students stared at her like she was from another planet, and even I found it hard to believe. In Europe it’s just not possible for someone to spend that much time in school. Coming to Taiwan though, I realized that not only was it true, but that she wasn't particularly strange either.

On the rare occasions that I manage to get out of bed for my "daily" 6am bike ride, I see kids going off to school. At 9, or even 10 o'clock at night you can still see them coming back home. I can't help but feel sorry for them when I'm out enjoying myself on Friday night, and they're standing there at the bus-stop, waiting for their ride home. It wouldn't be so bad, except for the fact that a lot of them will be back off to school early on Saturday morning.

Submitted to Wasai Taiwan by: Andrew Crosthwaite
( the U.K. )

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