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Things I Won’t Miss About Taipei

I’ve already made my list of things that I’ll miss about Taipei after I depart–the most important of which would be the friends I’ve made. This city certainly isn’t all bad. While this city has been a decent place to live while I’ve been here, there are certainly reasons I want to get away.

Let’s get some of the small stuff out of the way first. Obviously, I could do with out the noise created by all the ill-maintained motorbikes (I welcome the day that they’re all replaced by Gogoro). Also, the awful drivers who don’t care that they create dangerous situations–at least in Vietnam the poor driving habits are more consistent.

Air pollution is another good reason to get out. Taiwan is better than some other nearby nations, but my lungs will be happy to move to cleaner air.

There’s also the weather. I can’t step outside for more than five minutes in August without bursting into flames.

There are other things I won’t miss about Taipei that would require further explanation.

Wasting Space

A common complaint around Taipei is that extremely slow walkers can take up entire sidewalks–it doesn’t matter how many people or how wide the sidewalk either. There are sidewalks in my neighborhood that can accommodate three people, but one person who walks slower than a snail will inevitably occupy the entire space and not allow anyone to pass in either direction.

Of course, the space on sidewalks is littered in many places with illegally parked motorbikes, and sometimes cars. At least it isn’t as bad as in Tainan (I didn’t take photos of the ones in Taipei).

Tainan Sidewalk

Most sidewalks looked like this, but worse in Tainan

There are also plenty of people who take up unnecessary space at libraries and cafes. There are many days I go to the National Library near my apartment to write only to find that the desks are occupied by people sleeping or who have simply left their belongings and gone for a walk.

These people will leave laptops and other electronics on the desk for hours. In any other country, their stuff would get stolen and everyone would blame the victim. There are also signs at the desks that say you shouldn’t leave your seat for more than an hour, which is still excessive.

I have taken seats at which someone has only left their belongings. When they return and say, “Excuse me, that’s my seat.” I respond with “You haven’t been here for more than two hours. It’s not your seat anymore.” I hope these people get it through their thick skulls that they shouldn’t be inconsiderate.

Taiwanese Food

While night markets can be fun and the availability of some non-Taiwanese food is plentiful around the city, overall I’m not a fan of Taiwanese cuisine. I’m sure more than a few people will chastise me for this, but it needs to be explained.

I consider most Taiwanese food as bland. More than that, it relies on gooey textures that I find repulsive (I didn’t like mochi in Japan or toppokki in Korea either). And much of the food is sweet. And people can shut up about how much they love stinky tofu–it’s a foul odor and it’s still bland tofu.

taipei street food

Nothing special from a street vendor

Don’t get me wrong, there are some good foods in Taiwan. I like beef noodle soup, three cup chicken, and xiaolongbao. However, there is little in Taiwan that I would ever crave. In almost three years, I have had ONE meal here that made me say, “Wow, that’s amazing,” and it certainly wasn’t at Din Tai Fung. The best Taiwanese meal I had was a roasted chicken restaurant in Jiaoxi–it ranked up there with the fried chicken I had in my neighborhood in Seoul.

Also, I’m fairly certain I’m the only person in Taiwan who loathes bubble tea. I don’t like sweetened tea and I certainly don’t want gelatinous globs in it.taipei night market

Before anyone starts ranting about the quality of American food with references to fast food, you can shut up too. I don’t eat fast food. I rarely eat a burger unless it’s guaranteed to be a really good one. I happen to prefer the food from every other country I’ve visited to that of Taiwan.

Company Management and Culture

Taiwan is resource rich but management poor. This doesn’t mean that everything that goes on here is of poor quality, but it does mean that there is a lot of room for improvement and the reason that improvements don’t come is because management gets in the way of progress.

Many Taiwanese companies demand loyalty from employees, but they also pay paltry wages. Managers often complain about the lack of qualified employees and why so many talented Taiwanese move abroad. They blame the government and society for their ills. They should take a look in the mirror.

I went to an interview and was told that the company has had two people in this position in the last six months. When I mentioned the salary I wanted, I was told it was far too high (the company wanted someone for about $25,000 per year). Gee, I wonder why that company couldn’t find a suitable candidate.taipei 101 xiangshan

As my friend and former coworker noted, many companies reward mediocrity while putting pressure on high performers. If you do more than the bare minimum, you will always be expected to do that without any incentives or increased salary. Meanwhile, your coworker who slacks off will be seen as a model employee because he/she does exactly what is expected despite the poor quality. This is especially true of employees who have been with a company a long time–if someone new comes along and performs better in the same job, the older employee will still be given more money and possibly a promotion.

I had another coworker who said Taiwan doesn’t attract the more repulsive expats as other East/Southeast Asian countries, but it also doesn’t attract the best qualified either. You won’t find as many entrepreneurs heading for Taiwan to start a business–they’re more likely to go to China or somewhere else.

I’m sure I’ll encounter plenty that I can complain about when I return to the US. Corporate culture isn’t much better in the US with companies attempting to pay the lowest possible salaries, but I’m sure there are companies that recognize the differences in quality.

Taipei Bar Prices

Alright, this is not something that I should complain about considering how many times I’ve gone out for drink in Manhattan. But considering the cost of living in Taipei, bars are ridiculously expensive. I understand that the cost of running a bar is high and there are a lot of taxes on alcohol (beer in particular), but the prices can be outrageous.

Redpoint TaiPA

How much did I spend on this beer?

When the median salary in Taipei is just over NT$40,000 (US$1323) per month and the minimum wage isn’t even US$5 per hour, it’s a luxury to have a drink. While I made significantly more than the median salary, I wasn’t willing to pay more than US$10 for a drink, even I was only having one or two for the evening. I can get the same quality of drinks for less in Manhattan.

Fortunately, I managed to find some bars that were less expensive–and those are the places I went to  more often.

Is it really that bad?

The positive of Taipei still outweighs the negative in these cases, though the work environment was definitely a drag on the desire to stay long term. And considering the friends I’ve made here, there’s a decent chance I’ll return to visit and see a few sights that I missed during my time here.

Returning to Stable Expat Life

Their baggage
was all in cardboard boxes. The plane was delayed,
the rumor went through the line. We shrugged,
in our hopeless overcoats. Aviation
had never seemed a very natural idea.
-John Updike, Flight to Limbo

I returned to Taipei at the end of July; the sweltering heat and humidity had yet to subside as I arrived at Taoyuan Airport to discover that my luggage hadn’t arrived.

A sign at baggage claim had my seat number listed with a different name next to it—I headed to the EVA Air customer service desk to see what the problem could be. I was informed that my only bag—the suitcase that held all my clothes, toiletries, etc. for my new life in Taiwan—had not made my connecting flight. I had a two-hour layover in San Francisco and United did not transfer my suitcase to my onward flight (never mind that I had to walk across the ENTIRE airport to change planes and I was exhausted because I couldn’t sleep on the Newark-San Francisco flight because of multiple crying children, which added to my bout of jetlag upon arrival in Taipei).Taipei-Street

EVA was kind enough to deliver my suitcase two days later—it took more than 24 hours for United to put it on a flight to Taipei. They also gave me NT$1200 (a little less than US$40) to purchase necessities (United grudgingly offered an apology and said I should request compensation from EVA for United’s failure). I was able to buy a tshirt and underwear at Uniqlo and a cheap towel, deodorant, and toothbrush at the grocery store to help me survive those two days (the towel was most important as I hadn’t showered in 30+ hours). I desperately wanted my shorts from my suitcase as the late-July heat made wearing jeans uncomfortable.

Once I had some clean clothes and a shower, I set out on my adventure to find more permanent accommodations. I knew in desperation I could head back to my previous hostel and save a little money, but I didn’t think it’d be worth the hassle of returning (plus the bed was rather uncomfortable). I managed to find two options rather quickly through a Facebook group. I chose the larger, more expensive apartment in the more convenient neighborhood. We’ll see if I stay long term or break my lease (there’s a clause in it so I can leave early) and search for an upgrade of sorts.

View from my balcony

View from my balcony

Despite some problems with the new apartment (the landlord promised to fix/replace the hot plate a month ago and the washing machine is broken as well), I’ve been happy that it’s the quietest place I’ve been in Taipei (it’s nearly silent in the evening). I also invited a friend from my time in the previous hostel to stay in the extra room so I could save on rent. His friend and business partner even came to live on the couch for a month.

Of course, I haven’t spent that much time doing anything other than sleeping in the apartment since I started working. Not to mention my part-time tutoring to earn a little extra–as I wrote before, the life of an expat is not a permanent vacation. Most of my time has been spent adapting to life in a cubicle farm (what do you mean I have to follow a dress code!?). I realized I haven’t worked in an office in 12 years—that was my first job out of college when I was an assistant editor for a newspaper.

Taipei 101 in the distance from my balcony

Taipei 101 in the distance from my balcony

Adapting to this more stable lifestyle hasn’t been entirely easy, especially since I finished training and now have to work the afternoon-evening shift. It also seems that everyone I’ve known in this city is leaving soon—four friends have either left or are leaving in the next month (and then there are the numerous acquaintances who were only here temporarily to study Chinese–this is a temporary city for many people). I either need to start going out with my coworkers or make new friends in my limited free time.

I’ve also managed to break into the in-flight magazine industry. It’s only a small sidebar article on craft beer in Taiwan, and I have no byline because it was my interview with a beer connoisseur, but it’s still my idea and writing (though it was edited quite a bit for space). You can read it here. I plan to pitch a few more stories before the end of the year to other magazines.

The Pink Panther greeted me near my new office. I have no idea what he was selling.

The Pink Panther greeted me near my new office. I have no idea what he was selling.

Despite the usual hassles and difficulties of starting a new life abroad, it’s the decision I wanted to make. I wouldn’t have been averse to taking a job back home, but I doubt I any job in my field of expertise would pay enough for me to live comfortably. The job I have here in Taipei is a step forward career-wise and affords me the ability to live in relative comfort (although I’m foregoing some comforts in favor of rebuilding my savings for future travels and a new camera). Overall, I think this move was the best decision at this point in my life. Such a move isn’t for everyone–even I have my doubts about it every now and then despite being through it before—but somehow I’ll make it work.

Being an Expat Is Not All Travel and Sunshine

“Once upon a time I was someone then that stopped.”
Laird Hunt, The Exquisite

Let’s get something straight. Living abroad is not as exciting as most people think it is. The same goes for working from home.

Just as the phrase implies, living abroad is just that–living, just in another country. It’s not the same as living back home because it is a different country, but it involves similar concepts, which include working, eating, and living.

Working abroad is NOT a vacation

Of course, Yahoo! Travel would get this confused like most people in the US. They published another dull story titled “How to Stay on Vacation Forever – These People Did It!” I’m not even going to link to it because the headline is misleading and downright stupid. It has a brief story about a few people who went on vacation and decided to stay. How did they stay? That’s right, they got a job!

Another crowded park in China (least crowded photo I have)

Crowd at Lixiang Park in China (least crowded photo I have)

If you’re working abroad, you’re not on vacation. You’re working and earning a living.

Sure, it’s easier to travel someplace else for a long weekend while you’re working abroad (particularly if you’re in a cheaper country that pays expats well), but that can be done from the comfort of our home countries as well.

Typical night after work in Seoul

Typical night after work in Seoul

“But it’s so much more interesting to live in another country,” you say. Yes, to some extent it is. It can also be more frustrating depending on your language proficiency and understanding of the finer points of local culture. Depending on the country, it can be more difficult to make local friends–some countries are known for keeping foreign friends at a safe distance.

When I lived in China, I was not on vacation. I worked five days a week and had regular national holidays for my travels. It’s not like I could fly to Shanghai for a weekend (ok, I could have, but it would’ve been stupid and expensive for a weekend). My weekends usually involved hanging out with friends, going to a park or major grocery store, and drinking some cheap beer because there really wasn’t much to do in Shenzhen. The most exciting weekends I had were the day-trips I had to Hong Kong and Macau–they were my escape to a more developed world that had non-Chinese food for a break (and Macau had a shop that sold good coffee much cheaper than I could find in Shenzhen). My daily life revolved around working, eating what I hoped wouldn’t poison me, studying Chinese, not getting run over by cars and buses, and avoiding crowds as best I could.

Just another night in Macau

Just another night in Macau

Digital nomad abroad

When I set out on my current trip, I’ll admit it was a combination of work and vacation. Every weekend was an opportunity to see something new in a city. But I saw almost nothing during the week because I was locked away in a room, slaving away for almost 50 hours a week. That’s right, I had to work all week so that I could have some excitement on the weekend. And because I attempted to fit as much as I could into two days, I was exhausted by the time I started work again on Monday. On occasion I experienced power and internet outages, which meant I had to scramble to find a cafe that offered Wi-Fi so I could continue working.

You can't see the rest of the apartment in Tokyo because I couldn't move far enough back to get it in the frame

You can’t see the rest of the apartment in Tokyo because I couldn’t move far enough back to get it in the frame

Just because I worked from home, or wherever I chose to claim as home, does not mean I had a leisurely job. Some days I had a lot of work to do. I edited an average of 60-70 business news stories each day, sometimes more. I also did not have the luxury of taking extra-long lunch breaks–there was no one to cover for me while I stepped out to eat; I had to guess what time would be slowest so I wouldn’t return to a pile of backlogged work.

When I started the job, I worked overnight–8 pm to 6 am. That was the impetus for moving to Asia; I wanted to work during daylight hours and have the sun shine through my window. Even when I worked those hours, I had friends who thought I could take a nap or go out for a drink while working because no one would know the difference.

tiger

He was quite the active dog. This was his usual position while I worked.

That awful work schedule is part of the reason I fostered a dog for a little while. I thought he’d keep me company, but he really just slept while I worked and sniffed my face while I attempted to sleep. That dog was funny and I’m happy he was adopted.

If that job sounds like leisure time to you, maybe you should give it a try.

But, hey, I got to take a walk during my lunch break to watch the sun rise when I stayed in Italy. I also had dinner at noon and went to bed at about 3 pm. When I wanted to take a weekend out of the quiet town of Perugia, I had to alter my sleep schedule–it was difficult in the summer heat in Florence.

Working from home does not mean you spend a day in your underwear either. Studies have shown that people who work from home are more productive and effective when they act like they’re in an office (i.e., get dressed for work).

My office was somewhere in that building

My office was somewhere in that building

And what did I do after I was laid off from that job so long ago? I spent my days reading books, writing things I hope will one day get published, and searching for work. I had Skype interviews for jobs too (most of those jobs were awful and I’m glad I didn’t accept them because they would’ve led to a miserable life abroad). I had to remember some of my rules for searching for ESL jobs abroad, which can apply to other fields when searching abroad. Factoring in visa rules makes searching for work abroad more difficult.

I’m not complaining about my life abroad (aside from the lack of stable employment at the moment); I made my decision to stay because it’s what I want. The cost of living is much lower than back home–I currently live on less than $800 per month, excluding my visa runs every 90 days. I’ve also managed to make some worthwhile friends along the way to make life here a bit more comfortable and less mundane.

EFL Jobs Abroad: The Interview

“I’m not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead–ahead of myself as well as you.”
George Bernard Shaw

As I’ve re-entered the job market in Asia, I’ve looked at returning to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL); it’s a job I’ve enjoyed at times in the past despite the stress. After being away from the experience of teaching abroad, I have rediscovered the good and the bad in the job hunt. There are lessons that have stuck with me over the years, but I had forgotten about the general treatment and perception of most foreign English teachers in Asia, which is reflected in the operations of some schools and the contracts they offer. I’ve seen low pay, long hours, and absurd restrictions thrown at teachers for the “privilege” of teaching in certain places. I’ve also encountered some great operations that are, unfortunately, part time.

Peking University Graduate School across campus from where I worked in Shenzhen

Peking University Graduate School across campus from where I worked in Shenzhen

The most important thing to remember when it comes to EFL jobs is that your questions to the employer are more important than the questions being asked to you. For any interview it is important to ask a potential employer some key questions; this element is much more important for EFL positions. Schools around the world need qualified English teachers—there are more available jobs than teachers available. This means you hold the upper hand in the interview process.

Unless you’re applying for a position with an established and respected program, such as JET, Peace Corps, or other government-sponsored program, there are questions you should ask to help avoid employment shocks and possible disasters in the future.

1. How many classes will I teach each day and how long is each class?

This sounds like an obvious question with an obvious answer, but it’s not. Some job advertisements state 18 hours of teaching per week or something similar. Does this mean 18 academic hours or total hours? How many classes will fill this time? Unless it is already stated, you should ask how much you will be paid for additional classes.

A good follow-up to this question is: How much time is there between classes? This will help in the future for you to decide how to prepare your classes.

If you have to teach more than 20 classes per week, the pay should be exceptional. I was offered a job that would have required me to teach 40 classes per week for less than $15 per class in Tokyo. If you factor in lesson planning time, you’re looking at a 60-hour work week for about $25,000 per year.

2. Are office hours mandatory and, if so, how many?

Just because you’re teaching 18 hours a week does not mean you will be at the school for only 18 hours. Many schools want to monopolize your time so that you won’t have time to tutor privately for extra cash.

You should also inquire as to what your duties will be outside of the classroom. If the school offers an acceptable salary, you may not be interested in tutoring part time, which means the office hours may not matter. In some cases, you may just sit at a computer doing whatever you want during those hours.

I had to schedule at least 10 hours of available office hours when I worked at the graduate school in China (I scheduled more to make the commute easier). This was intended as time for students to come in for additional help, but they almost never came, so I had more time to plan lessons and grade assignments (and take naps on my office sofa).

The graduate library in Shenzhen

The graduate library in Shenzhen

3. Are there times when I will have to work on the weekend?

The job may claim that you will only work Monday through Friday, but that doesn’t mean they won’t alter the schedule and have you work on a Saturday or Sunday from time to time. In China, it is standard practice to “make up” classes on weekends when the classes have been canceled due to national holidays. This may create six- or even seven-day workweeks. In some countries this is unavoidable, but you should know what to expect.

4. Is housing provided or will you help me find an apartment prior to arrival?

This is a complicated question. If the school provides housing, what amenities and furnishings are included? Is housing on campus, and, if so, is there a curfew? If they help you find an apartment, how much will it cost and where will it be located? If the school doesn’t help you find an apartment, will they have temporary housing for you while you search for an apartment? Everyone should be very careful when it comes to housing in a foreign country as locals and foreigners are treated differently by landlords. The laws protecting tenants in your home country are not the same when you move abroad.

I interviewed for a program in Japan that required me to provide an address for where I’d be living, otherwise they’d have to rent an apartment to me at an inflated price (they were definitely making money off the rental).

Sometimes you get to live in a nice neighborhood

Sometimes you get to live in a nice neighborhood

5. Will you provide me with the appropriate visa and cover all expenses involved in obtaining it?

This changes depending on the country. No matter where you go, you will be required to have a legal visa. Some schools will try to have new teachers pay for the expenses—you should not. If the interviewer says, “Don’t worry, everything will be fine,” it’s a sign that you should avoid the school. They should provide specific answers to important questions pertaining to visas.

Note on China: If the school does not say it will send documents to apply for a Z visa in your home country, avoid the school at all costs. This is the only way to obtain a legal work visa/residence permit in China now.

6. What materials do you provide for classes?

This sounds like another innocent question, but it can be one of the most important. You may not know the difference between textbooks, but you want to know that materials are available for use. If classroom materials are not available, you should ask about reimbursement for purchasing your own, assuming you don’t plan to keep them at the end of your contract.

7. Do you offer any classroom training or professional development seminars?

This is not a deal breaker, but it is a useful question. For more inexperienced EFL teachers, this can be important. Having some training prior to beginning your experience as a foreign-language instructor can be greatly beneficial to you and your students. This will also provide a general idea of the school’s expectations of the foreign teachers.

Be careful with this one. I have encountered more than a few training centers in Japan that required unpaid training, even for experienced teachers.

Some schools make these park rules seem reasonable (pay attention to no. 6)

Some schools make these park rules seem reasonable (pay attention to no. 6)

8. Does the school offer language classes for teachers?

Most schools should be willing to aid new staff through culture shock. The best way to overcome the shock of a foreign country is to learn the language. Schools should not expect foreign instructors to learn a new language on their own—it’s important to have a structured class.

9. How many teachers are currently at the school and how long have they been there? 

For some EFL teachers, the number of foreign teachers matters—some people prefer to have other English speakers around, while others would rather interact with locals. Having staff that has been at the school for a while can be helpful to new EFL teachers in getting acquainted with the new surroundings. If the staff changes every year, there’s probably something wrong with the school’s management.

10. Can you provide e-mail addresses of current and/or former teachers?

If the interviewer says no, end the interview. There is no reason why they can’t find a teacher willing to speak to a potential employee. You don’t need to speak with a current or former employee, but there should be someone willing to vouch for the school.

If these questions have been answered to your satisfaction, you will have less to worry about if you are offered a position at the school. With less stress prior to arrival, you can spend more time focusing on educating your students.

You can read some of my ESL teaching articles on FluentU.

Are there any questions you’d add to the list? Any questions you wish you had asked before accepting a job?

The Onward Self

“Work is the curse of the drinking classes.”
-Oscar Wilde

I had wanted to write about my adventures here in Italy–the inspiring art of Florence, the historic streets of Assisi, the delicious gelato that keeps tempting me. Today, however, is not a day for such posts. Today is more for self-reflection in the face of adversity on the road.

Would be nice to have time to enjoy more of this

Would be nice to have time to enjoy more of this

Yesterday I awoke at 2 in the morning to start my usual shift and was greeted by a message from my boss, insisting on a phone call. This is highly unusual, but not entirely out of the ordinary. I won’t go into details, but I’m now out of work. And stuck in this little town in Italy until the end of the month, at which time I already have a flight booked back to Tokyo. This certainly isn’t the ideal situation I had been hoping to encounter while traversing the globe.

Maybe it’s appropriate that I’m reading Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.

I suppose I won’t be indulging so much in local microbrews for 4 euros. I can also cut out the temptation of all that cheese and gelato.

You mean I CAN'T eat all the gelato now?

You mean I CAN’T eat all the gelato now?

Now comes the next step–the choices and decisions that lay ahead.

Despite my family’s desire to have me back home, I’m determined to continue with this journey in one way or another. I had planned a full year abroad, and wanted to extend it–I was searching for somewhere to be a semi-permanent base rather than hopping around every couple months. It appears that might be easier to manage now.

Life in Taipei is pretty good

Life in Taipei is pretty good

I found cities in which I would like live in Asia–I found comfort in Taipei and Tokyo, and even in Seoul (though it took a little longer to grow on me). Unfortunately, it’s too late to apply for teaching positions at universities as the semester is about to begin, if it hasn’t already, which leaves me with more corporate options through which to sift. I’ve already begun applying for positions and hope to find something suits me.

There is one other option in Cambodia that I have been contemplating. I’ve started helping a non-profit with social media management, and I was interested in heading there to volunteer around my previous schedule. Now that I have much more time, I can volunteer with the organization full time–the only problem being that I wouldn’t get paid anything for six to twelve months.

Maybe this will be my life

Maybe this will be my life

This leads to the option that I could raise money via Kickstarter or some other crowdfunding website. I certainly wouldn’t need much to cover expenses in Cambodia, and I could even donate any excess funds raised to the organization, but I’m still unsure if it’s the path I want to pursue–I’ve never been good at asking for money. There’s also the possibility that I could find enough freelance work to offset the financial burden.

What do my readers think? Should I find a corporate career outside the US or start fundraising to help children in Cambodia?

Is It Spring Break Yet?

One of the advantages of teaching at a college is that I have more vacation time. Unfortunately, I don’t work at a college that pays adjuncts well, so I have to supplement my income with other jobs, like working in the college writing center. But, there is still more time to travel than when I worked at the newspaper.

At the moment every college student is looking forward to spring break, and instructors are just as enthusiastic about the upcoming break. We enjoy a break from the students just as much as the students enjoy a break from us. Of course, some of us use spring break to catch up on grading and whatnot (my goal is to be caught up before the break begins).

I have never done anything interesting for spring break. When I was in college, few of my friends went away, so I just drove home and relaxed with some meals with my parents. In grad school I couldn’t afford to go away–I spent my days writing and hoping for warmer weather so I could go hiking.

Today, I’ve run into a different problem (although it’s not exactly a problem): I’d like to go away, but I’m scheduled to work in the writing center during the break (yes, tutoring services are available even when classes aren’t in session). I like the idea of having some extra money to pay my bills, so I can’t complain about working. Plus, few students come in for tutoring when they don’t have class, which means I’ll have time to write or read.

Even though my spring break is replaced by work, I have a plan. I work longer hours early in the week so I don’t have to work on Fridays (except when the college has faculty development). This provides me with some long weekends for road and train trips out of the area. I’m already planning a few trips to nearby breweries with friends. We’ll see if I can get to one during spring break.