Quarantine in Taiwan with Teacher Jamie – Teaching in Taiwan in 2020

Quarantine in Taiwan with Teacher Jamie – Teaching in Taiwan in 2020

We’re back with another great Reach To Teach teacher interview. Before we begin, we’d like to extend a warm welcome to all Reach To Teach teachers that arrived this summer and sailed through quarantine in Taiwan.

The process to enter Taiwan has never been stricter, but we appreciate everyone who put their faith and trust in Reach To Teach to get you through your paperwork and into Taiwan. We’re so happy to see that all of our teachers are here safe and sound.

Meet Jamie, an American teacher who has a few days left in quarantine in Taiwan before she starts her new job as a grade 2 teacher at one of Reach To Teach’s Taipei public schools! Jamie outlines some of the hardest aspects of getting her paperwork done at US TECO offices during the COVID19 pandemic.

Bottom line: Be persistent and we’ll get you through it! 

Jamie, you have been so much fun to work with and we’re so impressed with how quickly you got everything done in the US to make your move to Taiwan. Jiā yóu! 加油!

Read on to learn more about Jamie’s journey to come to Taiwan and what the quarantine process was like for her.

RTT: Hi Jamie! Thanks so much for agreeing to interview with us and tell us a bit about all the hard work you’ve been doing this summer. Can we start with a short introduction for our readers? 

My name is Jamie and I’m from Kansas City, Missouri, home of the best barbecue and the 2020 Super Bowl champions. Go Chiefs! 😊 I was a second grade teacher at a public school in Missouri for three years. Teaching has always been my passion, and as much as I loved teaching in the States, I always had a desire to teach abroad.

RTT: Why did you decide to come and teach in Taiwan during a pandemic? It must’ve been frightening to think about quarantine in Taiwan and having to isolate further in a foreign country before you could begin teaching.

Moving to a foreign country during a pandemic sounds pretty crazy, and that’s because it is!

Like I said, I always had a hankering to teach abroad. My brother taught in Thailand and China, and I was able to visit him in both countries. Those travels opened my eyes to all that is out there and made me want to have crazy, fun travel adventures, too. I considered moving right after graduating from college, but decided it was best to get some teaching experience at home first. I told myself I’d give it three years and then reassess.

During year three I decided to go for it, and resign from my current position.

Well, would you believe I resigned before COVID-19 even existed?! Soon COVID-19 hit and I found myself freaking out over travel bans and being jobless! I had no idea if I would be teaching abroad after all. A lot of people encouraged me to stay put for one more year and then go, but I was determined to make it happen.

If not now, then when? Plus, the fact that Taiwan’s COVID numbers are drastically lower than the United State’s was a nice selling point.

RTT: How was your experience leading up to processing all your paperwork for moving to Taiwan? Did you find it hard to do all of the paperwork requirements in the US? We’ve heard that teachers were most frustrated by some of the offices they had to deal with.

The paperwork process was long, but Carrie and Rex were incredibly thorough and helpful! The main things I had to do were get a health check and a background check, and secure a COVID test 3 days before my flight.

Luckily by the time I was completing the paperwork process, places like doctor’s offices and police stations were opening back up for non-essential things. I needed an MMR vaccine to pass the health check, and I remember the doctor wouldn’t put his signature on the form. Carrie told me it was necessary, so I literally had to hunt the doctor down the next day!

I also applied for my background check incorrectly and had to do a second one. There’s so much on your plate that as meticulous as you feel you’re being, you might make a mistake. If you don’t want to learn the hard way like me, I suggest having someone double check your work on everything important! One day I made over 60 phone calls inquiring about documents and COVID testing. It was insane! Because of the pandemic, the TECO office in Denver was only open from 9AM to 12PM, which also made things difficult.

RTT: Has your new school been supportive throughout this whole process? How did you enjoy working with them and with Reach To Teach? For a while there, things were pretty crazy! We are so impressed with how quickly you moved through everything and how you were on top of everything. For the record, we started working together on June 4th and you arrived in Taiwan in record time on August 16, 2020. (We originally thought it might be closer to a three-month wait time for you.)

I have loved working with my school and Reach To Teach!

I had a coworker who taught in Taiwan for many years, and still has a lot of friends living here. One of those friends told me that Reach To Teach is the only agency she would recommend, and I agree with her!

Carrie and Rex explained things clearly, answered emails promptly, and did a great job reassuring me when I was stressed.

My school has also been phenomenal! The bilingual director Skyped with me before I signed my contract, making sure to answer any questions I had. She also put me in touch with teachers from the school who gave me amazing advice pertaining to work, housing, food, etc.

When I landed in Taiwan, they made sure I was able to get meals, and my grade level teammates even dropped off a quarantine care package on my doorstep! Everyone has been so helpful and welcoming.

RTT: Could you describe what happened when you arrived in Taiwan? What kind of quarantine instructions did the airport officials give to you upon arriving?

When I arrived to the airport in Taiwan, airport directors immediately directed me to a line to get a SIM card for my phone. They did everything for me and handed me back a working phone with a Taiwan phone number and 4G data. It was a breeze!

Next, they made sure I had filled out the quarantine online form, told me when my quarantine would end, and asked that I take my temperature every day.

I went through immigration, got my bags, and then they directed me to the line for quarantine taxis.

Before getting in the quarantine taxi, they sprayed me down with disinfectant from head to toe. That was kind of crazy!

The whole process took about three hours, but it was so easy and the airport workers were very helpful.

A government worker called me on my second day and told me she would be assigned to me during my quarantine. She was so sweet! I report my temperature to her everyday and she has arranged for trash collection for me.

RTT: How has quarantine gone for you? What is a normal day like for you?

Quarantine has gone surprisingly well for me! I am pretty good at being lazy (haha) but I still wasn’t sure how I would handle being cooped up alone for so long in a foreign country! It’s been fine, so far, though.

I am on day 11 of 15. (If you’re wondering why it’s 15 instead of 14, even though I landed at 4 AM, the first day didn’t count as it wasn’t a full 24 hours.) The days in quarantine go surprisingly fast! I have kept myself busy by video chatting with friends and family many days, journaling about this unique experience, and lesson planning for school. It’s been nice having all this time to prep for teaching!

A normal day in quarantine for me includes binge watching some shows (of course!), reading, working out, perusing social media, and learning some Chinese phrases through my language app. These are the things I make sure to do every single day. I also have spent time watching out the windows and envying the people I see outside. Haha!

RTT: What advice would you give to new teachers that have to go through quarantine before they can start teaching in Taiwan? Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about?

My advice is to go for it! If the pandemic and having to quarantine is potentially holding you back, know that Reach To Teach will help you through every step of the way. Even though the process was taxing, it’s nice to know that I’m here relaxing in quarantine with nothing left to worry about.

I promise the quarantine isn’t as daunting as it seems it would be. Just make sure you have a list of things you want to do each day and maybe some extra projects and tasks to throw in. Use the time to get over jet lag, prepare for teaching, and don’t forget to talk to family and friends a lot to get you through it! If you need any advice or a friend to talk to during the process, feel free to add me on LINE. My ID is jamiegulick.

RTT: Do you have any favorite blogs, resources, or websites about Taiwan that you’d like to share with our readers? (Housing, info, etc.?)

The only website that comes to mind is Reach To Teach’s. Seriously, read their articles. There is so much helpful information in the Reach To Teach Taiwan section! Also, there are some Facebook groups for Taiwan expats. Those have been really useful to me.

Other than that, Google will become your best friend. 😊

RTT: Thank you so much, Jamie! We wish you the best of luck on your first day of school and we look forward to meeting you at our Fall Meet & Greet event! 

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