Saturday, November 26, 2011

I Miss Taiwan

Many years ago B and I moved to Taiwan (back in 2003). At that time, we knew basically nothing about Chinese culture, the Chinese language, or Taiwan. In fact, I was quite confident that language wouldn't be a problem because "everyone speaks English there!" (Hahahahahaha: so dumb)
We moved there for an adventure, based on the fact that it was supposedly easy to get English teaching jobs there and the pay was good. We knew no one there (and actually moved without any job either). Once we got there, I cried every day for the first two months because it was so strange and I couldn't communicate with anyone or even read the street signs (which were of course in Chinese). We spent hours wandering around looking for food, because we couldn't read any of the menus and were frightened of ordering at random (since they eat some weird stuff there like gelatinous duck's blood on a stick). The only reason we didn't return home is because I am really stubborn.
But slowly we got accustomed to our new country. We both found jobs (the rumors about the pay and the ease of finding work were true) and got an apartment. We began learning Mandarin and learning about Taiwanese and Chinese culture. I took calligraphy classes and B learned how to play mah jong and drink tea properly. Our apartment overlooked a national park, and we used to go hiking in it often (B went every day for a long while), viewing flying squirrels, wild monkeys, and birds that I thought only existed in pictures. We were able to travel all over the island and see many beautiful places, and to venture further into southeast Asia (Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand).
It was also a life-changing experience. B became fluent in Mandarin and discovered a great interest in China, which shaped his study in grad school, his career path, and is the reason we are now in Singapore. We were introduced to an entirely new culture, religion, and way of thinking, which had profound effects on our values and world view. It was sort of an introduction to the broader world.
In the end, we stayed for two years rather than one and were sorry to leave, although it was time (we both left to go to graduate school). Sometimes I still think of Taiwan fondly, and would love to go back someday: to eat the great food (B thinks it's the best in Asia), visit the vibrant temples and night markets, and go hiking in the beautiful parks.

--Exercise: 1 hour gym.
--Diet: Breakfast: Kix with soy milk and golden raisins; Lunch/dinner: Hamburger on foccacia with lettuce and tomato; butter lettuce salad; Snack: gummy bears; Drinks: cranberry juice
--Other: Did not drink enough water


  1. I can't imagine being thrown so abruptly into such a radically different culture. It's been hard enough in Spain, and we're trying to decide if we'll want to try another international experience after this or if we'll just want to go back to the states and settle into our "real lives." It's awesome to see that your move to Taiwan had such a positive impact on your lives despite it starting out rough--it gives me hope!!

  2. Well, you just moved there (and seem to be doing better than I was at first!). I don't think you'll be able to really tell for at least 6 months.