How time flies! I can’t believe I’ve been here for nearly ten weeks. It feels like just a couple days ago I was checking into the Eight Elephants Hostel ready to embark on a new adventure. When I came here back in November, I was planning on staying for three school terms with the hope of getting my Mandarin to working-level proficiency. Since then, I’ve had an ongoing internal debate whether to stay the course and be here through August, or change my plans and return early.
I finalized my decision during the CNY break. I decided not to enroll for the spring term. Several reasons prompted my decision to end my stay earlier than expected. I came to Taiwan for two main reasons: for the experience of living abroad and to increase my fluency.
After considering the costs/benefits of staying here for another term, I realized that staying here would not be worth the money. I’ve already gotten the experience of living in Taiwan. Although I wish I could be more fluent, I don’t think time spent here can justify the opportunity cost of not working. Not to mention I still have a ton of student loans that I still need to pay down, and that I’ve spent much more than budgeted for Taiwan. I plan to hire a tutor to provide discipline around my studying efforts once back in the States.
Instead of using the tuition + housing money for another term in Taiwan, after the current term ends, I’ll be heading down to Singapore to embark on a visit around Southeast Asia. I’ve already booked my tickets to Singapore, but am currently in the process of figuring out where to visit. Any trip suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
A part of me feels guilty for traveling even more considering I still have loans to payoff, but I figure I’ve already spent a lot chasing my language fluency goals, might as well spend time traveling before returning. I’m really excited about what SE Asia has to offer, but truthfully I am a bit terrified of backpacking around a region alone. I can only think of the interesting experiences that’ll happen.
Here’s to hoping everything works out!
I can’t believe it’s already been a month since I’ve been in Taiwan! I realized that my past posts really haven’t been about my life in Taipei. So to update in brief:
Housing. I was surprised by how fierce and quick competition can be to get a place here in Taipei. I was lucky to find a place that’s only a 15 min walk to classes, 5 minutes to the MRT and to a huge park, and within walking distance to friends’ apartments. I live in a 4bd/2br apt on the 7th floor, and can see Taipei 101 from my bedroom. I live with three 20-somethings that all speak Chinese (and English). Our schedules don’t really overlap, so I don’t get to see them much, but whenever they are around, you can bet I am practicing my Chinese! So glad that my living situation worked out the way I had hoped for.
Social. It’s been only a month, but I’ve met countless people from all over the world though mainly from EUR, AUS, and NZ and some from JP and the States. It’s such an amazing thing to be able to learn about everyone’s background, goals, etc whether during meals, sports (already played some soccer while here), sightseeing, or a night out on the town!
School. The purpose of why I’m here. Homework is intense, but definitely manageable. I’m getting more comfortable using Chinese on a day-to-day basis, and I know my tones are getting crisper. The no-pressure feeling to succeed also helps ease the stress.
I did it! I can’t believe I’m actually here! After deplaning, I picked up my luggage, exchanged my money, and headed out to catch the bus to the city. During the hourlong bus ride, I made several first impressions about my new home:
- It’s hot and humid! I knew that I’d be in the tropics, but didn’t realize it was going to be THIS humid.
- This place reminds me of the East Side of the Big Island. Everything is green. Probably due to the rain, a lot of the buildings look run down.
After getting to Taipei Main Station, I made my way through the maze of this massive building for my metro. Although carrying my luggage with me was an inconvenience, I managed to find the train, bought my EasyCard, and hopped on. Three stops later I arrived at Guting station, found my hostel, and checked-in.
I’m staying at Eight Elephants Hostel for a week. I’m in a single, but besides the room itself, everything else is shared. This place has a real homey vibe to it! I’ve already met a bunch of people: some on holiday, some students like myself. My only plan for this week is to find housing, and perhaps a job teaching English. Besides that, I’m really just going to play it by ear and go with the flow – I love this feeling.
I finally took the plunge. The decision was without a doubt one of the riskiest decisions I’ve ever made in my life. The feeling still hasn’t completely settled in; it’s still surreal. I’ve learned that the hardest part of following your heart and your true interests is really the commitment to follow through. Sure, I saved up for nearly two years to make pursuing my interests possible, but having a financial safety net means nothing if you don’t actually execute on what you’ve been hoping to do.
It’s so easy to just give up, and postpone following your heart for another day.
I knew that given my current circumstances, now was the right time to do something that I might never be able to do when I’m older. Ironically enough, earlier this week I was given an open offer to work in our Singapore office following the end of my program. I’d like to believe that this goes to show that life is really about taking risks and following your heart. It might be scary when facing the unknown, but somehow the universe has a tendency of providing us with what we need at the right time. I cannot express how grateful, lucky, and appreciative I am for how everything has worked out.
But anyway, I still can’t believe that within several weeks, I’ll be going to a foreign country knowing nobody, looking for housing, enrolling in a language program, finding a part-time job, and most importantly, meeting new people from around the world! The thought of all of this kind of scares me. Actually, it scares me a lot; however, I’m sure that without a doubt, my time there will be an experience filled with memories that’ll last a lifetime!