We’ll start with Kristine’s first question to begin this summer’s “What Do You Want to Know” posts.
“Was it hard going over there and not having the stuff you were used to? Favorite foods, drinks, shows, cars, seasons?”
For starters, there were some things that were hard when I first got here. Kristine mentioned shows, and it was a bit awkward to not turn on the television every night to watch the latest and greatest, but they do play a few of them here every once in a while. If there was nothing on, though, we found ways to keep updated on such shows, thanks to video streaming and Hulu, but cars and foods were not one of the biggest issues. Here in Taipei there are so many great modes of public transportation that it became easy to adjust to walking to the subway system (MRT) and hopping a bus to the nearest park. (However, I would like to mention that I was terrified of the bus system for, like, the first year because I had no idea how the maps worked. Hint: they do not actually form a “road map,” but instead just show you a nicely organized list of all the stops. lol Now they are one of my favorite modes to take!) I must add, though, that we recently got a scooter, which is fabulous for exploring new places that buses don’t go, so while I do love the public transportation system, I won’t lie that I do love having a scooter! 😉
As for food, I easily adjusted to food here. There are so many excellent flavors, sauces, and different ways to cook one type of food, and it’s so readily available, that I am actually having trouble remembering how to eat the food back home. Haha! In fact, I can’t go out to get burgers anymore. My body literally rejects all the grease… This is the same for drinks. I hate how expensive milk is over here, but supplement that with the unhealthy milk tea here, and I’ve got a winner! 😉 In all seriousness, though, there are so many drink options here that I may feel limited back home, actually – well, except for lemonade. How I do miss lemonade…
Related to that, I also really miss desserts. The desserts here just do not compare to back home. Many Taiwanese don’t like anything too sugary, and, well, I am a processed sugar kind of gal, so let me tell you: the cakes here may look beautiful on the outside, but unless you go to a specialty shop (as in, the manager/chef spent years abroad learning Western cooking methods), they are so not worth it. That is not to say, though, that all desserts are bad. If you find a lovely pineapple cake (more like shortbread), those are great, or I am a big fan of red bean dishes here, too, those are usually delightful. It’s the “faux-Western” cakes that I can’t take.
Now, on the opposite side, Kristine did mention seasons, and for sure I miss those. I have no sense of time here. Every week and month just blend together. I still haven’t adjusted to not having snow for Christmas, or feeling that delightful yet mysteriously crisp air around Halloween. Heck, their Ghost Month comes in the summertime, and I just can’t seem to find that spooky at all. They do have Mid-Autumn Festival, which is nice, but it still doesn’t quite feel like my Michigan Fall back home. I actually think the thing I’m looking forward to the most once I return home is having official seasons again. They push me, give me a sense of motivation, and, like I said, time.
Overall, I would have to say that I adjusted easily to many of those things over here, but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t scared. In fact, there were days where I didn’t want to leave the apartment – and that actually stemmed from feeling like I would have to have long-winded conversations in Chinese, which was enough to stop me in my tracks. (I wasso not prepared for that!) No one understood my sarcasm or my puns. That part was difficult. But over time I slowly adjusted, gained confidence, and while I hardly have the need to speak Chinese on a daily basis now (they love practicing English here), I don’t mind it when I have to. I’m up for leaving the apartment and heading out, but yes, at first not having my native language on a daily basis may have been one of the hardest parts about coming here. It’s what made me feel like an outsider, and I think that was also what kept me holed up in my little apartment – the idea of rejection. I am the minority here, and some days it is blatantly obvious while other days I barely notice.
With that said, thanks, and Kristine, I hope that answered your question. It leads nicely into the next of yours, so perhaps I will pick up with that one. 😉
If you have a question about something in particular or anything to add to this, please feel free to comment below and let me know what you wanna know! 🙂 Stay tuned for more answers to more questions within the next few days!