An American makes plans to move to Taiwan.



If you go to Taiwan you will have to learn the phrase 'Bu Yao, Shie Shie' otherwise you are likely to explode before your trip is over. The phrase means 'don't want, thanks' and you will need to use it when people offer you the 5th helping, or the odd new treat after eating 2 meals worth of other foods. Of course this will come in handy if ur not an adventurous eater- and other times as well.

The Taiwanese seem to have an obsession with food, you will be suprised to see that they are so much skinnier than americans but seem to have the food intake of bull elephants. On the way to dinner you might stop by a stand for some meat on a stick and on the way back home you may drink some bubble tea.

There are so many different foods in Taiwan, I know I haven't experienced even a fraction of it. You will find food stands all over the place, especially in the night markets. There are little restraunts everywhere, most of which have great food at pretty good or cheap prices. The western food they make is just as good as what what I've had int he states, although you might not find all of your fatty comfort foods. There are all types of markets and grocery stores to go to. I had a large qauntity of dumplings and noodle soups, very good stuff.

Here in America it is a big deal going out to eat for me. I have to drive around looking for a place, hope they have parking, and the good food ussually is much more expensive than I want to pay. It seems that in Taiwan you can just wander out of ur house and for the price of a McDonalds meal you can get a hand-made delicious something-or-other that will be more healthy as well as delicious. Now I'm hungry...


Moving to my dad's

Well I will be moving at the end of the month to stay with my dad. Once I am there I will need to hurry up and get a job. By my calculations I will have more than enough money saved up by the end of summer 2007. All I need is a job that pays about $9 an hour or more, plus I can do freelance on the side (which I'm not figuring in.) Lucky for me my dad will not be charging me rent, just having me help out around the house and with some larger projects of his.

My mom is also moving to a new house so I will be helping her with that. My friend Hunt, my cousin Daniel, and I will be helping her and she will be renting a truck as well. We should be able to do it all in one day easily. The house is very close by.

I have been talking to some of my old friends more now that I am single but I haven't really gone out to do anything with them. I am hoping to change that when I move to rockville. I might also be taking some classes if I have the time and money for it. I think I also mentioned working out. I dunno why but its really hard for me to motivate myself. I did work out the last 2 days. I have been streatching so that has helped me not get too sore. But yesterday I dunno what I did wrong and my bicep was hurting all day. I think I was using it to compensate for my left arm when i excercised it. I've been stretching it all day today and it seems to be better now. One thing I'd really like is to be able to get some abs, not sure if I will be able to get those crazy defined abs I see on TV, but at least something. Haha!


Am I American?

Well yes, I am. I am an American. My family has lived in and around Maryland since it was English colonies, or something like that. So yes I am pretty thoroughly American in that respect. At the same time however I feel that I don't really line up with your 'average' American at all. I don't really get into a lot of sports, I don't like to debate about whether or not Bush is an idiot. I don't go to the bars or clubs to 'party' every weekend. I don't waste money on fancy things to show off to others... These are things that usually annoy me and they are also things that are sort of stereotypically American. Oh and being morbidly obese and totally ignorant...

Well the Taiwanese have some more stereotypes for us as well. A lot of them think we are all totally loose and sex crazy with 20 different strains of STDs. This isn't the case. Most people I know are not promiscuous, and a lot of the more religious types are totally against sex in general it seems. But like I said I don't really hang out with your average American, so maybe my view is off as well.

I think a lot of Taiwanese think that foreigners who come to Taiwan are looking for easy money and easy women, a generally easy lifestyle. This seems to be partially true, there are plenty of people who do that, but also plenty who take pride in the country and do their best to put forth the best effort and help the community. For me I am looking for a 'happy' lifestyle. I just don't feel that I fit in, in America. Its true that I like to take the easy way out sometimes but I think that going off on your own to the other side of the world, and another culture can only be considered SO easy. I mean I guess if you do a shitty job at work, and generally put the least effort possible into everything then that's gonna be more easy. Plenty of others are learning Chinese, learning to teach, trying to help their neighbors and fellow ex-pats. That's one thing that makes me think moving to Taiwan will be a nice transition, the people I've met online who are in Taiwan seem so friendly and helpful, I hope I still have that view once I get there.

Well hopefully I didn't ramble on too badly. I guess my point is that I am proud to be an American, but not because of our current cultural situation, I find it boring and cold. Life in Taiwan might be a little crazy but at least its exciting and warm, and I don't just mean the temperature.


Dating and Relationships

Well as I said before, I just got out of a relationship, 2 years living together. So now I am trying to adjust to being single. Its funny Jess and I are good friends and I don't exactly miss her but I do miss having a girlfriend to be comfortable with. I guess I just got used to it at this point. I've basically had a girlfriend since I was 15 with about 4 months being single total.

I am exited by the prospects of meeting girls in Taiwan. I also met a really nice Chinese girl online, if she is able to get over to Taiwan for a trip I am curious if that could turn into something. It's probably best I don't put too much thought into that part - just wanna see how it pans out.

I've never really been attracted to American girls. They usually enjoy doing things I hate as hobbies, and when i talk to them, we don't have much to say since we basically have the same life experiences. In highschool I dated a Sri Lankan girl, I learned a lot of things about her culture and buddhism, it was really interesting. After that I couldn't imagine going out with any more American girls.

I have been reading posts on Forumosa abotu relationships, I guess they are complicated all the world round. One complaint I heard a few times is that Taiwanese girls are 'immature' or too 'cutesy.' All the TW girls I met so far seem more grown up than me, and the cutesy thing is sorta fun. I guess thats just my taste - but I am sure there are tons of super serious work driven girls in Taiwan as well.

Well it will be fun living in Taiwan, even just for the fact that I will finally be the exotic one!


Preparing for Taiwan

Currently I am living with Jess across the street from the college we graduated from. By the end of the month I will be moved into my dad's house. This will allow me to save money (no rent) and I will also be able to help my parents with their projects. My mom is moving to a new house and my dad needs to fix up some things in his place. So now I need to chart out my goals in preparing for Taiwan, and for the next months living here.

  • Get a new job to earn money for the ticket and rent in Taiwan.
  • Make sure paperwork is in order, I need a renewable Visa.
  • Find a place in Taiwan to live, needs to be affordable and near to jobs/transportation.
  • Find some prospective jobs in Taiwan, just to get a headstart on getting set-up.
  • Review the process, make sure I have up to date info on ARCs and work permits.
  • Language training, go over the details of English grammar, as well as learning more basic Chinese.
  • Find a good time, get a plane ticket that is cheap and also arrives at a good time in the season.
I'll be adding to this list as I think of more things. Leave me a comment with any other suggestions.

I am also going to try to get a little more in shape, I am still only about 160 lbs which is an OK weight for me, but I am feeling really week. I get gassed after doing really minor physical things, I probably could do with some jogging or bike riding. I am also going to be doing a little freelance web design, hopefully in the next week or so I will be doing an assignment. I created the Galerie Francoise ESF website a while back and will be getting it up to date for the client.

I have a lot to do in the next 6 month in order to get ready but one thing I am not sure about is my 'confidence level.' I am not the MOST independant guy in the world. I like to ask for help with things and can often be really shy in new situations. I think my #1 worry in going to Taiwan is that I won't be bold enough to get what I want/need and deal with some of the more pushy Taiwanese practices. I guess I am hoping that I will just be able to 'do what I gotta do' when the time comes.


Taiwan Comic 01

Okay, I drew a little comic strip about taking the trash out in Taiwan. It was a joint effort with 'Taffy' from Forumosa for the writing. It was going to be in his 'Taiwanease Magazine' but was cut due to a space crunch - DAMMIT!

Anyway here it is - tell me what you think!

Click the Image for larger view.

Stress VS Relaxation

"One must know the so-called 'lesson of a downpour.' A man caught in a sudden rain en route, dashes along the road not to get wet or drenched. Once one takes it for granted that in the rain he naturally gets wet, he can be in a tranquil frame of mind even when soaked to the skin. This lesson applies to everything."
-Yamamoto Tsunetomo

I found this quote on one of my profiles today, its from the book 'Hagakure.' If you aren't familiar with the book it was written by a samurai a few hundred years ago as a guide for other samurai to follow in their everyday lives. I think the quote really fits in with a concept I have been thinking about lately, the idea of stress VS relaxation. In school, many of my friends would work hours on end to complete projects, while others would totally blow things off all together. I always felt that I kept a good balance by doing what was expected of me to get what I wanted and then not go any further. The result is I would spend about 3 hours on something and get a B+ or A-. The people who worked 12 hours would get As, or sometimes the same grade as me. I felt that getting a slightly lower grade was worth it because I was able to use my time doing things I liked. THe hard workers would call me lazy but at the same time they seemed to make their lives miserable.

The quote above relates to this because what I have done is accepted the reality of the situation. If people only expect a certain amount of work out of you and you do that, you have gotten to your goal. There are certain cases where you must go beyond that to impress them or to do them a favor, but that is not the norm. Many people spend so much time working hard and getting no credit for it, its just like trying to run through the downpour. Once you get wet, you are wet, and once your work is done, it is done. Whats the point of going betond that if its just going to make you miserable. This is just my way of thinking and its served me well.


The Motivation

I said I would explain what attracts me to Taiwan, so here we go.

I am the type of person who likes to spend a lot of time indoors. I do enjoy things like hiking, sports, and other outdoor activites, but I just never find myself going out and initiating them on my own. So most of the time I will be inside playing with the computer, watching TV or movies, or playing videohgames. Yes I know it sounds boring, but relaxing at home makes me feel contented, most of the time.

This brings me to the point. When I do want to go out in the US, I really can't find anything I'd like to do. I wish i could just walk outside and mingle with people, the only place to do that here seems to be the mall. However the mall can be a very cold and impersonal place, its not likely you're going to make friends there. In the US most stores close at 9 and the 24-hour stores have really bad service after hours, don't make me tell you my Kinkos story. In the US I find that most of the people I meet either have so little in common with me that I can't stand them, or they are so similar to me that I get bored.

Now in Taiwan a lot of these issues I have seem to be totally opposite, some because I am a foreigner, others because of Taiwan's set-up. If I get bored inside I can actually walk outside and DO something. I can walk down to the corner store and get some food and its likely someone might talk to me. Theres a lot more to look at in Taiwan in general, it may be jumbled up and sorta dirty, but I just love the sights and sounds and smells. I'm sure some of it will wear off, but still. Stores are often open at night, and whole 'night markets' open in the evening. You just walk around checking things out and haggling for random items, most of which are allready well priced. Going out to shop or hang out in Taiwan is just a much warmer experience, the sort of thing I would be willing to drag myself away from the computer for. You can shop daily, get rid of trash daily, and just keep things to a short term basis. In the US you have to drive like 15 mins to the store, stockpile a bunch of food that ends up going bad, and then hoarding your trash all week for the garbage truck!

Also, don't forget the food. I'm sure I could devote a whole blog to food, I'm sure some people have. Its really tasty, generally healthy, and a lot cheaper than a crappy Big Mac.

Jess' friends and I at a 'hot pot' restraunt in Ping Dong.

These are just a few of the things that make me feel like Taiwan will be a much more comfortable place for me to live. The next topic I'll need to address is the career path of an ex-pat in Taiwan, it can take many forms but I'll go into that next time.


The Beginning

Last winter I took a trip with my girlfriend to Taiwan. I knew it was going to be a special thing, maybe a 'once in a lifetime oppurtunity,' but now I think it is going to turn into something more than that.

I stayed with my girlfriend's parents in the south of Taiwan, Ping Dong. It was really an interesting experience, I got to see Taiwan from the point of view of a citizen rather than a tourist. I went on the regular shopping trips, to the local stores, the night markets, and so on. I felt like I got to see the real gritty side of Taiwan that a lot of foreigners might miss on a short visit. I did manage to go to a lake and a couple other places outside the city. I visited 'Love River' in Kaohsiung and hung out in a few cities in central Taiwan over a weekend.

As soon as I got back to the US I felt that I had left something important behind. I had made a few friends, and I just felt like the culture really suited me. I'll go into more detail on that in the future.

Now my girlfriend and I have broken up, luckily it was a smooth transition, we are still great friends, and currently roommates. I just graduated from college with a BA in Graphic Design, and I have only a small part-time job. It looks like its the perfect time for me to follow my dream of living in Taiwan. For the last year I have been reading websites, blogs, and forums in order to get the upper hand on the situation. and Michael Turton's projects were a great help to me. I think I have the will, the skill sets, and the desire needed to make it in Taiwan and I am planning to chronical my progress here with this blog. I thank you for reading and I hope that I can entertain you with my 'newbie' observations and other personal insights.


Labels: , , ,