About to move to Taipei


#1

Hi there,
I’m Robby from the netherlands.

In about two weeks I will be going to Taipei for a long period of time (2 or more years).

I’m wondering if there are people who can give me some tips or tell me some things to be aware of…

Thanks anyway !

Robby


#2

I suggest that you address your specific questions to the relevant FORUMS on this ORIENTED.ORG website.

Cheers!


#3

What’s up, Robby? I’d be happy to help you out. This is a very simple guide to living happily in Taiwan, and I’m sure others will have more to add:

1)Don’t even think about trying to live the way you’re used to. It’s expensive, and you’ll never get to understand and appreciate the beauty of Taiwan’s Chinese culture.

2)Eat everything. Just try it. You may not like it, but over time you’ll figure out what you do like, and even acquire a taste for things you didn’t like to begin with.

3)Make Chinese friends. This is absolutely imperative. You’re not gonna be able to figure everything out for yourself, and good Chinese friends will give you important and meaningful insight in to the Chinese way of life.

4)Don’t forget who you are and where you came from. It’s important to live as the locals do when you’re here, but beware of “going native”. Integrate the good things about Chinese culture in to your philosophy, while being content with who you are. At the same time, beware of a “superiority complex”. Arrogance is the quickest path to oblivion.

5)Be open minded. The gifts that Chinese culture has to offer won’t be immediately apparent. It takes time, and the best thing you can do is have an open mind. Avoid being critical, at all costs, especially when in the company of your Chinese friends.

6)It’s not imperative to be fluent in Chinese to live in Taiwan. But it’s indeed helpful, as not knowing Chinese will certainly and severely limit your ability to absorb the culture and gain understanding of the people.

7)Don’t judge others on their English speaking ability. I’ve seen foreigner after foreigner do this, and it really pisses me off. Especially considering that most Taiwanese-Chinese people speak 3 or more languages, while most native English speakers only speak one.

8)Learn to use the public transportation system, which includes buses and underground subways. It’s cheap, reliable, and a better alternative than risking your life on a scooter. Some people absoultely thrive on this risky business, but be aware that you’re putting yourself in danger’s way if you choose to ride one. Even taxi’s are considerably cheaper than the west, but should still be used sparingly.

9)Living in one of Taipei’s southern “metro” areas is considerably cheaper than living in Taipei itself. These include: Hsintien, Jung-He, Yung-He, Banchaio and others. I can’t name them all right now, but if any other forum users have some to add, go for it. The housing can be as cheap as $10,000NT a month.

10)Get a mobile phone! It can be even cheaper than a land line, and Chinese people generally don’t like to leave messages. It will be your connection to the community.


#4

mojo, I think you gave some good suggestions, especially about not being critical about Taiwan in the company of Chinese. I’ll add that many I’ve talked to went through a similar process as myself: 1) a period of weeks in which you absolutely love Taiwan 2) This gives way to hating Taiwan and complaining about it to who’s ever around. Best to complain with foreigners or on oriented as usually these strong feelings will subside and you won’t alienate Chinese friends in the process 3) Be aware that you will probably be lonely. Many Chinese will want to talk to you in English and seem to want to be very good friends with you. They will flatter you non-stop. Realize that probably a majority (at least in the city areas) just want to practice English with you, and don’t take it personally. When you learn to hold a good conversation in Mandarin you will be able to find more real Chinese friends.4) After about a year of hating Taiwan, your Mandarin should have improved to the point where you can start to learn more about the people, culture, political system- Taiwan will be more interesting; you’ll have adapted to the feeling of being a monkey on display. Don’t let this turn into the “I’m a movie star” syndrome, however. 5) Don’t get into a romantic relationship with either a fellow traveler or a local right away. It is natural to want to pair up for security, but it’s the wrong reason to get into a relationship. Try to make friends, learn the language, just stand up more on your own two feet before diving into a romantic relationship. If you get itchy- do what you did at home when you were itchy and unattached. 6)Imagine your last day on Taiwan when you are in the airport. Imagine thinking over all you have done and experienced. What do you want to make sure you have tried to do before you leave? Use those thoughts to plan. You can’t plan for everything, but I think you’ll get more out of Taiwan with this approach rather than just letting things happen to you. 7) It’s easy to forget about keeping in touch with family and friends when you are on an adventure. But you will feel extra lonely when you go back to your home country for visits or permanently if you haven’t tried to keep up with people on a regular basis- say at least monthly. I didn’t have the internet when I was in Taiwan- so it should be a lot easier now. But, if you let a lot of time slip by, you may start to feel guilty and not want to contact people, or feel weird about doing it. So get into the habit of phoning, writing or emailing on a regular basis. Finally, I’m interested in the ‘going native’ phenomenon. Who has done it or seen people like that? Is it always negative? Why?-v