What do most people do after they leave Taiwan? What do people who can speak okay Chinese, read a bit - but not up to newspaper level, understand a bit of the culture, and have spent 2-3 years in Taiwan have to look forward to in the job market “back home?” Do most people go back to grad school or have some other transition or reason for leaving Taiwan? And what about those that stay - what do the long termers end up doing - still teaching English or copy editing 10-15 years later? Just wondering.
Well Bai An, I am getting out of Free China (as you can tell by my handle) and going to Russia. After being here for more than two years I have come to realize that Eastern Europe interests me more than Asia. After getting the Russian language down I will enter a Ph.D. program in Eastern European History.
I am probably in a minority with my reasons, but thought I would indulge you and give an answer.
I’m a teacher of immigrant students in the US. It’s a fairly interesting job with the summers off, but I wish I had chosen something more intellectually stimulating. There are tons of highly qualified Chinese in the US who speak great English, so I don’t know that your level of Chinese is really going to help you. It may help in a peripheral way, but beings as I’m not crazy happy about my career choice, I’m not going to give career advice.
I started out teaching in Taiwan, but after 3 years realized that I didn’t want to do that forever and had no marketable skill to bring back to the US. I had a background in science, so when I saw an position for a medical editor I jumped at it. This was perfect for me, because I wasn’t quite ready to leave Taiwan and wanted to learn a skill I could market anywhere. I returned to the US after editing in Taiwan for several years, and didn’t have any problem finding work. Of course, I miss Taipei for some strange reason.
I first arrived in Taiwan in 1991, so many of my friends from the early days have since moved on. Most had intermediate Chinese skills. A couple have started small import/export companies; a few (most with an MBA or other business degree) moved on to HK and got into investment banking or trading); some got jobs in the US that had nothing to do with Asia; and a few have gone on to ESL teaching positions in the US.
We commit crimes.
“It’s all fun and games until someone puts out a lie.”
Well, some turn around and come straight back to Taiwan!!
Don’t ever say: “I’m leaving, and I’m never coming back!”
because, inevitably, you will. trust me.
WHY do we STAY here? Because we do. For different reasons, but we do.
No sense in packing up your whole life, full of glorious ambitions and dreams, and then coming straight back again, is there?
Taiwan is like a magnet for most of us. Either repelling those who don’t fit straight away, or attracting those who do, and not letting go.
I personally, cannot imagine going back to a ‘Walmart’ life. My friends back home are fatter, more sedentary, more complacent, lazier, dissatisfied with their career choices (see v above), tied to mortgages, eaten alive by credit debt, and just coasting towards retirement, generally…
At least the expat folks I know here, some of whom are the same age as my much older-seeming friends back home, have LIVES!
They travel, engage in various mind expanding activities, study new things, try out new hobbies, engage in new activities, make new friends…all the time.
When you’re in a state of flux, which many expats are, you just end up with a lot more joie de vivre, than those who’re settled, planted, and firmly rooted.
Perhaps we have fewer assets living in Taiwan, although I do have quite a few amigos who own their own places here or in Philippines or Thailand, etc…but we have more life experience.
We’re definately not STUCK here.
Well put, Alien.
Couldn’t have said it better myself. Wish there were better delis, tho’.
maybe we should open our OWN proper deli! then we’d really be living the life, eh?
your homemade soups of the day,
large imported assortment of olives (in brine!), pickled onions, pickled anything, huge choice of sauces, pasta salads by the pint, cottage cheese!, sliced meats for the carnivores…
located near the TWTC.
the new york deli in the Westin is as close as you can get right now, but it’s pretty good…
you can see me settin’ in the sun there every saturday lunch.
Alien, very well put. But does anyone out there - in the middle of the night, just wake up and wonder about little things like a pension plan, Roth IRA’s, 401 k’s, medicare, and so on. To be honest, I never did, but lately I’ve been wondering if I am going to regret (maybe too strong of a word) not having all that later. It’s great to be in Taiwan in your 20’s and 30’s - lots of fun, trips to Thailand while friends back home are lucky to get to Disney World. However, I see the Wal-Mart crowd every time I go back. Some are happy and some are not. But I would bet a lot of them have benefits - a house and retirement money - that a lot of us teachers and travelers can’t even dream about ever having. Sorry to be so down - thanks for letting me vent.
Sorry, it’s me again. Jeff and Alien (and everyone else, too) thanks for your post(s). Jeff, can you go into some more details, please - especially about your friends who found jobs in the US with no Asian connection. Was their time in Taiwan (or Asia) seen as a hinderance or benefit? What age generally did they leave Taiwan? Also, please tell me more about the kind of editing you did - did it lead you directly into something when you went back? Did your Chinese stagnate when you started to work as an editor(assuming that teaching left you with more time to study). And what kind of products are the import/ export companies handling?
I have the seeds of a plan regarding pensions. More later when its more concrete. What’s Roth IRA’s 401K? Are these Yanqui things, or what?
I will probably get divorced.
Quite the contrary, many people who’ve been in Taiwan for years have quite steadily built up retirement savings, Jersey accounts, and so forth…it’s all the rage for discussion among some of us cronies lately!
I wouldn’t count on medicare or social security benefits even being around, when and if I get old. And from what I hear, 401k is in a drastic state at the moment.
But anyway, those back home may age ungracefully and have little to look forward to if they’re counting on a glorious retirement pension from uncle sam.
Besides, they’ll all be too old, fat and feeble to enjoy the places they’ve been waiting to travel to after retirement–mainly because they’ve been working their bollox off paying off loans their whole lives…
And those loans and debts don’t magically disappear when one retires.
My poor old dad has been travelling like a fiend since retiring, but he can barely take a stroll around the places he visits (it’s more like, sit on the city tour bus and go back to the hotel)…I guess too many years of coming home from work and parking in front of the tv.
(exactly like the friends I mentioned in my first post)
I’m not belittling him at all, in fact, I admire him greatly for having provided for our family so well, but I don’t envy him for having a wad in the bank when he can’t even bend over to tie his own shoes anymore. I get the third degree from him every time I visit for not having mapped out my own retirement. So, I just shrug and tell him “I’m preserving myself now daddy, so I can remarry at the age of fifty, to an old rich coot like you, who’ll think I’m fabulous!”
Then, guess what he does? He hooks up this 60 year old divorced pal in LA with my email address…haha!
But the funniest thing is, this guy lived in Colombia for 30 odd years, married a Colombian woman whom he’s now divorced from, and moved back to the US to live with his elderly mom in LA…there you go.
For tomorrow we die.
I do have one friend whose doing alright in the US. She’s fat, but she’s happy, and as it happens, she’s sitting on 1000 acres of the richest tobacco land that side of the valley Nile.
(to maul a line from Tennessee Williams)
But that land has been in her family for 200 years and she’s a groovey chick with a groovey man at her side who built a groovey log cabin on a parcel of that land. And I had a great time visiting their spread recently and pickin’ tomatoes, herbs, pumpkins, etc…
If you’re stuck ‘Walmarting’, then that’s the way to go. OWN some REAL LAND. And do what you damn well please with it. Just hold onto it.
Alien, once again - excellent post. Could you please tell us a little bit more about Jersey plans (not familar with that one). What do some of your friends do - sock away money in their home country - in that country’s currency? How much do they put away (approximately)? Thanks for your help. Wal-Mart is okay, I think.
Originally posted by bai an: Jeff, can you go into some more details, please - especially about your friends who found jobs in the US with no Asian connection. Was their time in Taiwan (or Asia) seen as a hinderance or benefit? What age generally did they leave Taiwan? Also, please tell me more about the kind of editing you did - did it lead you directly into something when you went back? Did your Chinese stagnate when you started to work as an editor(assuming that teaching left you with more time to study). And what kind of products are the import/ export companies handling?
One went into hotel management, several went into sales, a few went into stock trading, another got into IT, and some went back for graduate degrees. They left Taiwan in their late 20s-early thirties, after being there for roughly 2-5 years. I’m not sure whether they perceived their time in Taiwan as a hindrance or a benefit, but none regretted it. Overall, the ones who exclusively taught had a tougher time re-establishing themselves in the US job market than those who initially taught but then branched out into other areas. I have several friends who went to HK several years ago, and are doing very well as finacial analysts (still in HK).
I did editing papers for researchers who wanted to publish in English-language journals. For the most part, they needed substantive editing. My education was in biology/molecular genetics and I had three years of post-grad reasearch experience, so that was a big help. The work I did in Taiwan did lead directly to several job offers once I got back to the US. However, when still I was in Taiwan, it was hard to get a nibble on resumes sent to US companies unless I mentioned that I would be traveling in the US and could stop by to meet while I was there.
My spoken Chinese improved after I started editing, but then again I’ve never studied Chinese formally. When I taught, I used mostly English with students and staff. At my editing job, I spoke mostly Chinese.
Everything from Asian arts and furniture to electronics.
Originally posted by bai an: Do most people go back to grad school or have some other transition or reason for leaving Taiwan?
I left for several reasons:
Vacation-My wife’s family is in Malaysia, mine is in Atlanta, so all of our vaction time and money were spent on visiting family.
Career-better chances for growth in US market, at least for what I wanted to do. Salaries also higher, in general. But taxes are higher, too.
Children-As far as I could tell, they weren’t eligible for public education in Taiwan, and private shools aren’t cheap.
quote:Many do just that. Others open their own schools or businesses.
And what about those that stay - what do the long termers end up doing - still teaching English or copy editing 10-15 years later? Just wondering.
Alien, you are fixated on fat, I must say. One of the major reasons I moved back to the US is because I didn’t want my children growing up in such a polluted environment- does this aspect of Taiwan ever enter you health conscious/fat-free mind? Just curious- what is your job? Are you 100% satisfied with it? PS Taiwan made me more aware of my obligation to people who have been good to me, ie my mom (my version of xiao sun fumu). So another reason I moved back was to take care of her. We are building an addition to our house which she will be living in.
Thanks a lot, Jeff. You provided a lot of valuable information. Are you in the States now? How long have you been there (since leaving Taiwan)? Any thoughts about living in the US with your family are appreciated. For example, you mentioned that your wife is from Malaysia, was it hard for her to adjust to life in the USA? Is she working - was it hard for her to find a job? Finally, do you miss Taiwan - I think you must have been in Taipei? And one more thing, was it expensive to move back with your family - did it take a lot of cash to make the move and get started again in the USA? Thanks very much.
Originally posted by bai an: Are you in the States now? How long have you been there (since leaving Taiwan)?
Yes, we’ve been back just over 2 years now.
you mentioned that your wife is from Malaysia, was it hard for her to adjust to life in the USA? Is she working - was it hard for her to find a job?
It’s been a slow adjustment for her, but partly because she’s not working outside the house. I think if she were, she’d meet more people and have an easier time getting used to it. She likes it better here in Southern California than she did in Atlanta. Easier access to Asian markets and a shorter flight back to Malaysia for visits.[/QB][/QUOTE]
Finally, do you miss Taiwan - I think you must have been in Taipei? And one more thing, was it expensive to move back with your family - did it take a lot of cash to make the move and get started again in the USA? Thanks very much.
Yes, I miss Taipei. Everyday life was a bit more of an adventure there. But I’m happy we came back.
Moving back would have cost about 6-8 thousand USD (plus air fare) if we had moved ALL our stuff with a regular mover. Instead, we sold the furniture/appliances, spent about 1,700 USD on shipping back the essentials (including clothes, toys, and dog), and used the savings to buy new stuff in the states.