Questions about getting set up in Taipei--

Hi! I came to Taipei almost two weeks ago to continue my Chinese studies. Now I’m thinking of asking my husband, who’s still in the U.S, to come join me here. I was thinking he could teach English while I study. I just have a couple questions-Did any of you arrive here to teach English with little or no Chinese ability (he doesn’t speak/read Chinese at all)? How much of a problem was the language barrier, in a big city like Taipei? And last, which neighboorhoods here tend to have a lot of expats & schools to work in? Thanks in advance for your replies, I appreciate the help!

You don’t need any chinese to teach. Many people live in Taipei for years with only rudimentary Chinese. The language barrier in the city is minimal. Every street and alley is signed in English. The MRT has English announcements. Many many restaurants and cafes have English menus. I speak okay Chinese but in my day to day routine I rarely need to even use it.

Every neighborhood has schools in it. As for living, the outer suburbs have the best air quality and close proximity to the mountains for hiking and biking and just hanging out. Check out Muzha, Tienmu, Xindian/Bitan, Neihu, and also the northern stops along the MRT line. They all have a fair number of foreigners living in them but only in Tienmu will you see foreigners daily. Really, though, that shouldn’t be much of a sellign point. You’ll want foreigners who are friends in your life not just foreigners. And you won’t make friends with them just cause they are in your neigborhood. Some of the people around here won’t even acknowledge me if they pass me on a narrow alley. (I’m not kidding.) Most of the foreigners I’ve become friends with have been through activities such as the hiking club.

Thanks so much for your reply MM, that’s just the info I was looking for! I’ve noticed that strange phenomenon whereby some other foreigners passing right by pretend to not even see me, or look away (and I’m not THAT bad looking lol!) But nevermind, I’ve met lots of nice foreigners & locals and I’m sure my husband will too. Just have to get to know people, and overall I think they’re pretty friendly here.

PS sorry it took me a few days to reply–I’ve been travelling and unable to hop online.

[Foreigners who fear other Foreigners] - Here’s an oldie but goodie (and related to your observation.)

I honestly never knew foreigners were suppose to acknowledge other foreigners. I see foreigners just like every other stranger in Taipei, no different than living in a big city back home. I usually have so much on my mind I don’t even pay attention to people around me. If a foreigner comes up to and ask for directions or something I for sure will help them out but I think its a bit silly to give another person special recognition just because they are not Taiwanese.

I can see your point, how people feel that it’s strange for foreigners to acknowledge each other simply because they’re both non-Asian. However, I don’t think it’s really an issue of nationality. Even the locals usually acknowledge me when we’re passing each other in an alley–a smile, a nod, or something! And back home I do the same thing to strangers on the street, doesn’t matter if they’re foreigners or not. If someone’s busy and just not paying attention, that’s one thing, but it’s strange when someone’s obviously trying really hard to not look at me.

Well I think we are enough of a minority group to acknowledge each others presence in this country so different from our own, however I guess after you’ve been here a while, you are so used to it that perhaps you begin to feel that perhaps its not needed.

I guess it also has something to do with that particular foreigners background. If you are from a large city back home, its probably less likely that people acknowledge each other and perhaps that same habit is brought back here and I have no problem with that.

Most locals will at look at me, some may even stare and wait for an acknowledgement, but I have noticed a number of foreigners that deliberately avoid eye contact. Perhaps thats normal where they are from, but I find it a little rude.

I live in Hsinchu/Jubie so I think the density of Westeners may not be as high as Taipei but still there are many. I usually don’t do much eye contact just because it is another Western person. Ok maybe if it is a beautiful blonde but unfortunately the density of that species is very very low.

So even if one would like to know other Western people, just being from the West is not enough. It bad enough to be trapped on an airplane for hours when the person next to you wants to save your soul or tell you their life’s troubles but at least you get off and escape

I think my fear is someone wants to become my new best friend just because they have no friends. Its probably worse the smaller the community.

Yea its always cool to help a “foreigner” who is lost or if I am in Jasons in 101 and a Westerner figures out I am buying real food and not attending a show/conference across the street and asks me “do you really live here?”

The only sad part is maybe I/you may pass another forumosa person who may not actually be all that boring of a person.

Since I wrote about 4hrs. I may now be easier to locate in Hsinchu. Maybe I will be the only Westerner walking around shopping and enjoying the beautiful weather today with ashes on my forehead. So if you see me you can make more than eye contact. Beautiful blondes especially !

If that was you last week sporting the dreads and the 2-week no shower look I

Just trying to prevent this from becoming :threadjacked:

There is a whole thread about “Foreigner Syndrome” or what I like to call “Hey, I’m white! Look at me-e-e (but don’t stare)!”. This ain’t it.

Anywho, to get back on topic…

I knew someone who spent three years living in Taichung (okay not exactly Sticks City, Taiwan, but not Taipei either) without knowing anything beyond “ni hao” for which she did the obligatory head bob to match the tones. If I didn’t try to speak Chinese in all my interventions with locals, I could probably get aware with being monolingual (although I would miss all the lovely cultural conversations I’ve had) and I am the only foreigner in my entire building and afaik, neighborhood…well, that being of the three apartment complexes of 12+ floors per building. The only foreigners I see, aside from the usual busloads of Japanese tourists at the jade shop nearby, are usually those visiting CKS Memorial, but I don’t hang out with people in my area anyways so it’s not really relevant as to how many there are nearby.