I’m currently living in Japan (Kyoto). It’s okay in a lot of ways, but I’m thinking of moving to Taiwan for a number of reasons:
- I love studying (Mandarin) Chinese. The grammar seems pretty straightforward and there’s no keigo (mindless, formulaic polite speech) like they have here (afaik, anyway…).
• It’s impossible to “be accepted” here. I’ve been here for a few years now but, as you may know if you know anything about this place, foreigners always have outsider status. No-one ever encourages you to stay, they only ask when you will go “home”.
• Believe it or not, I don’t get a chance to use (or encouragement to use) Japanese. I teach English all day (at different jobs) and when I go out, the only people that attempt to overcome their overwhelming shyness barrier want to speak English. If I force 'em to speak Japanese, they won’t correct my errors. My years of study seem like a waste of time.
- It’s effing cold here in the winter and crazy humid in the summer. Houses don’t have indoor heating or cooling, only expensive units aimed at a small part of the room.
So, I have a few questions for the long-termers / those in the know:
• If I move to Taiwan, will I actually have a chance / encouragement to use any Chinese I have learned? I have read a lot of posts here saying that a lot of people try to get you to only speak English… what do you think?
• I have been to China, and loved a lot of things about it but the pollution and the spitting were killer so I decided not to move there - how does Taiwan fare in this regard?
• According to Wikipedia, “The northern part of the island has a rainy season that lasts from January through late March during the northeast monsoon, and experiences meiyu in May. The entire island experiences hot, humid weather from June through September. The middle and southern parts of the island do not have an extended monsoon season during the winter months. Natural hazards such as typhoons and earthquakes are common in the region.” So, it sounds just like Japan, but warmer. I love tropical weather! Is the humidity unbearable, though?
- As far as work, I currently work from 3-6 different jobs (teaching English, natch). I usually teach adults, sometimes business English. I work from 3-6 hours a day, almost every day. Can I get a similar (or better!) situation in Taiwan? I don’t want to teach kids if I don’t have to.
• I saw a doc about foreigners living in China, and their living conditions were not exactly top-notch. This place here in Kyoto ain’t exactly the Ritz (2-3 Twinkie-sized cockroaches per year), but there’s at least a modicum of privacy and a reasonable amount of space.
• It seems that, due to the high number of foreigners there, there is an availability of foreign food? There are 3 “foreign” food shops here in Kyoto, so I can buy chili, beans, Mexican, etc. There are similar shops in Taipei, right? 80% of the time Chinese (or Japanese) food is ok, but I need some spaghetti or whatever once in a while.
Anything else? Suggestions, comments, criticisms, opinions, etc. welcomed.