The Life in Taiwan series is part of our regular features about real teachers genuine experiences living abroad.
You’ve done it. You did the interview, you got the job, you’ve booked your tickets, and now all that’s left to do is to actually go. As you fall asleep the night before the big day comes, those age-old questions start swarming around your head. ‘Will I make friends?’, ‘Am I going to be a good teacher?’, ‘What happens if nobody speaks any English and I literally starve?’, ‘Am I even going to make it out of the airport at the other side?’. These are perfectly valid questions to be asking yourself when you decide to up everything and move to a different country, although all seem silly in hindsight. The thing is, of course you’ll make friends, of course you’ll find food and if you do stay at the airport too long then someone is sure to escort you out eventually.
Arriving in any country is disorienting to begin with. Taiwan is no exception, not least because you’ve most likely swapped familiar streets with ones bombarding you with bright, flashing Chinese characters, odd smelling food stalls and scooters threatening to knock you down with every step. (All that starts to feel a little familiar too with time. One day, you might even find yourself walking down a street without scooters and miss the thrill of having to navigate them with your life intact.)
Experiencing culture shock? This may help.
Once you get past that initial disorientation, what quickly strikes you about Taiwan are the friendly faces. You’ll realise almost instantaneously after stepping off the plane, that people here will always go the extra mile to make sure you’re happy. Within moments of getting lost and looking confused, again, some pleasant Taiwanese person will have wandered up to you, pointed you in the right direction and offered to take you out for some traditional Taiwanese food that night.
True story. My first day in Taiwan, this exact thing happened and consequently, I now have a friend that I regularly go hiking and eating with – emphasis on the eating part because the Taiwanese really do love their food.
As far as transitions go for moving to a new country, Taiwan, for me, was incredibly smooth. In spite of all the unfamiliar street signs, the language barriers and the initial ‘what on earth are they eating?’, the fact that people here go above and beyond to make sure you’re comfortable is the most striking thing about this country and it’s pretty much impossible to miss.
Are you ready to take the leap? Teach English in Taiwan
Want more articles like this one? Check out our Teaching Jobs Abroad blog.
About the Author
Ella Watson is a teacher at Shane English School in Hsinchu, Taiwan. She is also a freelance writer who shares her travel experiences with the world.