5 Reasons for you to spend a year (or more) abroad in Taiwan.
1. Mandarin is THE language to learn, and with over a billion people in the world who speak it, learning even just basic Mandarin will open up a lot of doors for you, especially with Mainland China's economic growth in recent years.
2. Taiwan is a safe place to live with a rich cultural heritage. On top of that, the locals are very friendly, and welcoming of Westerners. The people will take care of you and help you out however they can. Whether you are having trouble ordering food at a restaurant, or finding your way around, the majority or Taiwanese are very approachable and willing to help you out. Many Taiwanese are also very interested in learning English and about Western culture, so don't be surprised if random people approach and befriend you. This makes Taiwan an ideal place to pick-up a second language and to learn about a fascinating culture that has been around for thousands of years.
3. Convenience is paramount in Taiwan, and public transportation is excellent. Taxis are cheap, buses run late and to practically any destination you could possibly have in mind, and the MRT system makes getting around Taipei(and now Kaohsiung) very easy. And there are plans to further expand the MRT system, which will eventually run all the way from Taoyuan international airport to Taipei city. Usually in North America, when we say a place is nearby, we mean 5-10 minutes by car. In Taiwan, distances are usually measured by foot(except in the county, where having a set of wheels becomes more necessary). When I get hungry, I just walk downstairs and have a ton of options in the neighborhood, not to mention 7-11 around the corner and the night market just a little further down the road. More on night markets in a future post.
4. Taiwan is a great place for nature lovers. Whether you feel at home surfing or just chilling at the beach, or if a hike through majestic mountains is more your thing, rest assured, there're plenty of amazing places for you to explore. I'll expand on this topic in a future post, but I'll leave you with a few pics of some of my favorite destinations: Penghu and Hualien.
5. It's a fruit lover's paradise. Taiwan has a ton of unique fruits which are either uncommon or unheard of in the USA. A few of my favorites are bājiāo(八蕉), a type of short, sweet banana, huǒlóngguǒ(火龍果) or dragon fruit, and shìzi(柿子) or persimmons, but this topic really deserves a future post of its own. Easy access to a variety of fruits and fresh juice stands makes it easy to get a healthy snack on the run!
Chinese phrases of the day:
bājiāo(八蕉)= a type of short, sweet banana
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