Living in a foreign country offers many unique and exciting opportunities. You get the chance to really get to know your new "home" a lot better than you would if you had just visited it for a week or two of travel. You will get the chance to see and do things that people who are merely visiting will never get the chance to do or see. You'll get to know and appreciate your host culture, discover new favorite foods, and have the best possible chance for succeeding in learning a foreign language. This sums up nicely my time spent in Taiwan.
It's not all sunshine and rainbows, however. As fun as it is living abroad, It can be equally frustrating. As often as I spend time talking about all of the things that I love in Taiwan, today I will be sharing my top 5 "complaints" about what has become my "second home". Enjoy, and as always please share your experiences/opinions below!
1. Random old guys backing you into a wall and forcing you into endless conversations:
I love a good conversation as much as the next guy, but sometimes it's just not a good time to chat me up. But this happens pretty often. You know that feeling you get when you are reading a really good book, intently turning the pages to see what happens next? I love reading, and always brought a book on the train ride from Taoyuan county to Taipei for my weekly martial arts classes. It's a great way to kill the time you are otherwise wasting in transit. Can't tell you how many times I've had a well meaning elderly man sit next to me and interrupt me every few seconds, even after I tried as tactfully as possible to disengage myself from conversation. The results? Me still on the same page ten minute later! This used to drive me nuts.
2. People don't understand your Chinese, because you look funny:
I like to think that I don't have a huge ego problem, but I know that my Chinese is pretty darn good. So it always annoyed me when someone didn't understand my fluent Chinese, because they saw me and expected English to come out of my mouth. It also used to drive me nuts when I was with my wife and someone kept asking her questions about me, even after I displayed that I was more than capable of speaking for myself. I know it's not meant to be rude, but it kinda is!
3. The lack of concern that many people have for the environment:
Of course this is getting to be a problem everywhere these days, but I felt it was more so in Taiwan than it is back here in Texas. True, the rapid rate of Taiwan's industrialization has had some negative consequences for the environment, but that's not the whole story. People throw their trash all over the place: streets, bushes, gutters, rivers…no place is safe! I remember vividly one time while I was waiting for my bus, an old man walked by me and casually shoved an empty pack of cigarettes into a bush. Seriously, go hard is it to find a trash can?
4. The casual rudeness that people often display:
In the big, metropolitan city of a Taipei, people are conditioned to lookout for themselves, and to disregard others around them. When you're in a crowded street, or MRT station in Taipei, you will get shove, pushed, stepped on, elbowed, and much more. Some of this is, of course, due to the dense population, unavoidable. What I don't like, is how the majority of people won't even give you a simple "excuse me" when they jab you in the kidney as they squeeze by.
5. The crazy traffic!:
This one is pretty self explanatory. There are countless cars, and especially scooters in Taiwan, and only a limited amount of space. This leads to heavily congested traffic, a scarcity of parking spaces, an extremely high rate of deaths on the road(especially for those riding scooters) and generally chaotic streets everywhere. To top it off, people generally have very little regard for the laws of the road, , which makes it doubly dangerous, for drivers and pedestrians alike.
There it is. I'm glad I got that off of my chest. Now, don't take this post the wrong way. For everything on this list, there are at least a hundred things I have to say that are positive about Taiwan. I love Taiwan, and it really and truly is my "home away from home", but I'm here to give you the whole story, and sometimes the truth is ugly!
What has your experience in Taiwan been like? Please share below!