Ann-Katrin: AK-The Next Chapter
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Taiwan, etc.
I am Ann-Katrin, born and raised in Sweden but don't ask me where I have my roots - with family and friends spread all over the globe I am a world citizen at heart. I lost my heart to Taiwan 2012 and started to call it home 2013, after having left my last location, Düsseldorf, Germany.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I have always been writing about my experiences, sometimes though articles, sometimes my own notes, and also through blogs, but never public blogs before. When I decided to change careers and start learning Chinese I decided it was time to finally start a public blog, one where I could share my experiences – it became AK- The Next Chapter. The next chapter because that's exactly what I started: a brand new chapter of my life. While I always had a very international life and worked in an international environment, the move to Taiwan was my first outside Europe, and it is the first time I truly sailed away on my own.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I don't have a favourite post, I love Taiwan and every part and every post is as important to me. Of course I love getting reader feedback so I like to go back to posts that I learn touched people or helped them explore Taiwan or other travels.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Taiwan differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I have been on the road every month since I was a little girl and I did my first trip on my own when I was merely 15. What is back home? For me "back home" is now back in Taichung, Taiwan. Wherever I go there are some things that are different, other things that are just like I expect it. It is when I return to places I have been to before that I experience culture shock – I change and the places change, but we change in different ways and make new experiences. "Home" is always the place I live now, it can never differ from any "new" life. It IS my life.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Taiwan? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
Not a single one. Every decision I have ever made turned out to be the right one, even if I didn't always realise it at the time. Well, except once, when I was eight, and I decided to go home instead of having pizza with my friend's family. I still regret that, I am pretty sure it was a very tasty pizza...
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Life is full of them – the best way to hear about them is on the blog or via Twitter.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Taiwan?
- If you don't master your chopsticks, get some practice before you go. That's basically the only thing that really matters.
- That, and yes, a good mobile phone camera so you can photograph the street or the bus stop before you go. That’s the best (only?) way to find your way back until you have learnt some Chinese, especially outside Taiwan.
- Bring a smile; if you bring a smile all will be good.
How is the expat community in Taiwan? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Absolutely. It took a long long time. Probably a whole hour. I am a world citizen and I have an open mind, and I don't mind being on my own, that has helped me tremendously wherever I have been in the world, this is a life style. I don't see myself as an expat, I see myself as a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, and I try and find what I like about my new environment rather than finding similarities to what I left – if I wanted things to be the same as before I moved I wouldn't have moved.
How would you summarize your expat life in Taiwan in a single, catchy sentence?
As a travel addicted foodie, Taiwan will always have a piece of my heart – no matter where I am in the world.