Brendan: Bubble Tea 101
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Taiwan, etc.
I’m an Australian who decided to go travel around the world after spending years stuck in an office back home. After 12 months of visiting 30 or so countries I ended up in Taiwan and fell in love with the place, and I’ve been here for the last two years.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I had already started a travel blog during my trip around the world so it was an easy decision to start a blog about Taiwan once I arrived here. I think moving to a new country, especially one so different to the place you were born, is a topic that you can write a lot about.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Moving to Taiwan is probably the most useful entry, where I shared a bunch of tips from my experience – everything from what to pack, which airline to fly with and how to find an apartment. For funny posts, my favourite is the one where a restaurant owner got busted for eating a rare fish!
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?
There are countless differences between Taiwan and Australia, but I feel that it’s not too difficult to adjust as long as you can keep an open mind and not be afraid about trying new things – particularly new types of food! The language barrier was a big challenge at first but Chinese is a lot easier to learn than many people would think – three months of classes and you’ll find yourself learning quite a lot. One of the biggest differences about life in Taiwan is the cost of living – practically everything is cheaper here vs. Australia, even when adjusting for the differences in salary.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Taiwan? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I was far from fully prepared when I arrived, and if I had my time over again I would definitely make an effort to start learning Chinese before moving here. There’s also a bunch more stuff I’d bring along with me which is difficult to find here or more expensive than back home.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Once I was at the supermarket and a Taiwanese man asked if he could practice English with me. I said “Of course”, and he asked “Which country are you from?” After I told him I was Australian, he said “I’m sorry”, and walked away!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Taiwan?
Firstly, if you have the chance to visit for a short trip before making the big move, it might be a good idea to make sure it’s the right place for you. I would also say trying to learn some Chinese before you arrive here will give you a head start and make organizing certain things much easier (apartments, for example). Finally, make as many local friends as you can when you arrive here, otherwise if your friends are all foreigners your experience will end up being similar to life back home!
How is the expat community in Taiwan? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Taiwan’s expat community is great, particularly if you enjoy different types of sports there are many different expat-founded teams you can join. I’ve been lucky to meet a lot of like-minded expats over here, but I believe the expat community in Taiwan is a lot smaller than in some other nations in the region.
How would you summarize your expat life in Taiwan in a single, catchy sentence?
It’s truly been a blast so far and I look forward to many more years of enjoying my life in Taiwan.