Isabella and Samuel: Stuck! in Taiwan
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Taiwan, etc.
We’re Chinese born Indonesian who ended up pursuing graduate degrees in Taiwan. We arrived in Taiwan in 2010, spent 2 years for study and continued working here ever since.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
We chose Taiwan because we thought we are “Chinese” and so there would be no problem blending in and adapting. We soon realized it was not the case. However, we tried our best to enjoy our life here. We saw a lot of foreigners face similar problem, hence in 2012 we started to share our experiences through blogging to hopefully help them in some way.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Our favorite blog entry is our first post about our first trip to Sun Moon Lake and Taichung. You can learn about it more here.
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?
We experienced quite a bit of culture shock due to our lack of Chinese proficiency. On the other hand we found out that Taiwanese are so nice and friendly that even with our limited Chinese, they still patiently wait and attend to us.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Taiwan? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
The weather was one harsh thing welcoming us just about few months after arriving. Winter here in Taiwan is unfavorably wet and humid. Although the temperature does not hit below zero, the strong wind and rain sometimes do make it hard for us to start the day. As we cannot do anything about the weather, probably it will be nice to be able to escape the winter here? :P
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
We always find it funny when Taiwanese regards us as part of them. Yes we are Chinese, but we don’t speak fluent Mandarin, or at least our accent is a bit different. Most of the time when they finally realize we are not Taiwanese, they will question whether we are first from Hong Kong, second Singapore, or last Malaysia; sadly nobody guess correctly that we are Indonesians.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Taiwan?
- Try to learn basic Mandarin; it will come handy if you can say “this” and “how much” (also catch up on words to customize bubble tea is an additional point – you’ll thank us later ;))
- Train yourselves to bring a water bottle and an umbrella wherever you go
- Almost every restaurant only provides chopsticks – Taiwanese are used to using chopsticks even to eat pasta.
How is the expat community in Taiwan? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
There are a lot of expat communities, especially in Taipei. If you happen to be in a hard time, just go to NTU (National Taiwan University) and you will find a lot of foreigners mingling there.
How would you summarize your expat life in Taiwan in a single, catchy sentence?
‘A long stranded fun life on a beautiful island’