Taiwan 2013

By Confused Laowai | Date: November 13th, 2012 | Category: Taiwan

2012 is coming to an end (hopefully not the world!). I have completed my Master’s degree and have been planning the next steps for 2013 for almost a year now. I’ve always wanted to live in China. Actually soak in the language and culture I’ve been learning for almost five years. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve been motivated to keep studying and learning for all these years: I knew one day I’d like to live and work in China for at least a year.

My girlfriend, coincidentally, also finishes her degree this year. She also studied Mandarin and wants to visit China. The timing is perfect… but, after long deliberation and many discussions, we’ve finally decided to head to Taiwan instead (not that it’s a consolation!)

Why Taiwan?

The reasons are complex. Some of which are personal, but for the most part, it’s easier for both of us, especially finding jobs and getting visas. South Africa is not so gifted with visas advantages as other countries (I’m looking at you US, UK and Europe. Lucky bastards). Also the Internet is open, which as a digital citizen is a high priority.

I’ve been in contact with a few people who work and study in Taiwan and it sounds great. One of the other big reasons for choosing Taiwan was that quite a few Chinese bloggers and learners reside there at present (Chinese Hacks, En Route to FluencyHacking ChineseHorse Dragon Fish & iLearnMandarin among a few more on people on Twitter). I’m excited to finally meet these people who inspire me and have a few beers chatting about the Chinese language.

I’m also curious to expand my knowledge of characters into traditional characters.

Improve my Spoken Chinese

I’m embarrassed. My spoken Chinese is bad. I’ve got a big passive knowledge of Chinese and can read quite well, but speaking is way behind. It’s a part of the Chinese language that I’ve never really had to use, thus it never really improved. Now it’s trailing like rattling cans on a newlyweds’ car. Both my girlfriend and I want to go to Taiwan to improve our Mandarin. Try and make it as fluent as possible.

We will most likely get jobs as English teachers, as this is the easiest way to stay in the country without signing up at University (I’m over studying for now!). We’ll have to balance our usage of English versus learning Mandarin. I haven’t figured out my strategy yet, but I’ll find it (and blog about it) once I settle in.

I remember travelling in China last year, where the three weeks that I spent there, were some of the most fun and effective learning I’ve done.

Living Abroad

This will be my first time living abroad. I went to the same University where I went to school and have only travelled to other countries on maximum three weeks at a time. I’m scared and nervous, yet excited and eager. It will be an interesting experience and I’ll share some thoughts along the way. I’m seeing this as opportunity to not only improve my Chinese, but also grow personally. In saying that, I’m going to take all opportunities with open arms.

Besides I’ve always wanted to see more of Asia, so I’ll be using any spare time to travel outside of Taiwan as well. Japan is high on my list of places I want to travel to. Korea too!

The Initial Plan

We’re going to leave for Taiwan mid-December and will try and settle in Taipei. We’re planning on staying a minimum of one year.

If anyone has any advice or tips on Taiwan, jobs and living there, or just want to say “awesome man” then leave a comment below!

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  • http://twitter.com/zhongruige Greg

    Thanks for the mention! Looking forward to having you here, and we’ll find some time to meet up! If you have any questions, need help finding places to stay or anything at all, feel free to ask any time.

  • http://twitter.com/zhongruige Greg

    I should say you can contact me via Twitter (@zhongruige) or through email (zhongruige at gmail dot com). It seems I am not so original when it comes to user names…

  • http://niel.delarouviere.com NielDLR

    Hi Greg,

    thanks for extending the help. I can see I’ll like it there already! Now I’m getting doubly excited.

  • Elvis Xu

    Awesome man :D
    I am a Chinese living in china and I have to say that, Taiwan is also my ideal place to live in. Just share some of my expressions of Taiwan to you: Most of Taiwanese are quite generous and kindhearted; Taiwan has a great living standard, for its beautiful&comfortable natural environment and convince( traffic and 7&11 :P ) ; Food in Taiwan is well-known in China for its great taste; and so on. Though I only listed 3 points, but what I try to say is, you make a good decision.

  • Javier Altayó

    Maybe this online community might prove helpful:
    http://www.forumosa.com/taiwan/

  • http://niel.delarouviere.com NielDLR

    I’ve been lurking on forumosa for a while now. I tried to apply for an account, but they have such a strong spam system, that I haven’t gotten my account yet. I’ve emailed them twice already! The forum is epic though, if only I can find a way to log in. I’ll have to try again!

  • http://niel.delarouviere.com NielDLR

    Hi Elvis,

    thanks for the kind words. Yes, those all great things about Taiwan! That’s what I’ve heard about it as well. Excited to experience it.

  • Alexis Morin

    Sounds fun, I’m happy for you!

  • http://twitter.com/HackingChinese Olle Linge

    Yeah! Welcome! :)

  • http://twitter.com/myneonlullaby 黃愛玲

    Taiwan is a great place to live. Don’t feel bad about your Mandarin, Taiwanese are generally patient and understanding. I moved to Taipei cause my husband is from there. I will be going to Shida in December to improve my Mandarin. It’s true, it’s a great place to learn traditional Chinese characters. If you or your girlfriend has any questions, feel free to ask.

  • http://www.facebook.com/prachi.shan Prachi Tysh

    I am looking forward on reading what you write after you guys get to Taiwan.

  • http://www.peckishlaowai.com/ Peckish Laowai

    Great Niel. It’s fantastic news and such a wonderful opportunity. Once in a life time chance for you to take on an adventure like this. I wish you good luck and look forward to reading about all your adventures while you’re there. Alles van die beste vir julle!

  • http://chinaheritagewatch.wordpress.com/ Kelly M

    Good luck with your move to Taiwan! I have to admit that I didn’t really enjoy living there (I lived there for a year and on the mainland for a year when I was a student) but it seems I’m probably in the minority. Perhaps I was just living in the wrong place. I lived in Hsinchu (Xinzhu), which was not a particularly interesting or attractive city (my partner was sent there for his work).

    My Mandarin was often complimented but I somehow kept coming across people who didn’t speak it at all…which made things a little frustrating. If I’d stayed longer, I probably would have tried to learn some Hakka or Minnanyu just to make life a little easier. Whenever someone says that Taiwan is the perfect place to study Mandarin, I have my doubts…

    The food wasn’t too bad. Personally, I enjoyed the food on the mainland much more but you’ll never have trouble finding a quick snack and you must try some of the local fruit juices and iced fruit (great way to stay cool in the hot summer months). The night markets are perfect places for trying local snacks so don’t miss those!

    Travelling around the island can be a bit challenging if you don’t have your own transport. Perhaps things have improved since I lived there (it’s been a few years now) but the trains were quite unreliable and a lot of the key tourist sites around the island required a lot of planning ahead. You may need to get yourself a scooter or car if you want to explore the interior of the island as public transport to the smaller towns and villages was practically non-existent.

    I realize that this is a very negative view of Taiwan and, as I said earlier, I’m probably in the minority. Living there will still be an adventure and it’ll be a life experience. Not one I ever plan to repeat but there are people who fall madly in love with the place. Each to their own. ;)

  • Greg

    Good luck – if your date hasn’t changed, then it’s just days away before you fly off. I’m in Taiwan every 2-3 months, so I look forward to to at last being able to meet. See you soon …

  • Rexlee

    Hello Niel, Taiwan is a great place to live in. Just do not bother about the language. It’s pretty cool to learn Taiwanese Chinese but at times it’s quite more complicated compared to Simplified Chinese. (I speak on the Chinese Characters) Anyway, which part of Taipei are you planning to reside? I have been here in Taiwan for 4 months.. Here in Taichung which is a little bit far in Taipei.

  • http://niel.delarouviere.com NielDLR

    Hi Kelly,

    yes I do understand there can be some negative aspects of Taiwan, but I’m sure these things are everywhere in the world. :)

    I’m looking forward to it, so hopefully I’m not too rosy eyed, but I’m sure it will be fine.

  • http://niel.delarouviere.com NielDLR

    Hi Greg,

    yes, flying in two days time!

    Yes, when you’re in Taiwan, please email me. Would love to meet. Going to meet up with other learners as well on that side. Excited!

  • http://niel.delarouviere.com NielDLR

    Hi Rexlee,

    I don’t know yet. There are a lot of variables to consider: prices, distance from job, feel of area etc. So I’ll see when we get there and start finding jobs :)

  • Rexlee

    Okey, Now I understand.
    If you happen to have any question with regards to your stay here in Taiwan, please do not hesitate to ask me.
    I will certainly help you as much as I could..

    Thanks again..

    2012/12/11 Disqus

  • http://twitter.com/Benjameno Benjamin Irwin

    Hi Niel. I’m due to arrive in Taipei next week for essentially the same reasons you mentioned in your post . Best of luck finding work, and keep us posted — if you can’t make it, then I haven’t got a chance in hell!

  • http://niel.delarouviere.com NielDLR

    Hi Benjamin,

    I have a post in my drafts ready to be published soon. I’ve been in Taipei almost three weeks now. It’s crazy (and fun!), but I’ve been slow on hunting for jobs, but I did some more scouting today, actually went to schools, my prospects are looking much more positive. My girlfriend got really lucky and found a job within two days!

    You’ll make it, I’m sure.