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!