It was just like the movies.
I arrived in Taiwan tired, a bit nervous, and probably smelly from 24 hours of travel. I had of course over-packed, which only added to the comical nature of my struggle to get my bags off the conveyor belt and onto the cart. After using all my remaining strength to hoist the 150lbs of luggage into a precariously teetering tower of totes, I headed towards the exit of the Taipei airport.
I was told that the director of my new school would be waiting for me at the airport with a sign with my name on it. As I rounded the corner past customs, I was bombarded with a group of at least 50 people all holding signs with names on them. My only hope was that I, as a very pale, 5-foot-11-inch redhead, would stand out from the crowd enough for my director to spot me. There was no way I was going to find my name in that sea of signage.
Then I heard it -- the most wonderful sound any foreigner who does not speak or read the language of the country could hear -- people yelling my name! I scanned the throng of eager friends and family members waiting for their loved ones and landed on a large, poster-sized sign proclaiming, “Welcome Samantha! Shane English School.” Gathered around the sign were my school director, her husband, and three girls who also teach at the school.
Honestly, I teared up a little. The emotions conjured up by this simple moment I could only compare to the way I felt after finishing my first triathlon. The successful and highly anticipated end to an intense journey that I had worked so hard to reach.
Except, this wasn’t the end; it was only the beginning.