I’ve been in Taiwan for a little over a year now. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I’ve had many adventures and seen lots of awesome things. I’ve kept busy, making an effort to meet new people, travel to new places, and experience things I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do back at home.
But it hasn’t all been fun and games. Don’t worry. If you’ve been reading my posts, thinking to yourself, “Geez, Samantha. Is there anything you haven’t done?!?” -- Fear not! Here’s a list of things you have more than likely had the opportunity to do over the last 13 months that, sadly, I have not.
#1 - Drive a car.
It’s weird to think about, really. As Americans, we rely on our cars to take us EVERYWHERE. We are so lazy. I would sometimes drive to Alterra for an iced coffee because 5 blocks was just too far to walk. But here in Taiwan, things are more compact, and public transportation is convenient and reasonably priced. I walk to work; I take the bus and metro train into and around the city; I take a cab home late at night. It’s quite freeing. But I do miss rolling around town with my windows down, blasting my music and singing loudly, to the delight of the people next to me at the red light.
#2 - Use a clothes dryer.
Modern electric clothes dryers have only been around for 100 years or so (I googled it), and probably most people in the world don’t use them. So I know -- first world problem. But I never realized how convenient they are. Without one, I have to plan ahead my laundry chores so that I give my clothes a day to dry before I can wear them. And maybe it’s the air blowing in from the stinky creek outside the window here in Wugu, but I think my clothes smell better from the dryer. I miss you, Snuggles!
#3 - Eat real Mexican food.
While there are several attempts at Mexican food here in Taipei, nothing -- and I mean NOTHING -- on this island will satisfy the craving that has been building for the last 13 months. When I return to the States, I will probably give birth to a Mexican child from all the tamales, tacos, and horchata I will ingest. Meet me at El Rey, anyone??
#4 - Get really angry because things aren’t perfect.
You know the feeling: there’s a mile-long line at the grocery store. Better ask to see the manager to file a complaint. I shouldn’t have to wait. My time is very valuable. The service at the restaurant is lacking. Better ask to see the manager to file a complaint. I’m paying for this meal - it should be better. Where’s my refill? I asked for no onions!! Someone cuts you off on the freeway. Better speed up and flip that guy off. He can’t drive like that! I was in this lane first! Me first! Me first! I’m not saying that people in Taiwan don’t get angry. But seriously, the comparison is laughable. If you’d ever like a lesson in patience and acceptance that other people.... exist.... you should go shopping at Costco in Taipei on a Sunday afternoon. Approximately 8,000 people with huge shopping carts, politely navigating the aisles in a strangely orderly fashion. And no one seems miffed when they get up to the registers and realize they will be waiting at least 10 minutes to check out. Amazing.
#5 - Go on a date.
I don’t want to talk about it.
#6 - Watch a football game.
If you know me at all, you’re probably thinking, “But Samantha, you don’t like football. You didn’t even know what a first down was until AFTER spending your college years cheering on the Badgers at weekly games. You still have no idea what a ‘safety’ is.” And you’d be correct. I don’t care about football, or really understand the rules, but I will admit, there’s something about hanging out with your friends and family on a Sunday afternoon, eating chips and salsa, drinking a beer, and watching those player dudes run around on the field. Go team.
#7 - Tip.
That’s right - no tipping in Taiwan. Not waiters, not cab drivers, not delivery men. Sometimes restaurants charge a service fee, but even then it’s only 10%. And 10% of cheap is still cheap. So when I get back home, I think a nice tradition to start would be that whoever I’m with takes care of my portion of the tip. You know, to remind me of the good times I had in Taiwan.
#8 - Buy clothes that fit.
Not since before I lost 100lbs have I felt so fat. But the women here are small, much smaller than me. The first month I was here, I actually lost weight, so I went to the store to buy a new pair of pants. The sales girl measured my hips and waist, and then she said the three most horrifying words I’ve ever heard: “You need 3x.” WHAT?!? Like hell, I do! But I reminded myself that this is Taiwan, and I’m being held to a much thinner, shorter standard. So I chose a size 3x pair of pants, took them to the dressing room and tried them on. They didn’t fit. On the sunny side, I’ve saved a lot of money NOT shopping this year!
#9 - Eavesdrop.
Not being able to understand the language makes it quite difficult to listen in on other people’s conversations. I find it strangely comforting not being able to understand much of what is going on around me. It makes for a quiet world because everything becomes white noise. I’m not going to understand what’s being said, even if I try, so I can just tune most things out. This goes for signs and writing, too. I can’t read more than maybe 20 characters, so I can tune out most of the written world as well. It’s weird not being constantly flooded with visual and auditory information. Of course, this inability to understand also has a downside. Just read any of my other posts for some laughable moments when knowing the native language would have come in handy.
Yes, I am having an exciting and rich experience here in Taiwan. But there are some things I miss about home. So if you’ve done any of these things over the past year -- you win!