Ever notice how life is full of contradictions? Like, the thing you love most about something is also the thing you like the least?
- “I love the early morning, but I hate getting up early.”
- “I despise cleaning, but I love my house clean!”
- “I love his energy, but I wish he would calm down!”
“Landing” in Taiwan… “Well, *some* things are the same.” (image: cartoonstock.com)
That’s exactly how I feel about Asia.
I grew up in a small town in Northern California. Everyone drives cars here and goes to supermarkets to buy their groceries. There is no night market, and no one sticks out here, no matter where they’re from.
Not so in Asia. As a blonde in Taiwan, I often felt like a celebrity. (“Hi! Hi! Can we take your picture?”) People drove scooters there and shopped markets that spilled from tiny stores onto crowded streets. Fresh slabs of meat hung in open-air stands. And let’s not even talk about the food at the night market!
Taiwan was so different from California, in fact, that I was often surprised to see the same stars there that I could see at home. Surely I was on a different planet, wasn’t I?
It was this difference that made adapting to Taiwan so difficult at first, but which made sticking it out so satisfactory in the end. When I couldn’t handle things on my own or had questions I didn’t understand, I had to rely on Taiwanese friends. This gave me insight into Taiwanese life and forced me to reflect, sometimes with startling effects, on my own long-held beliefs. (I.e. How much of religion is cultural? What is so great about the States? How could I not love a country whose people would bend over backward to help a stranger?)
I could tell story after story of how my Taiwanese friends helped me time and time again . . .
For now, I leave you with a question: When was the last time you were out of your comfort zone? What did you do? How did you cope? Did the overall experience harm you, or help you? What might be the benefit of getting outside of your own box?
farmers’ market in taipei
much more than language exchange friends
shilin night market in taipei—this happens *every* night
this is how you get *your* hamburger, isn’t it?
mmm. squid on a stick.