Well, holy shit. It’s been a minute huh?
When I say minute, I mean like over a month, actually.
Sorry I haven’t been updating this thing as frequently as I would have liked lately (like you really care).
A bunch of shit has been going on lately… Namely, MOVING to Taiwan!
So if you hadn’t heard, my two roommates and I packed up our shit in Guangzhou and moved to Taiwan at the end of August.
It was a really odd feeling to be honest. Just as we made plans to move, a lot of things were falling in place for us back in Guangzhou. We had a solid group of friends that we established and were all pretty satisfied.
That being said, after three and a half weeks in Taiwan I can confidently say that the quality of life here is fucking fantastic!
I’ll give you a little run down of what we’ve been up to…
Carl and I arrived on August 31st and got settled into our temporary housing (hostel). We explored some parts of the city and just tried to get a little familiar with the area that we’re in. Our hostel is located in an area called Shida. It’s a very young neighborhood because of the nearby universities. It’s got tons of good food, a night market, shops, cafes and really anything you’d need.
Our third buddy Gary came a couple days after and we all went out that weekend to see what the nightlife is like here in Taiwan. We went to some expensive nightclub and I guess I could say that it’s nothing crazy. Basically what you’d expect from any nightclub in any big city—expensive drinks, loud music, drunk people, etc.
In comparison with Guangzhou, we just noticed that the crowd is much younger and more international. It seems that Taiwan is a super popular place to come to study. And it makes sense. It’s pretty nice here.
Learning Zhōng wén (中文)!
That first Monday I started an intensive Mandarin course that I’ll be taking for a month here. It was kind of interesting how they set it up. Since I had studied a little bit in Guangzhou they basically stuck me in the middle of a beginner class that two other girls had been in for a month. Kinda weird. I show up and we’re halfway through the book going over material that these other students had already covered. I felt pretty dumb for the first 3 days but I caught up pretty quick and I think I’m doing alright.
Funny thing is, the only other two students in the class finished their course after my first week so now it’s just a one-on-one class with me and the teacher. This has pros and cons…
Pros – I get full attention from the teacher and can really go at whatever pace I’m comfortable with. I can also discuss topics that I think are more interesting to learn and yada yada yada.
Cons – I get full attention from the teacher so I really have to have a ton of energy all class to keep it going. It’s a 4 hour class broken up in two, two hour chunks so by the end of it I am fucking destroyed, mentally.
All in all, the class is awesome and I’m learning a ton. I’m not going to be fluent or anything but I’m learning lots of new vocabulary and I can tell my pronunciation and listening is improving quite a bit.
One thing I realized—if it wasn’t already completely obvious with anything you work towards in life—is that you gotta be consistent with this shit. Like, you really can’t miss a day of at least going over some words or sentences or your brain starts to lose it. This leads me to the weekend following my first week of class…
Two friends from my home town were passing through Taipei as they came back from their vacation in Thailand. We met up with them on a Friday night for a couple of beers and just caught up on life. It was great to see some friends from back home. Coincidentally, Gary also had a hometown friend in Taipei so he met up with us too.
I had only planned to have a couple of beers and then go home so I could study the next day but a couple of beers turned into, “hey let’s go to a club” which then turned into drinking until 4:30am, which then turned into waking up at 1pm the next day still hammered. So lesson of the day kids, don’t drink until 4:30am if you’re trying to study Chinese. Because I didn’t study shit the next day.
Ultra Music Festival
That Sunday we went to Ultra Music Festival which was epic. Funny story actually, our initial decision to move to Taipei was after we realized that this music festival was going to be in Taipei. We bought our tickets back in July and then said, “fuck it. It’s not like we’re going to fly back to Guangzhou after we go there for a one day music festival.” So we can thank Ultra for getting our asses up and moving.
Ultra was just what we needed. It’s been way too long without any live music so it was good to go out, be in the sun, and get a little crazy for 9 hours. We showed up at around 1pm, and started drinking some beers (and whiskey) before we entered. We walked around a bit just to check out the different areas of the festival and met some really cool people.
One takeaway from the event is how much different Taiwanese people behave compared to the Chinese. They are outgoing, engaging, and super friendly. And to be fair, it’s not like Chinese people aren’t friendly but I guess the difference is that Taiwanese people seem less afraid to interact and engage in conversation or less afraid to show their emotion.
Anyway, we ended up drinking consistently for about 6 or 7 hours straight and were pretty riled up by the end of the night. We danced the entire time and looked like we had all taken showers by the time the show ended. I was absolutely and completely fried the next day. I think it actually took two or three days to recover but it was worth it. Those types of shows become addicting because of the people and the energy that you feed off of. Good times!
As we’ve been living in this hostel we’ve been on the web hunting for new spots to live. We have checked out two spots so far but both were very unappealing. I guess we got a little spoiled in Guangzhou because our place there was really quite nice and comfortable. Housing here is definitely more expensive but not too bad. I’d say maybe $100 more per month per person.
Also, we met another American guy here in the hostel named Ed who is really cool. He’s here to study Mandarin for the semester and he came to Ultra with us. We asked him if he wanted to live with us and he agreed so we’re going to be a four man spot now! It actually works out better because most of the 3 bedroom places we were looking at were really more like 2 person rooms that were converted for 3 people. The 4 person bedrooms are much more legit.
I’m sure all this talk about apartment hunting is getting you REALLY excited so I’m going to wrap this up and just give you some of my initial thoughts about Taiwan so far.
The food here is fucking amazing. They have so much variety and it’s all of such high quality. It’s also CHEAP! Just around our hostel you can get a full meal of amazing thai food, vietnamese, taiwanese, or korean for roughly $5. If you wanna go cheaper you can pig out at the night markets and eat fried chicken, dumplings, noodles, or soup for as little as $1.
The people are super nice. I already mentioned this above but I think it’s okay to say it again. Every single place you go here people are so friendly. We’ve had complete strangers come up and try to help us navigate when we were lost, the restaurant hosts smile and say thank you, the convenience store clerks always say hello, and on and on it goes. This probably doesn’t sound too crazy but after being in China for 9 months it is quite different.
There are tons of activities and things to do. First of all, they’ve got parks everywhere and all of these parks have pull up bars and jungle gym type of equipment so you can literally work out anywhere. Huge plus!
The other day we went to a rock climbing gym and soon we plan to go to a gymnastics gym and mess around in the foam pits, trampolines, etc.
It’s only been three weeks but I would say that we are quite happy here so far. I’d like to keep making more updates like this more frequently so I don’t have to download my life into one post for the entire month.
So, if I’m not too busy (or lazy), stay tuned because I’ve got some more of Taipei for you coming up!