9 Questions About Living Elsewhere

1. Where did you live and for how long?
France: 1 year; Taiwan 1.5 yrs.

2. What made you decide to go there?
Romantic notions; Naive belief that exotic locales would fundamentally alter my personality

3. Did you have to lie to enter the country?
No, sort of. In Taiwan I said I was a student and paid a "school," which I never attended. This was common practice. The whole institution was set up with this kind of expediency in mind. I suppose in a way I lied to be in France also. I borrowed student loans saying I was going to work on a thesis/dissertation project, which I never did do.

4. Were you/are you legal? Plan on becoming so?
Yes, being legal in Taiwan involved the subterfuge described above and leaving the country for a "visa run" every three months.

5. How did you/do you make money? Did you go there with a job or have to find one?
In France lived off of student loan money. In Taiwan taught English in a cramped apartment-cum-school. I was often feverish since I was always catching the childrens' colds and was there 10 or so hours a day.

6. Was housing easy/difficult?
Housing was easy fortunately. I did have one terrible experience living in a rooming house/group living situation in Taiwan owned by a heroin dealer. I was the only woman and the other men were mostly American or Taiwanese or, in one case Burmese. At one time or another, (with one exception) each of them visited my room late at night requesting sex.

7. Was the language a problem?
In France no. In Taiwan most definitely.

8. Favorite things/worst things about the place?
So hard to say. In France liked myself. Fact that I had to change who I was slightly since I couldn't say the same things about myself that I usually do (translation not perfect, you know). Hated the conservatism. Yes conservatism. The country is proud its history and the cost of living is so high that people tend to innovate (take risks) very seldomly.

Taiwan liked the weather, food, strangeness of it. Hated being instantly recognizable as a Westerner. Hated the mosquitoes, ideal of women as quiet, docile, etc.

9. Any good stories about it or advice for others following?
See above.

 

- Heather DiLeo