Sunday, July 20, 2014

Taiwan in a Nutshell

Unfortunately I am not as good at blogging the third go around in Asia. It does not help that I have tried to post this twice and it keeps getting deleted. Hopefully the third time will be the charm.

First I want to publicly say that I have the most amazing friends, I seriously could not have asked for better people in my life. The decision to leave America was not an easy one: Adam and Ashley spent countless hours with me processing this decision and the impact it would have on my life. All of my friends have been so supportive through they entire decision making process and I miss each one if them daily. I am so grateful for their continued love and support even through I am a few thousand miles away.

Let's start off with this girl. We've been through a lot these past two years: we've laughed a lot, cried a lot, and one of us has almost died choking on our own hair (I'll give you a hint, it wasn't me). I have grown to love her like a sister and I miss her every single day.

Then there are these guys... I do not think there are words in the English language to describe what they mean to me. They have had my back since the day I moved to Salt Lake; they have seen me at my best and also at my worst. I love that they know me so well they can answer any questions others may have ranging from my food preferences to opinions on gender roles. I love the dinner parties, movie nights, and BBQ's we've had over the years. I love that they will still talk to me even when my ugly cry is out in full force (which happened a lot the last week I was in UT.) Most of all I love all of the memories I have made with them over the past 7 years, including the BBQ they gave me the Sunday before I left. The weather was beautiful, the company was great, and the food was delicious. It was the definition of a perfect evening.

This next guy should deserve a medal for continuing to be my friend after I almost kicked him out of my car in the middle of Wyoming several years ago. I am so grateful for his ability to forgive me and my shortcomings. I would not have made it through my last day in America without him.

To say coming here was a difficult decision would be a major understatement. My last few days in America were especially difficult. I spent many hours in tears wondering what possessed me to ever make a decision to leave everything and move to a foreign country. Adam spent countless hours listening to me cry as I questioned every decision I had ever made. We spent many hours processing what would happen if I did not get on the plane and going over hypothetical situations about staying in America and finding a job instead. It is safe to assume that I did not act on those hypothetical situations (even though some days I wish that I had). Out of those conversations with Adam I was able to finally give myself permission to stay 6 months instead of a year if I felt I absolutely needed to be back in America. While I have not yet made that decision, I have decided to make the most of my time in Taiwan - after all it's not every day you get to live in a foreign country. 

In the short time that I have been here, Taiwan has already taught me so much. Here are a few snippets of my life the past three weeks:

First off - it is hotter than the inner circle of Hell. I have never been so grateful for AC in my life. I miss being able to pick an outfit based on style instead of based on how sweaty I will get that day and what will camouflage the sweat best. I miss being able to style my hair and have it stay. Much like my outfit selection, my hair selection is made based on functionality and not style, although with the help of Pinterest I have been able to add a few stylish hairdos to my repertoiré. 

Second- I knew I would really struggle with the food but I had no idea I would struggle this much. The first two weeks were so incredibly difficult, I only had one or two dishes I would eat (fried rice and mangos- not together of course). But as I spend more and more time here I find more and more dishes that I am willing to eat. So far my "safe list" includes: fried rice, homemade stir fry, frozen dumplings, steamed buns, mango or pineapple bing sha (ice drinks), shaved ice, roasted corn on the cob, taco salad, bakery goodies, Chinese pancakes, a lemon/winter squash drink with boba at the bottom, white rice, and a variety of crackers from the grocery store.

 My "hard pass" list includes: noodles in broth (it only takes one bad experience to ruin it), slimy flour concoction-that has the consistency of worms-in broth with pork meatballs (my Taiwanese friends bought it for me, I have never prayed so hard to finish a meal in my life), raw fish (I dry heaved on that one for about a week- now I just occasionally gag while discussing it), star fruit drink, meatballs, stinky tofu, chicken feet, oyster omelets, the list can go on and on and on but I think you get the point. And just for good measure here is a typical picture from the local night market.

Next are the kids I get to teach. I have two classes that I love- the first is a class where I sing at 2 year olds (yes AT not WITH) and despite their crying and inability to understand me when I say sit down they have already taken up a huge part of my heart, especially when hey come up and give you a huge good bye hug, or they wrap their little arms around you as you are holding them. The second class I love is the 8 year olds. The class has 6 boys and 1 girl and they love playing games. One boy has a pretty good vocabulary and he loves having conversations about sports and places to visit in Taiwan. My last class is slowly growing on me...very very slowly. 

One of the factors in deciding to come to Taiwan was that it would give me the opportunity to practice what I had been learning in counseling. It would give me opportunities to be vulnerable, trusting, and not defensive that I didn't have in Utah. I have to say that the group I am with is amazing and they have brought so much joy into my life. I am grateful for every single one of them and what I have been able to learn from them. (I am also grateful for their willingness to overlook my bitchiness the past week- why is week number 3 always so hard?!?).

Finally despite everything I miss in America, I am making a whole hearted effort to immerse myself into the culture. My goal is to speak conversational Chinese by the end of December. So far I know how to say "where is", count, and a few if my favorite foods.... so I still have a long ways to go.

We have been able to go to some really cool sights the past couple weekends but I am still waiting on a few pictures before I can post, hopefully it won't be too long. 

Finally I want to thank everyone who is reading this and has been a part of my life at sometime, whether it was high school, college, China, Hawaii, Cleveland, or Utah, you have all made a major impact on my life and I would not be where I am today without your love and support. THANK YOU!!!

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