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From New England to Taipei: My Neon Sign Lullaby

06 December, 2012 09:49  Erin Erin

My Neon Sign Lullaby I’m Eileen. I was constantly on the move while I was growing up, but a big chunk of my heart is in New England (Maine, Massachusetts). I’m actually not from England.

I’m currently living in Taipei, Taiwan. I’m starting my life from scratch as a foreign bride. I’m learning Mandarin; adapting on a beautiful island.

1. Why did you move abroad?
My husband found a job in his home country, I’m basically a trailing spouse. I figured I can make the most of it and take advantage of immersing in the culture to learn the language.

2. How do you make a living?
I will be a student in Shida and that will take most of my time. However, I do make little income through my artwork online. Taiwan has been inspiring me with my doodles. I’m grateful.

3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I mainly communicate with my family through email on a daily basis. I have a phone phobia and I think I got it from my dad. Honestly though, my hearing may have improved but I still find it hard to understand people on the other end of the line. Besides, texting is expensive. Email, it is!

4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Taipei?
The public transportation in Taipei is modern, clean, and easy to navigate. As a New Englander, I can appreciate that. Where I am from, everything is so spread out and you have no choice but to have a vehicle. It would literally take me 25-30 minutes to the nearest grocery store.

The 7/Eleven convenient stores are actually, well, convenient. You can pay for stamps, bills (like health insurance, electricity, etc), and refill your bus pass. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, I’m also all about their Assam milk tea (my favourite among all milk teas). It’s a plus for me.

I can’t stress this enough when I say that the locals are generally friendly to foreigners.

5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Taipei?
I’m thinking. Hang on. I’m still thinking. Well okay, I have nothing! I’m fortunate to have the life that I have in my adopted country.

6. What do you miss most?
I miss drinking Samuel Addams on draft (while being only a couple of hours away from the factory). I also miss New England Clam Chowder done right, Blueberry Ale, my Grandmother’s homemade cooking (like beef stew), eating fresh Maine lobster due to a certain relative who happens to be a lobsterman (cough), and the foliage in New England (although, you don’t have to be in New England to appreciate the foliage). There are other places in America where the foliage is just as pretty.

7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
Honestly? I meet wonderful people through my husband. I’ve met his classmates over hot pot. I found my favourite beer drinking buddy through him, as well, and her name is Ellen. I also went hiking in Waliu by being invited by my husband’s co-workers. What fun, that was! Hopefully, I will be able to make friends when I study in Shida.

8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?

I really don’t know how to answer this when nothing is normal and nothing is strange.

9. What is a myth about your adopted country?

Taiwan has a bunch of factories and still ship out cheap goods like in the 1980’s. There’s an episode of the popular 1980’s sitcome, “The Golden Girls”, where Dorothy sells her items to the pawn shop. Blanche attempted to boast about the value of her items till she read the fine print, “and it’s made in….Taiwan.” It’s not like that anymore. Taiwanese people are actually rather innovative and getting well-known through some of their products. For an example, their professional bikes.

10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?

In America, eating out is more expensive than eating in. Not so much in Taiwan. It’s actually the opposite and more convenient to eat out. While you may get paid more in America, but it doesn’t necessarly mean you have more of a disposable income. I feel like I have money to spare to actually do what I want to do.  The health insurance in Taiwan is amazing, as well. I can’t stress that enough.

11. What advice would you give other expats?

Do your research on the destination you’re interested in and learn the basics when it comes to the language. You can always bring your own menu that is in your mother tongue beside  the local dishes in the country’s mother tongue so you see if any of the items are sold in the restaurant you’re in. It’s okay to mess up and make a fool out of yourself when it comes to the language. You have to mess up in order to improve. I’ve learned quickly this way.

12. When and why did you start your blog? My Neon Sign Lullaby 2
I started blogging a few months ago to document my new life in Taiwan. I’ve realized I continue to blog just so I can reach somebody from the other side of the world, even though most likely I’ll never meet the person face to face. I can die tomorrow, but I left a piece of myself for someone to find. I am sure it sounds vain, but I don’t mean to sound like that. I secretly read thoughts of such fascinating people, and I’m glad they’re willing to share their thoughts to a random stranger. I never thought I could change from the inside out by exploring somebody else’s life on the world-wide-web. I’m such a fickle girl; I move like the waves of the ocean. I explode on impulse, but only ‘cause I feel like my entire body is a time bomb. I hope growing older means you become more wise. I need all the wisdom I can get with my weak palms. I want to explore till my legs can’t take any more and go out with a bang. I want to leave a mark just so somebody know I was here.
Blog LinkEileen's blog, My Neon Sign Lullaby

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