Three months

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Taroko National Park
I've now officially been in Taiwan for 3 full months. My first semester of my Chinese language program is now drawing to an end as well, and soon I will have to bid goodbye to some of the greatest friends I've made in a while.

Thoughts after my third month here:

1. Taiwan needs voicemail
Believe it or not, cell phone service here does not include voicemail, just missed call alerts and text messages. So in order to "leave a message," you basically have to send a text message or call until they pick up. I find this pretty irritating and wish it weren't so!

2. Taiwan needs more dryers
For some reason, very few households own dryers, though they certainly own washers. Dryers are, in my opinion, more of a necessity than washers themselves because of the humidity here. A pair of jeans can take two to three days to dry if you have a string of rainy days (which happens very, very often), and a sweatshirt is nearly impossible to dry properly!

3. The scenery, it's not all that impressive
I've mentioned this in several of my trip/travel blog entries already, but the more of Taiwan I see, the less impressed I am. I'm sure this sounds snooty to an extreme, but Taiwan is a small country and its landscape is definitely very understated. Or overstated, depending on how you want to think about it! Coming from a place as big and diverse as the United States, it's definitely difficult for me to appreciate a pile of rocks or a particularly gnarly tree. Anyway, after this semester, I'll probably be focusing more on international travel rather than domestic.

4. Facilities and hygiene
Not to say that the Taiwanese are not hygienic, but like some other countries, they have the habit (or rule) of not flushing toilet paper down toilets. This bugs me. A lot. And this is when there are even seated toilets available ...

5. Safety
Safety is nowhere near what it is in the U.S. or most of the European countries I've been to. You can be walking down a wet, uneven staircase made of stones on a mountainside and feel that if you were only to trip on a loose shoelace or a rock that jutted out a half inch too much, you'd go flying -- then rolling -- down the rest of the mountainside. There are no banisters or handrails. All of it screams "lawsuit waiting to happen" to me. I guess, from another perspective, the U.S. is too politically correct and too outrageous with its lawsuits.

Those are my new "discoveries." I can't say I really miss the U.S. as much as I thought I would, but I miss American ideology. Overall, the more time I spend here, the more I realize that I cannot live here forever. In the past 5+ years, nearly everywhere I've been has been a place I've been able to picture myself living in. Granted I've hardly stayed in any of these places for more than 2 or 3 weeks at a time, so maybe it's not quite fair to compare, but the more I see of how different Taiwanese and American cultures are, the more I know I prefer the way the Americans live.

Maybe next month I'll have something positive to add about Taiwan. :)

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