Six months

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Out my caged window
Tomorrow marks six months since I arrived in Taipei. In a way, I feel as I've come full circle. I've learned some Chinese, that's for certain, but I am left nearly as confused about my place in life as when I first arrived. My feelings on Taiwan are equally muddled: at the moment, I feel ambivalent towards the country. I am a little regretful about the way the past semester has gone; I'm well aware of the fact that I sort of "gave up" and "let myself go" after the first month or so ... I could have spent that time much more wisely, and taken full advantage of the fact that I am here, and not wherever my heart may lie. After all, one of my very favorite phrases is a Confucian one: "Wherever you go, go with all your heart."

The semester ends next week, and I leave for 5 weeks in Australia and New Zealand (combined) next week. Maybe this is the break that I need to clear my head, get away, return with renewed vigor. Who knows. My Australian friends keep joking that I won't want to leave (or is it that they think they won't want me to leave?), and a former co-worker has warned me about the "trap" that is Australia, and how many don't leave once they've experienced it.

I'm not afraid of this happening. I think that if it were to happen at any time, this is it. I am unattached, unemployed, unsure of what I want to do with my life.

The more time I spend outside my homeland, the more I feel both simultaneously American and transient. It's a contradiction I can't make much sense of, but I've become more and more aware of my Americanness and my Western preferences (in every way). But I've also gotten the sense that I don't need the United States, and it certainly doesn't need me. I've already developed an occasional craving for a hot meal, preferably with rice. This is an adaptation.

Oddly enough, the one thing I can't do here that I can do plenty of in the U.S. (and online, now that I'm here) is shop. I can't bring myself to wear any of the lacy, girly, bow-covered fashions that are now trendy here. I can't bring myself to buy American brands at international prices. I order online and have it delivered home, to be mailed to me along with more important things later on.

Temple at Sun Moon Lake
Mentally, I don't know if I could survive long here. The culture is just so different, in all the ways that matter to me. Women are still seen as delicate creatures, maybe even "secondhand men." Homosexuality is very much seen as "other" in a way that the U.S. has probably not seen in decades. Racism, though veiled, is pervasive. Shockingly so, to me. While it's rampant in the U.S., at least people tend to be embarrassed about it, which in a way says that they know it's not right. But here, among family and friends, racism is not shameful. Even among people who have spent much time in the U.S. Even psychology is only a burgeoning field, only taken more seriously in the past decade or so. Before, it was shameful to have depression and thus swept under the rug.

While I know I can't live here forever, the plan is to return after my trip and try to find a position teaching English ... or something. Like I said in an earlier entry, I don't feel I've learned all there is for me to learn here yet and it's not yet time to go home. Well ... I have 5 weeks to think about it, amidst jarring backdrops and turquoise waters.

On that note, it's Jordan Knight's birthday! I can still remember this day last year very clearly: the cupcakes I bought from Au Bon Pain, and carrying them home in cups. The way the living room looked in the late afternoon light. The past year has passed entirely too quickly and rather slowly at once, which I suppose is better than just one or the other. What fun I had around this time last year ... so many great memories. And hopefully many more great memories to come this summer.

... and for those Blockheads who might be wondering, yes! I will be in Australia at the same time as NKOTBSB. Our paths will cross in Sydney, and I'm hoping for an after party, since I missed out last year.

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2 comments

  1. 5 weeks in Australia? Aren't you lucky!! I want to visit there some day...
    Since you speak English, you will be unstressful! :)
    Hope you have awesome 5 weeks and can have plenty of time to think about your future.
    I also hope you will be able to meet NKOTBSB in Australia!!

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    Replies
    1. I do feel VERY fortunate to have the resources to take 5 weeks off and travel! And in Australia and New Zealand, no less. I promised myself when I started my last job that when I quit, I would visit Australia, so it seems the time has finally come. :) I will be posting all about that trip as well, of course!

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