A typical day in Taiwan started with me joining the daily commute to the office. Considering how many people are crammed into such a small island the MRT wasn’t too bad ; if my memory serves me right London underground is far worse in the summer. I then had a 10 minute walk in the heat and humidity, so by the time I reached the office my shirt needed wringing out. Nice!!!!!
Surprisingly at work everyone speaks Mandarin, which at times was really hard and very frustrating. Everything is in Chinese – the products I work with, the documentation and the people :oS My translator kept forgetting I didn’t understand the language and kept waffling on in gobbledygook. My colleagues laughed at my scribbles of Chinese characters as I took notes to try and understand how their systems works. It was certainly one of the most challenging jobs I have done.
Lunch was nearly always at a local restaurant, Zhuji. After my initial food shock, by the end of my time in Taiwan I actually enjoyed all the new and exciting delicacies. For starters we chose from a huge selection of side dishes to keep hunger at bay, followed by noodles or wantons in various forms.
Info: If you are visiting the Jianguo Jade and Flower Markets, Zhuji is very close on Renai Road, so I highly recommend you check it out. Especially if you fancy trying pig ears :oS Double bonus, they have an English menu.
It isn’t a myth, the power nap really exists. The first day, I thought the guy next to be was not feeling too well. However, I soon realised the whole office have an half hour nap at lunch time. My colleague thought it was pretty amusing that I have not had an afternoon nap since I was probably 5 years old; it is a custom they have been doing since they were born. I think if I nodded off at 12 I would be out for the afternoon zzzzzzz so I decided now was not the time to start snoozing.
The rest of the afternoon was much the same as the morning – me not really understanding much of what is going on :oS Yes it is hard working/living in a country that is so different to your own, especially if you are utterly as useless at languages as I am :oS However, it’s the best way to get to know a country and understand its culture. My colleagues in Taipei were lovely and showed me around their beautiful city, taking me to places I might not have seen as a tourist. The first weekend visiting Tamsui and my last weekend being treated to the Michelin star restaurant DinTaiFung to learn the art of eating dumplings.
So if you get the chance to work overseas, say yes, yes, yes!!!! I have been very lucky that my job allows me to work almost anywhere in the world, but if yours doesn’t don’t fret – there are plenty of other opportunities out there. You could always consider Teaching English as a Foreign Language (a skill that I got this year and hopefully I will get to use in the near future). Plus there are plenty of voluntary organisations allowing you to work where ever your heart desires to take you. Don’t be afraid of leaving your comfort zone, the wonderful experiences will far outweigh any discomforts.
Info: My temporary home whilst in Taipei was the Star Beauty Hotel. I highly recommend it, even go as far has given it 4 and an 1/2 *’s. It is in the mid range budget at $2300 TWD a night. The rooms are on the cosy side, but they serve a fabulous buffet breakfast that has something for everyone – whether your a veggie, a meat eater, wanting something Western or to sample a local breakfast. Location is great, it’s in a quiet area but only 5 minutes walk from Jianten MRT station and just a few more steps will lead you to the fabulous Shilin night market. And if that has sold it to you, the piece de resistance – rose petals in the toilet :o)