Leaving Taiwan

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I will miss:

1. The people, foreigners and Taiwanese. The sweet tutoring students and their parents that gave me the benefit of the doubt.

2. Cheap produce, fresh tropical fruit and vegetables available at a reasonable price to everyone in every corner of the city.

3. So many transportation options:  bicycle, scooter, subway and motorcycle. Timely trains and cheap taxis all over the island.

4. Affordable rent.

5. Drinking alcohol in public with friends.

6. Having helpful policemen, instead of scary might-shoot-you policemen.

7. Finding a new job relatively easily and quickly.

8. Cheap healthcare for all.

9. Cheap shoes and handbags, easily bought and just as easily disposed of.

10. My expatriot traveler friends who support me in my adventures with suggestions and well wishes. I’ve never had such an incredible support system.

11. Having leisure time to pursue other interests and personal growth.

12. Cheap repairs and handymen.

13. Cellphone plans and mechanic services that won’t break the bank.

14. Clean and prolific public parks and campsites.

What I won’t miss:

1. The food; oily, over sweetened and usually brown and mushy. And funky salty drinks and desserts.

2. The racism, while not malicious, still a great show of willful ignorance of other cultures in the world.

3. The pollution: air and water.

4. Mandarin tones and never being able to adequately express myself and therefore treated like a helpless child.

5. The idea you should spend your whole childhood and young adult life in a classroom or at work.

6. Being stared at in the subway, supermarket, on the street and whispers or shouts of “outsider.”

7. Not having enough public interest in a variety of music in order to encourage outside touring groups to pass through.

8. Having to explain where I’m from, why I can’t speak Chinese and how much I love Taiwanese food out of polite obligation.

9. Terrible patched-up plumbing, trash pickup schedules and nosy neighbors.

10. Fire. Firecrackers set off at dawn on a Saturday. Ghost money burnt on the street choking the whole area with smoke.

11. Natural Disasters. Typhoons, flooding, earthquakes, rip tides and crippling humidity.

12. The constant smell of decay and war on cockroaches.

13. The lack of sidewalks and slippery marble tile shop entrances.

14. Riding a scooter in the rain.

15. How doctors act like you’re crazy for having a checkup and try to rush you out the door.

16. How difficult it is to build friendships of mutual reliance when everyone shows up late.

17. Trying and failing to date in a society that rewards quiet, weak and reserved women.

18. Being told I wear a large everything in clothes when I’m clearly a small on top and a medium on bottom.

19. Having 80% of your friends be foreigner men who turn into alcoholics because they can afford to, and the Taiwanese girlfriends that assure them their behavior is socially acceptable.

20. Only having two career options available to you: teaching English or making food.

21. Squat toilets and a lack of toilet paper and soap in the public bathrooms.

22. That nagging sense you will never belong so you ought to move on.

23. Having it assumed that I cannot order my own food, because I am a white female in a restaurant with a man and/or a Taiwanese person.

24. Everyone I know smoking cigarettes because it is cheap, and choking on smoke while dancing or out listening to music.

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