WARNING: If you’re averse to reading about other people being happy, STOP NOW!
Now that that unpleasantness is out of the way…
I think I’ll position this post more as an encouragement for others to make the move rather than just me gloating about how much I’ve enjoyed living in Taiwan. If anyone out there is considering their own move overseas (maybe to Taiwan?), perhaps knowing how it’s worked out for me so far may help to calm your nerves.
November 3, 2011 was the one year anniversary of my arrival in Taiwan. All in all, I think it was a success on a whole bunch of different fronts:
The Chinese Front
I came to Taiwan not able to understand spoken Mandarin Chinese without first translating it in my head first. Formulating complex sentences was beyond me. After 3 months though of daily use with Taiwanese friends, I was able to understand spoken Chinese without translating word for word in my head. Reading and sending text messages in Chinese had become second nature.
After 6 months (the last 2 months of which I was enrolled in Mandarin classes), my Chinese grammar ceased to suck and my working vocabulary (words that I’m able to use on a daily basis without running for a dictionary) had increased exponentially. At this point, I’d guesttimate it continues to grows at around a few characters daily. It would grow a bit faster if I dedicated more of my time to studies.
The Business Front
Contrary to my initial fears, my businesses have not withered and die with me over here but instead have continued to grow with new Website On-Demand Clients signing up monthly.
Being in different time zones (12 hours apart!) has decreased my availability for Client calls and emails which is still something I struggle with, however the hiring of a new phone technical support rep will hopefully alleviate much of that difficulty. This particular challenge is tied to an important goal of mine: making the day-to-day operations of the business not reliant on my on my direct involvement. I’m not there yet, but I’d take it as a significant sign of progress if the business was able to continue delivering a great service without my direct, day-to-day involvement.
The Money Front
Things are very affordable in Taiwan. Clothing, food, travel, rent, etc in Taiwan is all half the price of less of the equivalent back in Canada. For me, this has meant being able to save more money than I otherwise would have if I was back in Canada. At the same time, I’m able to do things I wouldn’t normally do back home like travel every month or two, eat out every meal, etc. Living in Taiwan has been great for the pocketbook!
The Travel Front
In the past year, I’ve been to HK three times, Shanghai once as well as all over the little island of Taiwan. I haven’t done as much travel as I’d like, but this is still a lot more than I normally do living back home. For the coming year, I hope to:
1. Do a lot more international travel starting with a two week trip to India in January with the fabulous Jaclynn Joseph.
2. Do a lot more “outdoorsy” type stuff like hiking, rafting, etc and basically just getting out of the cities more to the smaller villages and islands surrounding Taiwan. Taipei, Kaohsiung, etc are all great, but I think seeing a bit more of nature would do me some good. To kick off this goal, I should be hiking up XueShan, Taiwan’s second tallest mountain, next month with Taipei’s 523 Mountaineering Group.
The Personal Front
I’ve been able to reduce my working hours a bit, and out of this have come a few positive developments including:
1. I’ve started practicing sketching.
2. I’ve started working with new technologies (just for fun.) For example, I’ve been having fun with Twitter and Delicious APIs using Python. I’ve also been trying to get in a bit more gaming time as well. It’s good to remember sometimes that computers aren’t just for work!
3. Armed with my Kindle, I’ve been reading like crazy this past year. In fact, I’ve probably never read so much in my entire life. After setting up Kindle Feeder, I’m now able to get all my favorite blog updates delivered to my kindle too!
4. With a gym right behind my house, I’m able to go 4-5 times a week. I can’t say I’ve slimmed down a whole ton, but my body fat percentage is slowing going down. I’m scheduling the development of visible abdominal muscles for sometime in the new mid new year… it’s good to have a dream right?
**UPDATE: I absolutely need to mention the great new friends I’ve met here – both fellow foreigners and locals 🙂 Work and study are great, but life can get a bit dull without interesting, passionate friends around to keep things interesting and share in life’s little surprises with.
For the Next Year
I have a few resolutions for year two here in Taiwan
1. Continue with my Mandarin studies.
2. Grow my new website, StudyChineseinTaiwan, into something profitable and lively.
3. Visible abdominal muscles …
4. Travel more inside Taiwan. I still haven’t explored the east coast as well as the surrounding islands like Green Island, Orchid Island, etc.
5. Travel more outside Taiwan. Okinawa and Seoul would be fun to see in addition to my trip to India in January.
6. Grow my businesses! Working on my businesses rather than in them is something I derive a great deal of joy from, and for year two I plan on both increasing sales AND increasing service quality. The physical distances helps to make the distinction between working on and in the business a bit more prominent. (For anyone new to that distinction, check out this uber-popular book on how to run a small business: The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It).
COMMENT BELOW! Anyone else thinking of moving abroad? If so, where and to do what?