For my first full month teaching, September has been quite the month.  Over Moon Festival (also known as Mid-Autumn Festival), I explored Keelung with family and friends of mine while trying to avoid two typhoons that passed over Taiwan during that time, including the super typhoon Meranti.  More recently, my teaching friends and I explored the Taichung area.  We were able to find a mountain top that overlooked all of Taichung and Changhua, and then the next day we hiked till we were looking down over the palm trees.  And now, as I sit here writing, I am in the midst of a two day hideaway from Typhoon Megi, which has plagued day to day activities here and left the city I call home looking a little beat up.  Yet, the month hasn’t even come to an end yet.

In the middle of the plethora of adventures that I embarked on this month, my first training after the initial trainings occurred.  It was lovely to catch up with old fellow training friends, meet some new people, and learn just a little bit more information about teaching and life lessons.  Like the first training, culture shock was brought up again.  We were asked, for an assignment, where we thought we were in the process of culture shock.  Before that training and before the trip to Keelung, I probably would have admitted to being still somewhere in between frustration and acceptance.  I was making less of a fool of myself and slowly getting the hang of life here in Taiwan, so I definitely was past stage two.

Actually, if we are going to be precise, my weekend in Keelung affirmed this fact.  Our first day, we drove up from Taichung and met up with my friend’s family.  From there, we explored along the coast.  We took photos and they taught me all they could about the area: the history, the food, different sites, and everything else in between.  It was, without even being halfway through the first day, my favorite day here in Taiwan so far and soon to be one of my favorite weekends here.

Somewhere along our road trip along the bright blue Pacific ocean, we ventured up a mountain.  My friend, Will, said something about hang gliding.  Here’s how I know Taiwan has changed me: it didn’t take too much convincing to get me to agree to it.  But, unfortunately, once we got to the top, it was closed due to the second typhoon that would hit land the next day.  It wasn’t all disappointing though, because when we got out of the car, the view was astonishing.

As far as we could see, the Pacific surrounded the vibrant green landscape and the little ant sized cars and people below us.  Off in the distance, an island was placed perfectly beneath a rainbow that emerged from within the clouds.  Honestly, someone could have told me I was dreaming and I would have believed them!  We all grabbed our pastries from the car and sat down, eating and admiring the view.

I’m not entirely sure what it was–the place, the people, or the timing of the moment–but in that moment, I truly felt at home.  No feeling will ever replace the sense of comfort I get from my mom’s home cooked food, or being surrounded by family and our kitties, but that feeling of home was a close second.  To be surrounded by such natural beauty and with the wonderful people that I was with, maybe it’s no wonder that I felt that way.  As time passed, this feeling still has carried with me, even on days like today when I’m mostly at home hiding out from the weather. After the adventures of September thus far, I know one thing for sure: while culture shock might still affect me in the future, Taiwan has become another place I can call home. 

To read more about my previous adventures in Taiwan, check out my blog: murturtlearoundtheworld.wordpress.com.  

Published by Marie Soukup