Happy Lunar New Year everyone!  May the next year bring you good luck, good fortune, and happiness.  The year of the Rooster has begun.  Here in Taiwan, New Year's markets were in every neighborhood and schools are on winter break.  With the time off, I've been doing some much needed resting and relaxing, and reflecting.

In less than a week, it'll be six months since I departed America and moved here to Taiwan.  I can't help but think about how different some things were when I left, but also the type of person I was when I came to Taiwan.  Here are just some things, lessons, changes that I've realized have occurred in the short six months since I arrived.

1.  My tolerance for temperatures and weather has weakened.  Bless you, Taiwan and your warmth, but I'm pretty sure returning to the states where the weather is not as warm might send me into shock next time I visit.

2.  There's been a change in what I consider my personal staple foods.  American staple foods: grilled cheese, soup, macaroni and cheese, and coffee.  Taiwanese staple foods: dumplings, corn chowder, tea, curry, and bean curd.  Oh dear, if I ate like I did in college ever again, I'm not sure how long I'd last...

3.  Believe me when I say that I am definitely still working on it, but Taiwan has made me more confident.  I trust myself more and know that there will be challenges, but I can take whatever comes.  There's nothing that may happen in the future that the past hasn't prepared me for.

4.  I don't know how many times since coming here that I've been reminded of something from my childhood or of people dear to me back in the states.  It's insane!  But there's comfort in sitting back sometimes and clicking through old photos, listening to old music, or chatting up with friends and family.  It's your roots that make you who you are, and if anything, moving abroad reminded me that you can't ever forget where you came from.

5.  My students remind me of my siblings: at times, they can be witty, but deep down, they desire the same things: music, cute boys and/or girls, to have fun, and have as little homework as possible.  The people of the world are all the same, regardless of race, gender identity, sexuality, nationality, age, and any other label that defines a human being.  We all want the same things and need the same things: love, happiness, prosperity, and a lack of homework.

6.  Time is a funny concept to me, because honestly it never feels as though time moves the speed it should.  But time is one of the most important aspects of life.  We don't know how much time we'll have, which is why you make the most of the time you do.  Spend it with the people you care about, do the things you love, and be unapologetic in who you are.  Because honestly, at the end of the road, no matter how much time we're given, all that will matter is how gracious and how much fun you had, and how much you loved others.

That's just six things I can think of off the top of my head in terms of lessons or changes I have noticed since moving here.  And yet, I have a feeling after a year I will have more that I notice too!  Happy Chinese New Year everyone!  新年快樂 !  Until next time,

Marie