Hello, Taiwan! (你好台湾!)

In today’s travel culture, some countries have relaxed a little, and allow travelers to enter and leave as they please, despite the ongoing problem of Covid. However, Taiwan is not one of those places. My first 7 days in Taiwan were spent in a very nice hotel, situated in the middle of Beitou; a city just northwest of Taipei. Most of that time was spent people watching and speed-running through orientation over zoom. The view of the mountains also helped relieve some of my boredom.

The view from my quarantine hotel in Beitou.

We finally escaped our quarantine on September 1, which was also the first day of in person classes. I’m currently living with 4 other amazing students in an apartment off campus. Even though the commute to National Taiwan University is a 30 minute journey (including the subway), the location of our apartment is very convenient. We’re surrounded by the culture and language in a way that forces us to act as if we were locals; an experience that would have been watered down if we lived closer to the center of Taipei.

Our apartment is right above a hot pot restaurant.

The weather here is nothing I’ve experienced. I thought South Carolina had unbearably hot summers, but Taiwan’s humidity has it beat. Not only that, but it rains everyday. Everyone carries an umbrella here because the rain comes with no warning. Despite that and the heat, there is surprisingly not a lot of harsh sunlight, which is great for those who don’t like to wear sunglasses. Because of the humidity and heat, a lot of people wear linen type clothing or anything that flows.

This is how most women dress daily.

The main difference that I’ve noticed in terms of society, is how independent young people are, especially with transportation. There are even elementary school kids who walk to and from school by themselves with no problems. Another big difference, which is somewhat an inconvenience for me, is the wide usage of paper and coin money. In America, most people have transitioned to using debit and credit cards, but Taiwan is still big on using actual cash. I struggle carrying all of the coins. Hopefully, I’ll use them up buying nice souvenirs.