Home away from Home

As an African American woman, one must factor in the knowledge of which places to travel to and which ones will be more difficult to navigate, especially if you are more or less travelling alone. Luckily, here in Taiwan, I feel that my identity is accepted and welcomed without second thoughts. Within Taiwan, western foreigners in general are small in numbers, and an even smaller section of that are African American. Despite western media having control of how the rest of the world views us, I believe that tolerance and acceptance of the unknown in Taiwan is very high. To many Taiwanese people, I am most likely one of the first African Americans they have seen in real life, therefore I have the ability to leave a wonderful first impression with them, regardless if it is my responsibility to do so or not. Many of my new Taiwanese friends are curious about my culture just as much as I am about theirs, so it is a wonderful opportunity for them to ask me about mine while I experience theirs. Because of this new environment, it is quite obvious to me the differences between how the US interacts with my culture and how Taiwan interprets it.

My roommate and Language partner.

Speaking specifically to being American, I believe that it has come with its own unpredictable perks. Some locals love the idea of America and being able to make friends that are from there because they would love to visit one day or just want to learn American English and slang to seem cooler to their friends here. It also gives us some points that we can speak mandarin very well, often leading to local Taiwanese becoming very happy and excited when we study and appreciate their language.

Bowling with new Taiwanese friends.

As the first person of my immediate family to travel this far, regardless of academics, I was prepared to deal with more stress and unforeseen challenges related to my identity than I’ve actually faced in the three months that I’ve been in Taiwan. Despite being this outlier in the majority, I believe that this experience has led me to embrace my culture even more and understand who I am as a person while giving me a sense of home away from home.

My roommates and language partner eating hot pot.