The following is Teacher Joanna’s reflection on her teach abroad experience.
The last place I ever thought I would call a home is Taipei, Taiwan. I am originally from the midwestern hub of Chicago, Illinois but have spent a significant portion of my academic and professional career living outside the United States. I have lived in Spain and South Korea and traveled to more than 25 countries, yet, there I found something different in Taiwan. Taiwan is special; it is an overlooked gem in the heart of Asia.
Prior to my stay in Taiwan, I was working as an English Teacher in Daegu, South Korea. I had taken a brief three-day trip to Taipei on a spontaneous travel whim. It was pleasant, but I was not blown away. Throughout my travels, I had experienced a grab-bag of emotional, heart-stirring encounters upon first contact with a new place. I had gazed upon the splendor of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul and wistfully dined with a baguette and cheese picnic in front of a lit-up Eiffel Tower. I had stood above the world in the icy mountain tops of the Swiss Alps in Zermatt and stayed in a bungalow on the Gili Islands in Bali, a bike ride and ten coconut trees away from a stunning ocean view.
So what convinced me that Taiwan was worth a long term chance, you might ask?
At first, the attractive job offer at BGL‘s Tsai Hsing School. The allure of adventure and accessible travel to other places was hard to pass up, with an all-inclusive offer of excellent pay, adorable children, and perks like free accommodation and roundtrip flight bonuses.
Accepting that offer led me to one of the happiest, most fulfilling experiences I’ve encountered in my life’s journey thus far – and yes, even amidst that large grab-bag of “Instagram-post-worthy” emotional travel whims.
After a first impression, the true joy in Taiwan is the journey of its discovery: the people and the hidden gems that reveal themselves when you really know and understand a place. I didn’t fall in love with Taiwan because of a short-fleeting, lustful “one night stand;” I fell in love because I put in the work to have a long term relationship with it, work that is required to reach true understanding.
Taiwan is more than a short-term study abroad destination or a brief stopover on the way to another city. The friendly people, luscious greenery, unending hiking trails, mountainous beach towns, diverse food tastes, vibrant art scene, bustling night markets, and local festivals make this country a place you can actually stay. Taiwan perpetuates a value for life, one that simultaneously upholds its unique traditions while openly embracing all the innovation and progress that define the “new.” It is an evolving city that accepts all that it is a part of it: the good, bad, ugly and beautiful.
Taiwan is genuine and authentic; a place that will undoubtedly offer you another home.
If you’re interested in teaching in Taiwan, check out the current offerings here.
Otherwise, here’s a collection of some of my best photographs of the experience.
Life in Taiwan
Teaching in Taiwan