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Andrea, Hsinchu

Who are you?

I’m a 50-something American expat, addicted to travel, curious about life. I love trying new things and challenging myself. Raised in a small town in the Midwest, I worked in aviation for 28 years before quitting it all, getting rid of my stuff, and heading to Asia.Where, when and why did you move abroad?

In March, 2013, I quit my job and moved to Hanoi to teach English. The company I was working for appeared to be going under so I figured it was a perfect time to start over. I was right – they went under in June!

What challenges did you face during the move?

The biggest challenge was not knowing where I was really going. I had a vague plan to settle “somewhere in Asia”, but I wasn’t sure exactly where. I started in Hanoi, doing some volunteer teaching while I completed my TEFL certification. After 3 months in Hanoi, I knew I couldn’t live there long-term. Narrowing down my options regarding where I could actually live was the biggest challenge I faced – my own indecision was sometimes crippling.

Are there many other expats in your area?

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There are quite a few expats in Taiwan, mostly other English teachers from the US, UK, South Africa, or Australia. I live very near the Science Park in Hsinchu, and there are quite a few Indian and Sri Lankan expats who work in the technology industry.

What do you like about life where you are?

I love being able to take off on my scooter into the mountains and explore remote aboriginal villages. Many weekends are spent just wandering along mountain roads, shopping at local markets, and exploring new areas. There’s always something new and interesting to see! Taiwan is a beautiful country with lots to explore!

What do you dislike about your expat life?

Being a little older than the average expat in Taiwan, I’ve found it difficult to find a group of friends in my general age range. I’m pretty much an introvert (actually, VERY much) so I value spending time alone, but sometimes I miss going out with the girls for happy hour or going to the occasional party. I’m hoping my next move will allow for more of a social life.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

I think most Asian cultures (including Taiwan) value “family” and “group” over the individual. I’m very, very independent and sometimes I think Taiwanese friends/students have a hard time understanding me.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

Take the first step! That’s the hardest thing to do, but once you do the rest will work out however it’s meant to. For me, it was like jumping off a cliff – terrifying yet exciting. And because I took that leap, my life is more amazing than I could have imagined! Just do it!

What are your plans for the future?

I’ve recently been spending time exploring Europe while house sitting. I also have a house sit lined up in Guatemala for a month this summer. I’m seriously considering relocating to Central America so the house sit in Guatemala will give me time to figure it out. After almost 4 years in Taiwan, I think my time is up. I love it there but it’s not my “forever home”. I think Guatemala may be next!

You can keep up to date with Andrea's adventures on her blog, Andi On Adventure.

Would you like to share your experience of expat life with readers? Email scar@expatfocus.com for details.

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