Larry, Taipei

Who are you?

Larry. I’m Larry and I’m a foreigner in Taiwan.Where, when and why did you move abroad?

I first moved abroad as a missionary for the LDS church in Taichung when I was 19, in 2011.

What challenges did you face during the move?

I really didn’t like the food to begin with, so I ate a lot of 7-11 hot dogs and McDonalds. The only food I really liked right off was fried rice. Also, it was hard to communicate with everyone, as my Chinese was pretty terrible.

How did you find somewhere to live?

This was provided to me by the church at first. When I moved back to Taiwan after the mission, I already had fluent Chinese so I just found an apartment on 591.

Are there many other expats in your area?

Currently I live in Nangang, Taipei. There seem to be quite a few Indian students that live next to me studying at Academia Sinica.

What is your relationship like with the locals?

Because I have spent nearly my entire adult life in Taiwan, I consider myself Taiwanese. I am one of them.

What do you like about life where you are?

The weather, the great food, the convenience (transportation and shopping), nice people, safety, beautiful scenery, Chinese environment, rich history, and the list goes on and on.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

I miss a few things that I can’t buy easily at the store here, such as graham crackers, good Indian curry mix, and cheap milk. And filing U.S. taxes. That is it!

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

One of the hardest things to get used to even now is the lack of interest that Taiwanese people show in other people’s lives. They might be family members, but they won’t ask simple questions like “what have you been up to?” or “what are your hopes and dreams?” It seems that everyone’s personal life is kept very personal, even among family. People do not just spill their problems and share their innermost feelings easily. I think this has caused a higher rate of mental illness in the country too.

What do you think of the food and drink in your new country?

Taiwanese food and drink are delicious.

What are your particular likes or dislikes?

I love pretty much everything except stuff that is bitter and animal appendages. I love so much. Biandang, buffets, steamed buns, curry, dumplings, hot pot, fried chicken, fruits and vegetables, and everything at a night market.

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

Keep an open mind and try things the way Taiwanese do. You might find that they do things in a better way than you are used to.

What are your plans for the future?

I plan to open a bed and breakfast in Taiwan. This is a very distant plan. I probably won’t be able to do this until I retire.

In the meantime I will keep my day job and keep blogging for fun.

You can keep up to date with Larry's adventures on his blog, Foreigners In Taiwan, and on Facebook.

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