Traveling is dangerous, I’m telling you! You leave everything you know, your home, your city, maybe even your country. And it doesn’t stop here, oh no. You leave your continent, people who share the same culture with you and you even might not know the language that is spoken at the destination of your journey! In short, when you travel you leave your comfort zone. And this is exactly where adventures and new experiences start. This is the point in your life when you get really excited because you leave everything known behind you, unsure what to expect next. But don’t worry or be scared, this is where life becomes worth living. Now this expression might sound a bit overused, but there is truth in every idiom!
Two years ago I found myself on the other side of the globe, (I live in Germany), walking out of the airport in Taipei, Taiwan. If you happen to have read any other of my posts, you might have seen me mention Taiwan from time to time… So in 2012, I spontaneously decided to participate in an internship program, teaching English to children in Taipei. I have never traveled this far alone, and I have never been to Asia before.
To be honest, the first few days were hard, only a few people at my school spoke English, I had no real place to stay, I was moving every day to another person’s flat, the food was so different… but after a little rocky start, the next two months turned out to be the most amazing two months I ever had. I fell in love with the country. Taiwan’s second name is “Ilia Formosa”, the beautiful island, and honestly, it has earned that name. The food turned out to be really delicious after getting used to it, the people are extremely friendly, even if some weren’t able to speak English, and soon I started to feel at home. I felt so much at home that I went back to Taiwan in 2013 to visit all my friends I made there and to explore some more of the island. Because what I lost in Taiwan is a piece of myself. And yes, I know expression might be a little overused as well… but it perfectly describes how I feel every time I think about this faraway place.
Even though the country and the culture are so different from where I was born and raised, what matters is the kindness of the people you meet on your journey. Bus drivers did small detours for me, the owner of a hostel drove me to a barbecue at the beach, people called their English-speaking friends so I could explain my situation to them over the phone, and they would explain it in Chinese to the friend standing in front of me, so he could point me in the correct way! Everyone I met was welcoming and eager to share their culture, and I shared some of mine.
And what happened? I truly feel like a part of me was lost somewhere between a beautiful temple and a delicious bowl of beef noodle soup.