I’ve been out of quarantine for about a week, and thought I could give you a quick idea of a bunch of different parts of my life in Taiwan now! In the future, I’ll be writing more detailed posts on most of these subjects!
It’s pretty common to grab food from convenience stores or to eat out a lot in Taiwan. The main convenience stores are 7/11 and Family Mart. They have a variety of ready foods to eat along with snacks, and basic items. So far, that’s what I have been doing when I don’t feel like going to a restaurant. I did also go to the grocery store to grab some basic necessities (coffee, oatmeal, a few yogurts, etc.). I have found some super yummy restaurants not too far from my apartment. Winners so far have been Tonkatsu, coffee shops, ramen, and beef noodle soup. Tonight, I’m going out for pizza with a friend!
Taiwan is famous for bubble tea. There’s also coffee and tea shops everywhere! There are so many good drinks. The tap water here is not drinkable, so you need to buy water to drink.
I have class every morning from 8-10am. This is my main Chinese class. There are 9 students in my class, so it’s a very small classroom. We have a textbook that we use along with homework assignments, tests and quizzes, and handouts from my teacher. Along with this class, I need to do 5 extra class hours a week. There are a few classes offered each week for students like extra lectures, movies, tv series, and more! I can also use the 5 extra hours to study in the library, either by myself or with the listening/reading exercises on the library computers. Along with the 15 class hours a week, I also have homework. I need to prepare each day for the next class, learn new vocabulary and grammar concepts, write sentences and essays, complete assignments, and prepare for the tests and quizzes each week.
My apartment is in a great location! It’s one metro stop from school or about a 25 minute walk to school. The apartment has a bunch of bedrooms, two bathrooms (only one with a working shower), a small kitchen, a few balconies, washing machine (no dryer), a few dining room type tables, and a living room. My bedroom is a good size with a desk, tiny couch, lots of storage, and a double bed! Only the bedrooms are air conditioned (see why this is a problem later in the post). There are 3 European girls, an American girl, two Taiwanese boys, and 2 Taiwanese girls living here. Most of us are students, and two of the girls are in the same program as me!
I’ve met so many friends since getting here! Not only have I met friends in my apartment and in my class, but I have met so many other students at my school. So far, there has not been a day where I didn’t go out with some friends for coffee or a meal.
Due to COVID, you still need to wear a mask all the time in Taiwan (both inside and outside). In class, we have to wear masks. They also recommend taking your temperature frequently and testing if you feel sick.
It is hot here. Imagine the hottest place you’ve ever been, and then add 100% humidity and 15 degrees. It also rains quite a bit here. It’s relatively similar to Florida weather. We also experienced the effects from a typhoon last weekend – just lots of rain!
From my apartment, I can walk to tons of places! There are convenience stores really close by, school is a 25 minute walk, and the metro is about 6 minutes away. The metro is very convenient. I can put money on my student ID card and use that as my metro pass. I will also be trying out the rideshare type bikes very soon now that I have a better understanding of the city. Getting around is so easy and convenient.
One of the fun things you have to get used to in a new country are the prices. Not only the exchange rate (which I will honestly never know by heart), but what is “expensive” and what isn’t. In the first two days, I learned that coffee from Starbucks is significantly more expensive than other chain shops. I’ve also learned where to buy groceries, and what restaurants are reasonably priced.
Here are some general ideas of prices:
- McDonald’s Meal (with a side and a drink): starts at about $120NTD (~$3.90US)
- Americano at a coffee chain (not Starbucks): around $70NTD (~$2.27)
- Large bottle of water from the convenience store (a little over half a gallon): $30NTD (~$0.98)
- Meal at Japanese Restaurant: $200NTD (~$6.60)
- Large Bubble Tea: $70NTD (~$2.29)
I’ll write more about all of this super soon!