My journey in Taiwan started August 27, 2010. During the past twelve months I’ve had the pleasure of traveling, meeting wonderful people, discovering a new culture, trying my hand at a difficult third language, teaching some adorable children, and enjoying a kind of financial freedom that eluded me since my credit card debt began to skyrocket in 2006. Life in Taiwan has changed my entire perspective and has given me new hope in my future. I live a beautiful, blessed life, and I know it.
A good number of expats who come to Taiwan, especially males, stay long-term. They find love, often with a Taiwanese woman. Both male and female expats relish the lifestyle teaching English here affords; low cost of living and a very handsome pay make month-long vacations in exotic places doable. If you don’t travel, the money can be used for any number of habits, hobbies or toys.
You can also get away with quite a bit. Calling in “sick”, showing up late, not showing up at all, teaching while in an altered state: most companies elsewhere will can you after the first offense. Not so here. Should a school decide they’ve had enough of a teacher’s antics, that teacher can typically find a new job within a week or so.
Taiwan, for expats, is like Neverland. It’s a dreamworld where adults (and those who appear to be adults but are actually teenagers in disguise) go to play without fear of consequences. An island paradise full of exotic treasures and plenty of fairy dust: what’s not to like?
For some expats, Taiwan is their last stop; they’ll stay for the rest of their lives. A handful like me see themselves living here for one or two years, but that’s it. There’s more to the story, and that story continues in another setting.
That’s where my next major challenge arises. Financial stability: check. Extensive Far East travel: check. Quenching of wanderlust: check. Next step: move on.
Now here’s where Bob’s baby steps come into play, because moving back isn’t simple. What career do I want to go into, and where, and are any companies hiring, and how long will it take me to find a job, and how will I go through the interview process… the list, while finite, is daunting. Anyone who has played the job market game recently will understand the complexity of finding work in North America right now. Honestly, if I boarded the next flight out of Taipei and moved back to the States, I would likely be unemployed for months.
In essence, those who are ready to leave Neverland and return to the real world are at the mercy of the global economy. They’re stuck here until they’re hired; it’s out of their control. It’s something to consider when I am ready to fly back home. Will I be stuck?
“Stuck” is a poor choice in words given the quality of life I’ve been afforded here. Considering the financial distress many Americans are in, the starvation of millions in Africa, the men and women in the Armed Forces who have no say in when they can leave their posts, those who just lost loved ones in the horrific massacre in Norway: who am I to complain? How dare I whine about being “stuck” in Neverland?
This last month has been one of introspection, intense conversations with loved ones, and decisions. My perspective has changed. I’m not meant to be a member of the Lost Boys, nor am I meant to stay in Taiwan long-term, but I can’t leave until my business is finished. My chapter in Neverland isn’t quite over.