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Student enjoys waters after jumping in feet first

The opportunity to further my studies in Taiwan fell miraculously upon me some two years back, when I was already in some sort of stability in my life. It took quite a bit of deliberation and courage to finally make up my mind to give up my career, put my other lifelong plans on hold and relocate myself into a brand-new environment, all alone. Glad to say, I have not looked back since.

You see, the Formosa is an anomaly to me; an all-too-familiar yet foreign land. I have been traveling back to the island as a tourist since my first visit in 2000, when I fell in love with the many interesting places of interest and the huge variety of local delicacies. Exposure to Taiwanese pop culture has been fast and furious with the many Taiwanese programs featured on TV back at home. However, I was apprehensive about adapting to a brand new culture as quickly as possible. My worry proved to be redundant as this wonderful island and its beautiful people simply make you fall in love with the place in no time!

First of all, Taiwanese are a warm and exuberant lot. Need help for directions at the overcrowded Ximending in Taipei? Approach any of the friendly locals and they will go to the extent of bringing you to the destination! Browse and enquire on different products on your shopping spree? Courteous and helpful sales persons will not hesitate to provide all answers to your queries, and no, there is no need to worry if you are not purchasing in the end! Orderly queues are always observed in the train stations and youngsters never hesitate to give up their seats to those who need them more. Such is the high level of civic-mindedness and the heart-warming human touch that you can find in Taiwan.

Another of my favorite activities in Taiwan is to walk around its streets. Be it in Taipei, Tainan or any other part of the country, the little shops that line the different districts never fail to surprise me! Take for example the shopping belt at Zhongxiao East Road and the arts belt around Zhongshan MRT station in Taipei. There may not be glamorous skyscrapers or classy glass-paneled buildings with shiny chandeliers, but little shops housing creative accessories and clothing by the local designers frequently lead you to unexpected hidden finds during your shopping trips! Tired after a long walk? You can always head in to one of the many tastefully furnished cafes that serve yummy desserts and coffee for a pit-stop.

And yes, I sure am missing Taiwan right now!

Eye on Taiwan invites you to share your reflections and observations regarding Taiwan. Please send submissions to alice.li@mail.chinapost.com.tw and include your (1) real name, (2) nationality, (3) contact number, (4) photo, and (5) profile. Specify Eye on Taiwan in the subject line and ensure your submission is at least 350 words long. Writers whose pieces are selected for publication will receive one month's free subscription to The China Post.
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