Scenery, friendliness and safety add to higher quality of life in Taiwan
By Ian Fritz
June 22, 2012, 12:01 am TWN
My first impressions of Taiwan came from living in the town of Heng Chun (close to Kenting) in the South for five months in 2005. My days were dotted with tropical activities like bike riding through rice paddies, snorkeling in lukewarm water and swimming on a deserted paradise-like beach called Baisha. The locals were friendly (just like the guidebooks said) and many made a point of trying to talk to me while others just stared. I had to realize quickly that I was the odd one out and get used to being scrutinized in public places.
My most recent trip to Taiwan started in 2010 when I came here as a student. I enrolled at a Taipei based university offering degrees in English and have just finished my third semester. The college experience in Taiwan differs in academic intensity from what I have observed abroad — it seems too laid back. I have also found many students to have limited interest in the area of their study and simply pass the time until graduation when they may find a job in a completely unrelated field. I still have a long way to go to truly understand the subtleties of the education system in Taiwan as it differs wildly from what I am used to.
Of course after some time spent in a new country you pass the "honeymoon phase" when everything is new and impressive and graduate to reality! The chaotic traffic makes my blood boil and cultural differences can cause daily frustration. While you get used to some things more quickly than others, things like culture can take a while to grow on you.
As a South African, one characteristic of Taiwan that stands out is safety. Coming from a country where the threat of crime hangs over your head all the time, I truly appreciate the ability to simply walk around at night without having to look over my shoulder. You get a sense of freedom and safety in Taiwan, which is priceless and contributes to a higher quality of life. This, along with many other reasons, have made my time in Taiwan worth it.