Let's just say — it wasn't love at first sight
By Vivian Lee
March 22, 2013, 1:14 pm TWN
I used to associate myself as an American, proud of being raised in California and not in Taiwan. Having lived in a dry and sunny climate for almost my entire life, it was a pain to come back to Taipei every summer. In my eyes, Taiwan was a suffocating and polluted country, and I dreaded the humidity and smog that clung to my skin.
But when I really opened up to the culture and daily lives of the Taiwanese, I saw something extraordinary. The vendors on the corner of the streets were no longer blank faces selling food to passerbys. The chattering teenagers picking out clothes and makeup were no longer the annoying girls I rolled my eyes at. I saw the deeper side to the Taiwanese. The elderly lady selling bao zhi near my grandma's house worked from 6 in the morning to 9 o'clock at night, never failing to smile at her customers and chat up her regulars. That group of girls, they're coming out of a 4-hour cram-school session, happy to finally take a break from studying and to be surrounded by their closest friends.
I've come to realize that I was wrong about Taiwan. The hard exterior of this country does not define it as a whole, and in order for one to truly understand this fascinating place, they need to get to know the people. We're friendly, we're open, and we all have a story to tell.
And as it might not have been love at first sight, I'm sure that my growing attachment to this beautiful little island will make up for my years of ignorance. Taiwan may not look as breath-taking as Paris, or Guam, or even New York; but this little Island has a down-to earth charm that will bring me back every time.