I’m Tuukka (凃克), born in Finland and currently learning Chinese in Taichung, central Taiwan. In the following months, I along with my fellow ambassadors will be telling you about our experiences of living, studying, and working in Taiwan. I hope that our stories will give you a realistic picture about life here and serve as a source of inspiration for anyone planning on making Taiwan their home.
To give you an idea about what to expect from my future blog posts, let me begin by telling a little bit about how I ended up in Taiwan myself.
Let’s start off with a confession: Until a few years ago, I’d hardly ever heard of Taiwan. I was vaguely aware of an island in the Pacific not far from the eastern coast of China, but save for the occasional “Made in Taiwan” tag on my sportswear, I had only the faintest idea about this then-distant country.
Over the past few years, all this changed for two unrelated reasons. Taiwan first really popped up on my radar was when I was still an undergraduate student in the UK. At that time, I learned about a much-debated theory that Taiwan was the ancient homeland for the Austronesian languages, making up one of the world’s major language families. I was fascinated by the idea that today’s Austronesian-speakers in Madagascar, New Zealand, and Hawaii could all possibly trace their languages back to the smallish island off East Asia. How could Taiwan have been the point of origin for such epic migrations? My academic interest was ignited, but it took another turn of events before Taiwan gained my full attention.
That happened when I fell for a girl from that fateful island. To cut the long story short, let’s just say that there was a fun girl from Taiwan who, like me, was at the time studying for her postgraduate degree in the UK. One thing led to another and, after getting our degrees, I soon followed her to Taiwan. By this time, I was already more aware of Taiwan’s character and place in the world: you don’t need a degree in anthropology to know that there’s no better way of learning about a distant land than through a local, especially if she happens to be your girlfriend.
Of course, books, articles, and conversations with your partner only get you so far. To really get to know a place, you’ve got to live there. Nevertheless, the more information available, the more realistic your expectations are going to be and the better you’ll be prepared for the time following the touchdown.
So, after ten months of settling in, I’m now in the position to share some of the experiences I’ve found most illuminating, challenging, and exciting about living and studying in Taiwan. In the following posts, I’ll focus particularly (but not exclusively) on Taichung, and compare life here with my previous experiences of living in northern Europe. Overall, I hope this blog will add to the expat voices recording life in Taiwan and serve as one more point of contact and source of information for those planning on or already undertaking studies here. So please feel welcome to tag along and fire off with any questions or comments you might have!