Being accustom to a Caribbean lifestyle, the anxiety and thrill of venturing to an Asian country to complete my master’s degree can still be felt even though it occurred one year ago. With a smile, I can remember the speechless and amazing moment when I was awarded the ICDF scholarship to National Central University in Taiwan. It is one of those memories that would always be remembered and treasured even for the simple fact of never anticipating such a change….studying on the other side of the world. Being a foreigner in Taiwan has its benefits such as cultural enrichment, personal growth and new perspective on the world/life, while at the same time it has de-benefits such as life style adjustment and language barrier.
Originating from the Eastern Caribbean Island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, my culture is completely different from the Taiwanese culture. The options and things such food, shopping and social customs that I am familiar with are no longer the same. Resultantly, the lifestyle and cuisine of Taiwan that symbolizes a way of life of the eastern culture aids in my cultural enrichment. This is reinforced by the fact that being in Taiwan does not limit the exposure to Taiwanese people and their culture but also to Vietnamese, Thai and Indonesian to name a few, enriching my cultural intellect even more. This captivates one of the things I love the most about being in Taiwan as a foreigner; learning about and experiencing the different lifestyles of the different ethnic groups. Furthermore, the hands-on experience with the language is severely belittled. When making choices such as living so far away from home in a country whose way of life is alien to you, one often relies on the opinions and advice of those who have traveled before. But they can never fully transfer the delight of the mispronounced and misused words one experiences with trying to learn a foreign language.
Being a foreign student living in Taiwan provides me with experiences which I can see aiding in my maturity both personally and intellectually. It helps expose me to new ways of thinking and living, which encourages growth and independence.  The classroom teaching style is different, so I was forced to develop a new learning technique promoting personal growth. More so, I was enforced to develop a different approach to my interactive skill which I can see preparing me for the working world. Studying in Taiwan also broaden my intellectual aptitude outside of the classroom. I have been exposed to news and information one would typical ignore when living in their native homeland on the western side of the world. Undeniably, this surges a new perspective on the world for me, broadening my intellectual horizon and deepen my knowledge and understanding of international, political, and economic issues.
Although being a foreigner in Taiwan has its benefits, there are some de-benefits that have been unkind to the experience. The main de-benefit that comes to mind is life style adjustment. One major contribution to success is comfort, but having a short time to adapt to the new living arrangements and way of life due to the demand of being a student, was at the beginning and still is mentally tasking. The frustrated days was like a mountain at the beginning of the journey but the height lowered as the days passed, yet still even if the frustration is less than the beginning, there are some things I quite can't get use to reverting the uneasy feeling. Another de-benefit that can be associated with being in Taiwan is the language barrier. Although it is something that can be expected the challenge is sometimes overwhelming.

The Benefits associated with being a foreigner in Taiwan surpasses by a long margin the de-benefits. The de-benefits are linked to the unfamiliar culture and customs of Taiwan, and even though it is mountainous in the beginning, it get easier with time. However, there are still some things such as the food and social customs that will always create that uneasy feeling associated with not being in one’s native homeland. On the other hand, the benefits provide experience that will certainly be life lasting. Both the personal and intellectual growth that amounts from being a foreigner in Taiwan heaves a sense of joy and pride. The experience of the different culture, intensified by the diverse ethnic groups also living in Taiwan further compounds the aforementioned feeling. Indeed, from my one year experience in Taiwan I now see that there are many different ways to live.

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