For the previous post in this series, please click here.
The next few weeks were a blur of new and exciting things. I had a room in an apartment, and a well-connected roommate who served as the link between me and what would be all of my new friends in Taipei, as well as a few language exchange partners to help me ease into speaking Chinese more fluidly.
One of the first things on my agenda was getting my address to my family back home in hopes of inspiring care packages. This was a hurdle in itself given that my address was about 500 words long (I exaggerate, but only minimally).
The next biggest hurdle was navigating Taipei. Yes, it was about as easy as they could make it for we English speakers, given that street signs and MRT (mass rapid transit) markings were in both English and Chinese characters. Nonetheless, leave it up to me to get lost given my poor spacial awareness and lack of an internal compass.
That said, getting lost in Taipei was fun! After realizing that it was very safe (after my new roommate laughed at me for pressing my purse to my body for dear life as if we were in Roma), walking around and exploring became my favorite pastime.
As you may recall in my first post of this series, on day one in Taipei, I observed that the roads were full of motorized scooters, cascading around the streets like a gaggle of birds making their seasonal pilgrimage. It was strangely fascinating to watch as far as motorized scooters go.
Most foreigners eventually do end up getting a scooter/ vespa/ chariot of doom. But personally? I was terrified after seeing an accident on day two in Taipei, and was therefore content to walk everywhere. If it was too far for my feet, the MRT was just fine with me. It was cheap to utilize, and provided the sweet satisfaction of getting somewhere without being responsible for operating a vehicle; something I never had the pleasure of in California.
Classes had started, I was learning new things, and had I begun my transition from the early days of wanting to go back home, to laughing at myself for ever thinking of missing out on this beautiful city. As the summer thankfully crept away, and the pleasant weather of the fall graced us, the great outdoors became my meditation grounds, my source of sanctity, and my friend when all of my other buddies were at work.
Given how much down time I had, I spent most of my time wandering. I finally got over the initial differences; from random Samaritans wearing surgical masks to keep their colds to themselves (how novel! We should do this in the States!), to random people staring me down like a zoo animal. From taking language classes with students from around the world, to sitting down with a local business owner or a doctor for a language exchange.
My life had made one radical change, that was for sure.
I was loving it.
Additionally, it was clear that my feet needed some change. I was the only person walking around the city in Rainbow sandals, which back home were all the rage, but here, only got wet and looked gross given the heavy rainfall.
This is when I had to come to terms with being a giant. Sure, there are tall-ish people in Taipei, but I don’t know where they shop for footwear. I felt like Cinderella’s evil step sister trying, fruitlessly, to buy shoes that would maybe, sort of, kind of fit my size 28 feet. It took days, along with covering some serious ground in order to finally find an acceptable pair. As if I needed any indication, I didn’t quite fit, nor fit in here.
The point was taken. It was time to head to Hong Kong to get some damn shoes.
Don’t even get me started on trying to look for jeans.
Realization number three: I’m gargantuan.
For the next post in this series, please click here.
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