A Summer Reflection [Year in Taiwan, Ed. 2]

As we all know, time flies when you’re having fun, and while I knew this idiom would be especially pertinent this summer, it truly is hard to believe that this second consecutive summer in Taiwan has come to an end.

Just like that, the whirlwind of starting a temporary year abroad is settling down and transitioning into my next chapter: school.

While I enjoyed relative freedom this summer, embarking on various adventures and concluding with a brief escape to Japan with Hsuan, I must prepare for what I am really here for. This morning, as Hsuan returned to work, I spent nearly three hours at National Taiwan University’s Chinese Language Division taking written and oral placement exams. Soon, my class schedule for the next few months will be confirmed. A new reality is beginning to take shape.

Kumoba Pond, Karuizawa
A somewhat rainy yet still pleasant stroll around Karuizawa’s Kumoba Pond.

Up until now, there is naturally much to reflect upon. From my first Taiwanese beach BBQ experience to celebrating Hsuan’s and mine one-year anniversary before visiting Japan together, these past two weeks alone have been extremely valuable, especially in terms of learning about Taiwan, myself, and relationships.

Beginning with Taiwan and greater East Asia, I am learning again and again just how much I do not know, all the books I never read, all the entertainment media I did not consume, all the celebrities whose names I hardly recognize, all the trends I did not follow, and especially all the history that may help to explain why Taiwan is the way it is. (Do not even get me started on the politics.)

HSUAN <3Luckily, I am learning and, at the very least, slowly gaining exposure to the “common knowledge” stuff any Taiwanese person would possess, mostly thanks to Hsuan’s patient introductions and explanations.

…which leads to my next point: I love the patience, perspective, guidance, and much-needed mirth that Hsuan brings to life and our relationship.

As cheesy as it may sound, I finally understand the meaning of a partner being a “rock,” confirmed both by and despite our unique challenges. Although people say relationships are hard work, I also think that it feels easy being with Hsuan and that’s how it should be most of the time for any relationship. Whether it’s simply spending time with him or experiencing a new journey together, the positive feelings such as happiness and comfort far overshadow the work that does come with maintaining a good relationship. (I’ve written something similar before.) So Japan with him was an amazing way to mark the end of this summer, having visited various attractions such as the Ghibli Museum and the very city featured in Netflix’s Terrace House, having experienced the Japanese tradition of waiting in long lines for food and ice cream, and having captured many, many memories that I will always cherish. Please feel free to ask for a more specific itinerary or travel tips if you’re looking to make a trip to and around Tokyo!

This journey as a whole in Taiwan nevertheless is just beginning. More (mis)adventures and opportunities to learn and challenge myself await, and I hope you will continue to join me on my (our) journeys. ❤

Shiraito Falls