I avoid negative posts on this blog. There are a number of reasons why. I don’t want to invite the inevitable “Miss you/come home now/I don’t understand why you’re there” comments, as well as those on the opposite side who will tell me how ungrateful or judgmental I am.
Another reason is because it’s hard to tell just how upset or not upset I am. I’m fine. I’m just going to write something a little more negative than normal because, you know what, it’s my truth right now. If you knew me in 2006 or so when I was teetering on depression and had trouble figuring out why I should get out of bed in the morning, you can be assured I have none of those feelings right now.
But yeah, I’m going to write how I feel today. Because as much as I despise travel blogs that couldn’t find humor if it punched them in the face, I also hate the ones that are always super chipper. Life is not always sunshine and cupcakes. Sometimes it flat out sucks, and it doesn’t matter where you are or your mental health status; sometimes all you want to do is crawl into bed and avoid existing for five minutes.
You want honesty? Here it is: there are days when I hate living in Taiwan. There are many days when I loathe Hsinchu. Most days I like it here, but once I move away, I probably won’t come back.
The redeeming factor for this place is that the people here who I know and have befriended are some of the most outstanding people on this planet. They give me hope in humanity and have helped me be a better person just by being in my life. They are generous, compassionate, funny, soulful people, and I couldn’t be more grateful for them.
So when I write about hating it here, it’s not because of my friends. I have a family here I can depend on and trust, and they’ve brought me through my bouts of culture shock and bad days with grace. This whole experience is worth it because of them.
Right now I’m on my bed listening to the rain slap against the overhang outside. Winter has announced its arrival in Hsinchu and, in the spirit of honesty, I’ll say that I hate Hsinchu’s winter. It was miserable last year, and I have no doubt it’ll be just as bad this year. Scooting in this weather, when it’s raining, cold, and winds are gusting at 20mph, is a triumph in patience and keeping your glorified bicycle under control.
There are a lot of things I’ll miss about this place when I leave. And I’m well aware of the blessing I’ve been given in terms of being able to pay off my debt this quickly. I am grateful. But no matter who you are, there are things you miss about home when you live abroad.
I miss my family and friends. My loved ones are on the other side of the planet. I can’t be there for the people who love me, and they can’t be there for me. Weddings, births, funerals, breakups, deaths, moves, graduations, birthdays, anniversaries: all the big stuff, I miss.
Or, hey, I just had a rotten day, want to go get ice cream and watch trashy TV all night? Yeah. I miss that.
I miss jogging without considering wearing my face mask or having to worry about pollution every day. I miss taking a shower and having it be one steady temperature. I miss yards. I miss driving. I miss central air and heat. I miss microwave pizza. I miss spur-of-the-moment road trips. I miss being able to read labels. I miss CrossFit. I miss funny commercials that get annoying after a few months. I miss spinach. I miss deli meat. I miss liking rain. I miss the radio. I miss the ease of domestic flights. I miss being self-sufficient. I miss slow, romantic walks. I miss Cooler Ranch Doritos.
…I miss a lot of foods, apparently.
I’m not moving elsewhere until the timing is right. It’s not about anyone but me, which is very selfish, but I’m not married, I’m not a mother (except to my poor cat, and he probably thinks I’m a huge jerk), and I have no responsibilities to anyone except myself right now. That’s a freedom most people don’t have, and I’m going to take advantage of it.
On nights like tonight, though, I miss being in a place I call home.
And Cooler Ranch Doritos.