The minute I stepped onto Taiwan from the plane, I knew that I was in a different country; one I’ve never been to before. I have traveled to three different countries in my life and Taiwan is my favorite so far. I landed in Taipei and was immediately welcomed by the summer heat and humidity; the humidity being something I have never experienced on this scale before. I’ve never been to a tropical climate area; most of my travels are constantly in the Southwest of the United States so I am completely used to being in desert climates with no humidity and Taiwan is the completely opposite side of the hot climate coin being very humid. Landing in Taiwan was already the beginning of a very new experience for me. That was my first thought when entering Taiwan. The second thought after I landed was the discovery of the most beautiful country I have ever been to. The architecture, the people, the Chinese characters in every direction; all of these literally stopped me in my tracks and took it all in. The constant usage of Chinese and the vast amount of people in my immediate vicinity caused me to have the very first culture shock I have ever experienced. It was new, fresh, and beautiful.
Since landing and traveling to Tainan, I have not had a terrible experience. Every moment I spend here is beautiful and welcoming. It truly feels like home. Where I am from, Albuquerque, New Mexico, is constantly described as beautiful, friendly, and welcoming to which I agree wholeheartedly which is why I feel that Tainan itself feels like home. The scenery and people are the most welcoming I have ever experienced, even within a country I am a resident in. The culture here in Tainan, despite being completely foreign to me since I studied China’s culture and literature since entering university, feels oddly familiar. Even though one of the main goals of this program is to become immersed into Tainan’s culture, I feel that despite the little time since I arrived in Tainan until now while writing this text, I have already become immersed into Tainan’s convivial culture. Tainan is a city worthy of being a hometown for many because it feels like any hometown I could think of, especially my own.
All of this contemplation of Tainan reminds me of a question that was asked to me at the beginning of my third week. The teacher I was working with asked me if I miss my hometown and my reply was that I missed my family but not my hometown. I do love my hometown and I am perfectly content with living there for the rest of my life, but I feel that in order to miss something, it means you cannot replace it nor find an adequate replacement for it. For my family, nothing can replace them but as for my hometown, I feel that Tainan could become my permanent residence if I had the opportunity because Tainan is a great city. It is the only city that I have stayed in for an extended period besides my hometown but one that I will keep coming back to in the future.
By: Stephan Meza
Term: Summer 2018