Bert had traveled to Taiwan for several years before we started this journey. He fell in love with Asia and came home after every trip with lovely stories and pictures. So our curiosity about Taiwan and being an expat grows. At the end of 2016, Bert came home from work with a proposal to go to Taiwan for two years. We finally decided to jump on the bandwagon and go for it. If we didn’t like it, we’d be back in no time. So we left everything behind and followed his leads to the other side of the world to start our expat life.
In 2008 we immigrated as a Dutch family to Belgium. We bought a lovely house, and the children went to school. We had a wonderful life with family close by and lots of friends. Bert always had this wish to work and raise the kids in another country. I always listened to his dreams and ideas but dismissed them. We had a house, our parents and family and friends. No reason to leave all this behind for a life abroad.
Bert himself has always traveled for work. This wasn’t always easy with little kids. So many of the responsibilities ended up on my shoulders. This changed luckily after a few years in a new position within the company where he did not have to travel as much. We both knew that being together as a family was important to grow closer to each other again and give our relationship new vibes. We had grown apart in recent years, but giving up was definitely not an option for us. The essential thing in life is our family.
The big decision
With this need in mind, Bert’s wish to work abroad, and the proposals he received at work, I decided to sort things out myself. What would this mean for us as a family? What benefits would this bring to the future of our children? And how great would this be for Bert’s future? I myself had been looking for a nice job for years and still hadn’t found it. I actually liked the idea of being at home and taking care of my family.
And that’s where our journey started…
We sold our house, told the children about our plans, and informed family and friends. All this did not take us a year. In October 2016, we got the offer. In April 2017, we had the official go for Taiwan, and on August 12, we got on the plane. Towards our new expat life.
Becoming an Expat
For the first two weeks, we stayed in a hotel. A container with our furniture was on its way, but it took a while for it to arrive. Until then, we had to rely on a hotel room. Bert started working, and for us, it was mainly a matter of getting through the day.
Green Grass Lake
We discovered a large lake close to our hotel, great for walking around and experiencing life in Taiwan. The first thing that weighed on us was the weather. So extremely hot and especially the high humidity made us exhausted after an hour of walking. The air conditioning in the hotel room was, therefore, very welcome upon return. We drove to the apartment complex during the weekend, where we would come to live, and discovered that area. The longing to be able to go to our apartment and start our life here was great.
During the week, we visited the new school, and we started to discover the city. All the other smells and the fact that every sign is in Chinese make this challenge great. The children were not positive yet that this will work out. They preferred to pack their suitcases and fly back to their ordinary life in Belgium.
Once we have the key to our apartment and started unpacking and furnishing our home, everything became a bit better. We discover the restaurants and shops nearby. We walk between the rice fields along the river close to our apartment. We are amazed to see how many people come here to relax at the end of their working day. Children play in the playgrounds, and people jog and walk the paths along the river. And that while it’s already utterly dark at 6:30. We were becoming aware of how life here differs from that back home. We behold it and adsorb it slowly. That’s the best we can do because the culture shock is big.
A few days later, there was also the first day of school. Lotte and Pepijn got picked up by Taxi, and Bert leaves for work. So here I am, all alone. Not knowing if my children arrived safely at school. This is going to be one of the longest days of my new expat life.
The first weeks passed by, the kids to school, Bert to work, and I spent hours shopping. I was just pointing my phone at all pockets and hoping for a decent translation. I never knew that grocery shopping could be such a challenge. I soon found out that I should not start making dishes from the internet or the cookbooks, but that it is better to buy ingredients that seem familiar to me and prepare something tasty with them. Fortunately, this is a lot easier nowadays.
We started discovering the surroundings of Hsinchu, and we visited Taipei. We learned a lot from Taiwanese culture, and life was getting easier. The kids were doing very well at school. Both were making giant leaps with their English, so that helped a lot for their self-confidence. Of course, there were still tricky days and doubts sometimes, but they also enjoyed their new friends, and the first parties and play dates were there. Lotte had even gone shopping with friends in the large shopping mall in Hsinchu. So nice to live in a country that is so safe. Before we knew it, it was already December, and we were getting ready for our first home leave trip to family and friends.
First home leave trip
We had a wonderful time, and there was something planned every day. Everyone was curious about our experiences, and we were happy to see them again. It’s great to celebrate Christmas and New Year with family and friends. This is part of our culture. To see these differences in our experiences in Taiwan is very special. Saying goodbye again was a tough moment, and the children’s doubts were back. They would much rather go back and live in Belgium.
Chinese New Year
Our life back in Taiwan had quickly adjusted again, and our first Chinese New Year celebration was there. We traveled to Fulong, located on the north coast of Taiwan, to celebrate this with our friends. New friendships had arisen during these days in Fulong. Friendships continued to this day, and for which we are even more grateful during this weird time where we can’t go home easily. Good friends became our new family.
In the past four years, we have seen and discovered so many beautiful places. Taiwan is a great country for expats to live in and has a lot of diversity to offer. We regularly go out for several days to discover this island. The most beautiful thing we have visited is Taroko National Park. A trip to this Park has to be on your list when you visit Taiwan.
I enjoyed this life on the other side of the world. In recent years I have mainly been busy with my family and creating a lovely home. So it was time to start with my dream to create a website where I can share our experiences about expat life. I first started with my account on Instagram in August 2020. I have invested in training to grow this account and hope to start working with brands or companies soon. I have also been busy creating this website in recent months, and there are so many more ideas. My goal is to run my own portable business to be flexible to work from any location in the world. I have lots of ideas but want to do this step by step to create something for the long term.