(last updated on November 2, 2015)
This month I’m leaving my nest in Southern New Hampshire to fly to reconnect with my extended family and culture in Taiwan. It’s also an experiment to see how well I can work away from home, testing my ability to adapt. I am not naturally an adventurous person, and I am horribly self-conscious about ,y poor language skills. Now that I’m a grown-ass adult, though, it’s time to see if I’ve learned any skills to help me cope with my shortcomings. I’m declaring this as an official personal challenge for October 2015. Read on for the details!
Here’s the list of things I’d like to accomplish on this outing:
Visit Dad and get dental implant put in by dentist uncle – This is ostensibly the reason I’m going, because when I mentioned to Dad that I needed to have this work done, he reminded me that Uncle had been doing this for many years. He’s a veteran dentist with a current license from California as well as Taiwan.
Reconnect with the extended family – Because of the language barrier I face, I don’t really know that much about the relatives or even what their names are. It’s pretty awful. As I grow older, I’ve become more aware that it’s the responsibility of my generation to ensure that future ties remain strong.
Reconnect with the language and the culture – There are vast expanses of time that I forget I am Taiwanese or even Asian. Again, as I grow older, I wish to correct this imbalance.
Test ability to be an adventurer – When I first started my journey to become “creatively independent” a few years ago, one of the reasons I cited was so I could travel more and experience how other people live. I realized later that I’m actually more of a homebody than an explorer, and a great deal of it is having a positive attitude over a defensive one. This trip will be a chance to expand my comfort zone.
Test mobile working gear – Part of being creatively independent is being able to work from anywhere and still make money. I’m planning on doing some design work while I’m in Taiwan and trying to develop product, maintaining contact with my commercial printer over the Internet. I think I have my laptop setup and cloud-based software fairly well-tuned, but this will be the big test!
Test ability to balance work and social challenges in a new environment – For all my stated desire to travel and explore the bits of the world that interest me, I’m not sure really how I will react to whole new levels of uncertainty AND remain productive. I suspect I will learn new ways to manage my time.
The Travel Plan
Getting from New Hampshire to Taiwan is around 24 hours from door to door. Rather than do it all at once, the plan is to spend a few days in California on both legs of the Taiwan trip, which gives me a chance to catch-up with other relatives nearby and not have such a long travel day. This breaks the travel time into an 8-hour flight followed by a 16-hour flight.
While I’m in Taiwan, I’m thinking of focusing on writing and personal design work in addition to studying Mandarin Chinese.
To help with language, I bought Serge Melynyck’s Chinese on the advice of a good friend. Melnyck is a Russian guy who speaks really excellent Mandarin, and his Western perspective helps make the language feel a bit more accessible. He has a number of business and technology conversational drills too that I’m hoping will be more useful than the instruction I’ve had in the past.
When I’m not listening and practicing, I’ll be trying to get into the rhythm of writing again, redeveloping my personal voice. I’m not sure how it will go, but I sense it is important for my continued happiness.
I’ve also got a bunch of design updates to make, particularly the swiftly-approaching NaNoWriMo 2015 word counting calendar. There is a nice backlog of design requests I’d like to dig into as well. It would be cool to find a nearby coffee shop and try working from there.
That’s about all I have planned. Halfway through the visit I’ll be having dental surgery done, so that may wipe out any desire to do very much as I lie in bed recovering. I’m sure that my Dad and relatives will have a lot of things going on too, so my time is probably not my own but that’s OK.
About this Article Series
This blog post is part of a series about reconnecting with my heritage in Taiwan while testing my mettle as a traveler. All posts are collected on The Taiwan Travel Challenge 2015 Page.