Blog Carnival: New Year Travel Resolution

Today’s article is written for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe. The host for this month is Carissa Peck. I’ll be posting a new ESL-related article on my blog at the start of every month, and the carnival is always published on the 5th by that month’s host. Check back for more articles, and if you’d like to contribute to next month’s Blog Carnival, please contact Dean at dean@reachtoteachrecruiting.com, and he will let you know how you can start participating!

new yearI consider myself to be a very fortunate person. I have had the drive and the luck to live and work in a number of different countries and each year has brought with it its own unique high points and low points.

My first year in Taiwan was both scary and exciting; finding your feet once you step off of a plane in a new destination can sometimes not be so easy, I stumbled and tripped my way through the first half of my year but all of it was encased in a bubble of new and exciting experiences.

My second year in Taiwan I met my boyfriend and it has been one full of adventure. I have managed to explore more of the island, venturing to places such as Tainan, Kaohsiung and Kenting, I even went and explored Taroko Gorge for 2 days. Having a partner who is Taiwanese sure has its perks when it comes to communication. I feel that there is so much more that is accessible to me because I can eliminate the awkward language barrier. On top of that when he organizes something he can often negotiate a lower price and isn’t herded into the tourist hot spots.

However, on the flip side what this has done is made me extremely lazy with the language. Taiwan itself is a place where you can get by without learning the language as most people have some form of English ability, and if not then there is guaranteed to be a friendly person nearby to help out, plus most transport signs are in English too.

I did start some one on one tutoring, I think it lasted 2 sessions and then his schedule changed and I likely wanted to go hiking in Taiwan instead of class so we ended up cancelling it.

How silly I’ve been.

Having the ability to speak the language in Taiwan, or in any location, will open up your experience so much more. I have lost count of how many times I have felt on the outside of a conversation being had in mandarin by my friends or people I know here.  Jokes will be told that I don’t get, plans will be made that I hear about afterwards, locations exist that I cannot find. Worse than all of this is feeling like a burden to a group who want to speak mandarin but they have to keep explaining everything to me in English. I hate being that guy.

I feel that now I am at the point where it is a good time to start learning, I have done a lot of the adventure side of Taiwan; I have seen a lot of the island, been to a lot of the annual parties and, now that I have met my boyfriends family (who do not speak English), it is time I learnt the lingo.

So here is my 2015 travelling resolution. Mandarin is not an easy language to learn, not by any stretch, mainly because it is a tonal language, which means that one word said in 4 different tones can mean such different things. But the best rewards come from those that demand the hardest work.

Do you have any resolutions you are making for 2015? Let us know in a comment below.

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