10 Habits To Leave In Taiwan
At the end of each day I add a little red “x” on my calendar, marking off another day that’s pushing me closer to the end of my time in Taiwan.
I’m a writer with a penchant for flair and hyperboles, and those who read my articles often know this truth. (If this is your first time reading my work, welcome to the ridiculous and exaggerated musings of a writing traveler.)
It’s hard to believe a year has nearly gone by, and thinking back to all of the little cultural and social faux pas I made when I first arrived in Taiwan makes me giggle. However many mistakes I made in the beginning, though, I’m proud to say I learned from and refined my silly foreigner ways to smoothly sail by in the country.
After an entire year of daily practices, it’s going to be arduous to simply drop the habits I’ve picked up – these 10 listed especially.
1. No tipping
I really wish America would just jump on the bandwagon and pay those in customer service a living wage so I wouldn’t have to sit there and calculate how much of a wage I think a person deserves.
I love Taiwan where tipping isn’t customary. It makes everything seem much less … awkward? Servers don’t feel like they have to grovel for a few dollars left at the end of a meal. It really makes dining out so much more enjoyable.
Having comfort foods that were hard to find in Asia stashed in my pantry was never a good thing for me in Taiwan. The one time that I had the holy grail of guilty pleasures tucked away in my cupboard (3 party sized bags of Hot Cheetos) was an awful idea.
Hoarded snacks only last a couple of days in my house. For me, saving food is impossible. Sober Judith knows how to ration. Drunken Judith thinks eating 3 party sized bags of Hot Cheetos (and a Diet Coke to balance out the calories) is a good idea.
In America, I won’t need to hoard naughty little snacks because they’ll always be available.
3. Umbrella stashing
Because of the bipolar rain gods in Taiwan, I always carry a small umbrella with me. Always. In my purse, backpack, in my hand, there’s always one on me.
4. Splurging on designer cosmetics
Out of fear of accidentally buying make-up that has bleaching agents in it to help women achieve that oh-so-sexy “Michael Jackson White” complexion; I began buying designer label cosmetics.
It’s a bit terrifying shopping for makeup when you can’t read the Chinese label of ingredients on the back, and I know that tons of the makeup here helps to whiten skin.
What else could I have possibly done other than run to the Christian Dior or Chanel counter for new cosmetics? I now am the proud owner of a makeup box that costs my yearly salary. I’ve allowed myself to splurge here with a good excuse, but once I’m back in America it’s back to Sephora and reasonably priced foundation for me. Sigh.
5. Tea ceremonies
I’m actually going to miss going to tea houses where there is a ritual to drinking the life elixirs – I swear tea is the reason Taiwanese people look so young and gorgeous even past their prime.
6. Slurping my noodles
In Taiwan, it’s normal. In America, it’s rude. No more slurping up udon or ramen for me, and just when I had finally gotten the hang of it without splashing sauce all over myself, too. Sad days are ahead, my friend. Sad, sad days.
In my opinion, there is really only one reason to ever venture into a night market: food. Taiwanese food stands serve up food that is pretty healthy compared to American standards, so these are my last weeks of eating without care.
8. Daily boba tea
Boba teashops are on every corner and cost next to nothing for a giant cup of delicious milk tea. Boba teas will have to be a special treat in America since I’ll have to go out of my way to find the shops.
What will I do without my daily pearl milk tea with low sugar, standard ice, and extra pearls?
9. Sick masks
I actually really love wearing sick masks when I’m feeling a little sick. I think they’re smart and wearing them is courteous to others.
In America, though, people might think I need to be quarantined if they see me walking around looking like a feverish and malnourished Sub-Zero.
10. Shopping sprees
Yup. These will have to go, too. I’ve changed my wardrobe and style several times in Taiwan while hardly putting a dent in my paycheck. I’m going to miss Taiwanese shopping stalls and boutiques.
If you’ve lived or visited Taiwan before, what habits did you have to leave behind? Share you answer with other expats in a comment below!