Living alone

Living alone for the first time, I found out, is basically like being a child and his mother at the same time.

Example 1:

Child Me: “OMG LOOK, A GIANT STITCH PLUSHIE!!!! LET’S BUY THAT”

Mother Me: “That costs more than one week worth of groceries, we can not afford to buy it.”

Child Me: “BUT PLEASEEEEEE”

Mother Me: “…maybe next Christmas.”

Example two:

Child Me :”I wanna eat chicken”

Mother Me: “No, you need to eat more vegetables”

Child Me: “Chicken”

Mother Me: “Vegetables, and if you don’t eat at least an apple a day goodbye giant stitch!”

Child me: “….okay”

I swear this is my everyday life.

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Amen!

The usual premise about why I didn’t write in the last, two months? two months and a half? will be very short : I didn’t feel like it. I didn’t want to write, and especially not in another language. But now I do, so let’s go.

What’s the thing with Taiwanese Christians stopping random foreigners on the road to talk about God? although I appreciate their enthusiasm I must say when they stop me I feel a bit embarrassed. throughout my whole life nobody ever questioned my religion nor tried to convert me, for the simple fact that being Christian was the norm. Add to it the fact that my family is non practicing (meaning we don’t go to church every sunday and such),and you will see how I unconsciously developed the idea that religion is a private matter that nobody talks openly about.

Well now they do, and they are many, asking me to join their Bible study groups, asking me to reply “amen!”whenever they talk about God…and I am totally unprepared for that. It’s like meeting your long lost best friend and finding out that he became obnoxiously loud. On one hand you feel close to him, you feel affection, on the other you wish he stopped shouting how much he missed you at the top of his lungs. Tough situation.

So what do I do? I feel bad when I refuse to join people who insistently call me sister, no matter the fact that I actually do want to go to church sometimes, and I keep all of their fliers even if I never give out my own contact information.

But I repeat: I am not prepared for this. My relationship with God has never been praying and working with other people, but rather a silent conversation going on between Him and my soul. Sometimes my faith is stronger, sometimes I have doubts, but in the end I know the path back to believing, and I am terribly sorry about that, but it is one that I must follow by myself.

So God bless you Taiwanese Christians, and bless you more if you leave me alone.

Elisa knows how to – go to College in Taiwan – part 1

Dreaming of doing something is one thing, actually doing it is another (there’s an ocean between them, my grandma would say) and I understood it quite early in the process of trying to find a good college in Taiwan where I could not only be accepted but also understand the courses. Here are the steps that led me to NTNU, but if you are interested in studying in Taiwan please know that this is not the only option.

step one – be sure you really want to go to Taiwan

To me it was easy to chose la isla Formosa as my beloved happens to be Taiwanese, and I also think that since my goal is to learn Chinese as fast as possible, Taiwan would be the best place to go to, as I didn’t feel ready to face mainland China for other four years (nothing against the P.R.C, I was just sick of using a VPN), but I also knew that career wise chosing Taipei means that if I ever try to find a job in Italy less people will know where I studied as opposed to, say, Beijing or Shanghai. If you plan to go back to your home country you may want to consider the Mainland instead, and if you still don’t think it’s a good fit, be sure to check other places too, such as Hong Kong (which always makes an impression) or Singapore. The choice also depends from what you want to study, which is the next step.

step two – do you know what you want to do exactly?

When I first started researching about Taiwanese universities I was pretty convinced I wanted to study journalism in another college, not Chinese in NTNU, but that was mostly because I had no idea the course I finally got in existed. It might take a long time to find the perfect match, and you will have to consider many aspects, for example:

  • Does Taiwan offer quality education in the field I am interested in? If yes, good, if no, is there anywhere else I could study? If no, because I really want to go to Taiwan, is there any other course that may interest me? My opinion is that some courses might be good for locals but too hard/ too specific for foreigners who don’t know if they are going to stay in Taiwan forever. If you want to test your own determination just search the uni you are on Forumosa, the most cynical and useful website for westerners in Taiwan where 80% of people will try to dissuade you from studying in Taiwan (I myself read not so nice things about NTNU’s Mandarin training center)
  • How long do you want to stay? I personally think Taiwan could be a good choice if you are looking for spending a long time in a less busy place compared to China, but the beauty of the country is undeniable and if you don’t feel like living abroad for years, six months seem a reasonable amount of time to refine your Chinese. Whatever it is, do not push ourself to commit for a longer period if you don’t feel 100% sure about your choice.
  • How good are your Mandarin skills? It doesn’t really matter if the school’s website says they offer courses completely in english, you will still need to speak a bit of Chinese both outside and in school, so be honest with yourself and most importantly, take a test to prove your Chinese level, take TOCFL or HSK, but take it.
  • Do you really know how many colleges there are on the island? Because they are a lot, and you want to check them all. A useful though a bit amateurish website to do so is Study in Taiwan, which will also list all the courses one by one.

step three – get the documents ready

You know you want to go to Taiwan and you have an idea about what you want to do? Fine, go to your high school or college and start translating all the documents in English or Chinese depending on where you are from and especially inform yourself about where is the Taipei representative office in your country because you will most likely need to get everything stamped by them: every year’s records, diploma(s), recommendation letters from your teachers…everything!

TO BE CONTINUED

From Long Distance to No Distance

From time to time I still remember I have a blog to run, so here I am ready to write.

Now that I am done with high school, and I moved on to the massive amount of paperwork I have to do for the visa and such, I had some time to realize that a lot of things are going to change very soon, and I started asking myself how moving to Taipei will affect my relationship with Harvey. He obviously is one of the main reasons why I chose Taipei: I want to be with him, he wants to be with me and spending another five years apart was out of question, because even if we were not made for each other – and I hope it is not the case- we wouldn’t be able to tell by living so far from each other…

People think once you overcame the distance you can overcome everything, but even if there’s no doubt that long distance relationships are difficult, being in one is kind of like living in a bubble, which can preclude you many things but also somehow protect you from some other. I dream about leaving that bubble, but I am also aware that leaving it means having to readjust to a completely new situation, and it might be a bit complicated.

Let’s see why:

Your special one’s lifestyle and yours might not be as compatible as you thought

While we are apart, it doesn’t really matter that my room is a mess and I love street food while Harvey’s room is spotless and he prefers to sit down when eating. It doesn’t

matter if I like tea and he likes coffee, or if I  wake up and goes to sleep earlier and he likes to stay up late. It doesn’t matter if I super super love cats and he doesn’t like them as much, or if I prefer fans whereas he is a fan of the AC   (punpunpun). It doesn’t matter now because we can’t and thus don’t have to share a room or decide where to go to lunch so we have the luxury to spend hours and hours talking together in the environment that suits us the most without having to compromise. We will have to compromise much more once I move to his city, and while we both know it’s worth it, we can’t pretend it won’t take time to adjust.

Less time to spend just talking

When you are in a long distance relationship all you can do is chat: you talk on skype, you call each other, text a lot, you basically spend your time verbally communicating, often retelling detailed stories, discussing your own feelings and so on. Now, Harvey and I only met twice in real life since we became a couple almost two years ago, but both times we didn’t get to talk quite as much as we usually do, because although we were spending more time together we were much busier planning stuff and doing said stuff than just chatting as usual. I think when “transitioning” from a long distance relationship to a more ordinary one can put a couple in danger of losing sight of how important it is to just have some time just to sit down and talk. It’s kind of like letting a child loose in a candy shop after feeding him only vegetables for a week: he might know that vegetables are good for his health but he will just try to grab as many sweets as possible because he didn’t have any lately. In the same way, couples which have been in a long distance relationship for a long time might forget for a while how good communication is for them as lovers,because they just missed too much physically being together.

New schedule

Right now whenever one of us is sleeping the other is automatically free, and when we are both awake we just need to open our computers and it’s magically Skype time. But what will happen when I move to Taiwan? My guess is that we won’t see each other as much as now but we will keep texting and maybe make phone calls quite often.  It might seem like being in the same timezone would make things easier, but since right now Harvey’s free time is mostly late at night because of his school’s crazy class hours, and late at night isn’t my forte, I guess we will have to settle for a couple of afternoon a week. Of course I might be wrong, but what I am trying to say is that we will for sure have to rethink our “dating pattern” and this will probably affect the way we spend our free time too. For example, right now I can chat with him the whole afternoon (his night) and then go out with my friends later, without having to choose, but this is only because we live in different timezones. Later on, we will have to learn how to balance our time and organize it more efficiently, something that kind of scares my disorganized self deeply. Oh but don’t worry, I got an organizer. Hashtag adult life.

Conclusion

I still can’t wait to move to Taipei but I want to say one thing: “beating the distance” is not going to magically solve all your issues, and might even put you in the position to solve problems you never had to face before as a couple. So what does that teach us? That there will never be a time in wich you can take your relationship for granted and stop trying to make it better, that no matter if you have your significant other by your side or not, things might get rough and you still have to fight for it if you think it’s worth it.

And this professional complainer here still thinks it’s all worth it.

Exams are over!

On one hand when I walked out of my school for the last time I felt a little down, because five years of my life passed so fast and now I will proably never see some of my classmates and teachers ever again, on the other I can finally sleep eight hours per night and it feels amazing.

But the point is: it’s done. I graduated from high school!

Why I think finals suck

In Italy, it’s time for “maturità” which is a sort of Gao Kao or whatever you call those exams you need to pass to finally graduate from high school. And it sucks. Why?

  1. Because no matter if you graduate with above average grades or the teachers had mercy and simply raised all of them, you still have to study for another month for ???? reason
  2. Because I am too busy thinking about my future college life to keep focused on high school stuff
  3. Because we have to write a final essay about a random topic that no one will read anyway and we have to do that in the spare time we have between reviewing every single subject we studied so far
  4. Because every class is going to have a different test so how can the final score be relevant to judge which class is more prepared?
  5. Because we already know who is going to fail what
  6. Because it’s to hot to have tests
  7. Because nobody knows when they are actually going to be over
  8. Because I’d rather learn how to cook and survive by myself in a new environment than being asked for the tenth time about Marx’s view of history
  9. Because no matter how relaxed I am now, I bet I will be super tense when the actual exams start and i hate being super tense
  10. Because teachers can’t agree over the importance of these tests
  11. Because how can you expect me to realize I haven’t graduated yet if we are not going to school anymore
  12. Because they turn me into a toddler who just wants to nap and snack
  13. Because I don’t want to do anything, let alone be tested

Happy news are happy!

All I could do so far was dreaming about Taipei, a city I only knew through my boyfriend’s words, a city far enough from fair Verona, where I live, to make our relationship 100% long distance. But things change, and this time they took the best turn possible, as I was accepted in a college that is thirty minutes by bus far from his home.  yep guys, unless something terrible happens, I am moving in September, destination: Taipei.

Most importantly, not only I am going to study full-time what I always wanted to – Chinese- but they will also teach us how to teach it (coming from a family of teachers and being a wannabe teacher myself, I am delighted), give us some basic classes for translators and interpreters, and all of this while living in a Chinese speaking environment. Is this even real? Being the superstitious Italian I am, I can’t help but fear that I will have to break some of my bones very soon to make up for this extreme luck.

No but seriously, you should have seen me yesterday, when I logged in the students’ database, scrolled and scrolled down and suddenly read my name, just after a tiny red “Admitted”; I was shocked, at first, and then overly excited, and then more than overly excited, jumping around and stuff, and then I started calling everyone while still jumping, and then I sat down and cried and then I spent something like two hours opening the database every three minutes to see if my name was still there. And it was, every time! Which means, my friends, that in the near future I will probably no longer be Dreaming of Taipei but rather Living in Taipei. Well at least after I try my best to graduate, fill in other 300 forms or so, take some more horrible passport pictures and things like that.

But I know it’s worth it.

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