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Visit the active LitNet platform at www.litnet.co.za

Leefstyl | Lifestyle > Expats > Onderhoude | Interviews > Jong expats | Young Expats

Young Expats: Nicole van der Molen chats about Taiwan

Imke van Heerden - 2009-10-26

Where are you living at present and what are you doing there? Is the grass truly greener on the other side?

I'm currently living and teaching in Taiwan and have been doing so for the past two and a half years. For me as a qualified teacher the grass is definitely greener this side of the world. Our salaries are much better than we would be earning back home!

Why did you leave South Africa?

When I graduated from varsity I didn't want to start teaching in South Africa, because I wanted to experience something different. Plus, it didn't help that I had a substantial student loan to pay off. Where it would've taken me a good couple of years to pay it off back home, I was able to do it in less than a year in Taiwan.

Are you planning to come back?

As much as I would love to come back, I somehow doubt it. I won't stay in Taiwan forever, but I will probably move to another country in which to settle down permanently.

What about South Africa puts a smile on your face, and what makes you cry?

The beauty of South Africa is something I miss! Obviously my family and friends, because at times all you want to do is be in an environment you know and can understand. I think the biggest thing that makes me so sad that I don't ever want to come back is the crime that goes on in South Africa. After being spoilt by practically non-existent crime in Taiwan, it would be hard to live in South Africa again. I fear for everyone back home, but hope and pray that everyone remains safe.

What do you miss most about South Africa?

I miss simple things, like my family and good friends, being able to communicate with people who understand what I'm saying. And South Africans' logic and the normal summers!

How do people (especially the locals) react when they hear you're from South Africa?

I think because there are so many South Africans here in the town where I stay, it's not such a big thing for the locals to meet us - that's if they can understand what you say, which isn't very often. Some people are fascinated by the fact that there is a country other than America in the world where people live, so they enjoy talking to us at length.

Do you have a favourite hangout or hangouts in the city/town?

In the town where I stay, there aren't really clubs or places like that to hang out in. There are some places that the hardcore people like to hang out in, but that's not for me. There are some really great restaurants that have English menus, or at least someone who can speak to and understand us. That's what my friends and I enjoy doing here.

You can invite one or more South African singers or bands to perform there in concert. Who do you choose?

It probably could be organised that a South African group could come here, but to be honest, I don't know or follow any South African bands, or any band for that matter - sad, I know!

Would you urge South Africans to go there on holiday?

Taiwan isn't exactly the number one holiday destination I would recommend, but after travelling just a little around the island, I have found many very beautiful places to visit. One could do a really great trip around the island and visit some of the (much) smaller islands around Taiwan.

Are there any interesting tendencies that you would like to tell us about?

There are many interesting things that happen in Taiwan, like parades in the street celebrating a festival about one of the gods they worship; the different food that is eaten; how entire streets are shut down when there is a funeral being held in the middle of the street; the insane number of scooters on the roads; ... and and and. To be honest, there are too many things that are so different from South Africa that it would take too long to tell about all of them.

How does the work ethic differ from that of South Africa?

When it comes to work, the Chinese are probably some the hardest workers around. From very young, children go to school for at least eight hours, and that is not including the extra classes many of them have after school. If there is a public holiday on a Thursday, the government gives everybody the Friday off, but then it has to be worked in the following Saturday, with everyone pitching up for work and school. Naps are taking after lunch so that everyone has energy for the remainder of the day, and many businesses are closed over lunchtime because of this. Shops stay open until at least 10 pm and many businesses are 24-hour places. So, in a nutshell, it's very different from the work ethic in South Africa!

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