As I enter the last leg of my stay here in Taiwan, I've begun to think about how much I'm going to miss all the friends that I've made here. They'll all be returning to their respective homelands, and it's very likely that I won't be seeing them again for years, or even for the rest of my life. It's what really keeps me up at night sometimes, but now I've finally realised what it means when people tell me despite the pain of separation they're glad that it happened. Especially with relationships, I've always asked what's the point of them if you know you're going to break up and suffer in the end. But being here and making friends who have become like my second family, I can honestly say that I regret nothing, and could not imagine my stay in Taiwan without them. They've changed my entire perspective on life, and also my perspective on myself. I was pretty confused before I came to Taiwan, and had resigned to being the quiet, anti-social person that most people back home knew me to be. Since my high school days, that had always been my impression of myself, and I often wondered what happened to the outgoing little girl that I had been in my earlier childhood. When thinking about this question, I merely assumed that she was long gone with no further thought on the matter. But now being here, I've come to realise that she was always there all along, just waiting for the right moment for her to be able to appear again!
When you stick to the sidelines and play it safe, you always get what you expect to get. And usually, that's good enough for me. Until I look at everyone else and start comparing and asking, what if I had done that? or that? Then what I expected suddenly doesn't seem to be enough anymore. From now on, I want to eliminate all regrets, and live life the way it was supposed to be; spontaneously, vivaciously and giving it everything I've got.
But back to the topic of goodbyes: How can I give these people who have given me the best 5 months of my life a proper goodbye? When I think of this, a particular song comes to mind; David Tao and Sharon Kwan's duet <好好说再见>, and hopefully this song speaks more than my words could ever express.
For a person like me, making friends has always been hard. What I should say and how I should act are always big problems that disallow me from making friends. Maybe some of you have the same problems too! But being on the campus tour with people from all around the world today was a great experience for me, being unlike no other that I had ever experienced. Slowly I was able to warm up to the group and make friends, but for the first forty-five minutes or so I probably didn’t say more than 10 words..
My advice to you: be open to making friends, smile more and let them know that you want to be friends with them! I’m still working the logistics of it out, being the antisocial person I am, but I’m really glad that I was able to (by some stroke of luck) make friends with many of the international students by the end of the day! Being a good listener and hearing their stories really opened my eyes to different cultures, and how we are able to find differences even in the smallest details of our lives. Just like David Tao’s lyrics once said: “Being different is just that; being different-so what?” We as humans can’t claim to all be the same, because it’s plain to see that we aren’t. But what we can all claim as humans is a right to be able to be different; to have equal dignity and acceptance, no matter where we go, and how we choose to live our lives. Being on exchange and making friends with people from different parts of the world also helps a lot in allowing people to banish this concept of ethnocentrism(thinking your culture is the best), while understanding how others live.
It's been my dream since I started getting to know more about Chinese music to be able to live in Taipei, and now I'm finally going to be able to! Starting from the 11th of February, I will be staying in Taipei for 139 days and hope to share parts of my experiences that may be helpful with readers everywhere! (Feb 2014)