What I’ve heard from friends on past exchanges was definitely right. I bid goodbye to my family today, but what I got from the three days that they spent here with me was a sense of the extent that they would go to to help me to achieve my dreams of being able to live in Taiwan and experience all aspects of life here. They were accepting, patient and ultimately, happy and supportive of my decision throughout the process. So if you’re planning to go on exchange, don’t forget about your family that’s always waiting for you back at home! Don’t make them anxious waiting for a reply from you about how your day went; be proactive and give them updates daily about what you’ve been up to, and the experiences that you’ve had! Your family will always be your number one support, no matter where they are or where you are, so don’t make them worried. Although making new friends and establishing connections are important in the physical world you’re living in, family should always be your first and foremost priority. Whatsapp, Facebook, Skype-there’s absolutely no reason for you not to drop them a message even if you’re just out for the day with friends, or at the library cramming for a test. That goes for anyone really, not just exchange students, although it is more obvious you need to keep a connection going, especially if you won’t be seeing family for a while!
A song that perfectly explains this feeling is Sharon kwan's <半个地球的挂念>(longings from halfway across the world). The singer who wrote this, the amazingly talented Peggy Hsu was studying abroad in Vancouver, and recalls the feelings of warmth that her family brought from halfway across the globe within this song.
A link to the lyric translation: http://asianpopweekly.weebly.com/3/category/sharon%20kwan/1.html
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)