Thursday, July 23, 2015

Why You Should Choose Taiwan

 When I had made up my mind to leave home and work abroad for a year, I had planned on going to South Korea. I found a school that was hiring in Sokcho, and they helped me go through the process of applying for a work visa. A week before my departure date, ticket in hand, contract signed, the Korean consul’s office called to inform me that the consul would not meet me to test my English (all of my schooling had been in French and you need an English diploma to teach), and so I could not go to Korea. And that was that. Pushing aside urges to key his car and shove him down a flight of stairs, I set my sights on Taiwan. I haven’t regretted it a single day, to the point where I haven’t even visited South Korea yet. There was even a time when I peed on my face, but that… is another story. Inevitably, one year abroad turned into six, and most of them were face pee free. I picked Taiwan because a friend of mine had already been living there for years, so I knew I would have someone to help me out when I landed. The point of this article is to try and pass on some of that help .

If you’re pondering taking a year to work abroad, this is why I recommend Taiwan: it’s easy. It really is. You may be worried, don’t be. Taiwan is a perfect stepping stone between the West and Asia. It’s easy to communicate, to get around, to eat, to find a place to live and to find work.

            In Taipei, most people can speak or understand English, and they remain friendly even if you can’t speak a word of Mandarin. In my first six months in Taiwan, people often came up to me in restaurants to ask if I needed help ordering. All the large companies will have someone who can take care of you in English. You don't need to speak Mandarin to set-up TV or internet, for example.

           All buses and metro cars will announce the next stop in English, and all road signs are translated into Pinyin, which uses the Latin alphabet to convey Chinese sounds. So it’s not only easy to know where you’re going, but it is also cheap. A bus ride in Taipei costs $15NT. The subway cost varies according to the length of the ride, but probably averages to around $30NT.

           Convenience stores such as 7-Eleven are on every corner, and they are open 24/7 offering a variety of poor quality but edible food. Night markets also offer food up until the wee hours of morning, at which time breakfast shops open up. There is never a time when everything is closed. Night markets have the added advantage that you can simply point to what you want. As with transportation, food is cheap. A steak at a supermarket can be as cheap as $50NT. If you’re lucky $50NT can also get you a lunchbox (biendang), a complete meal with meat, rice and vegetables, though $70NT is more common in Taipei.

A Place to Live
            To find a place to live, simply go to Be sure to use Chrome so that you can get the page translated automatically. You’ll find a medley of apartments, and you can refine your search according to many variables. In Taiwan, real estate agents usually take a cut from the renter, so be prepared to give them half a month’s rent. However, 591 does allow you to look for places rented out directly by the owner. 

           To find work, there are now many sites at your disposal.
The facebook group Substitute teachers needed in Taipei is a great place to start. You can cut your teeth on a few substitute jobs before tackling full-time ones, which can also be found there. Facebook is awash with sites like these. You can try Taiwan English Teacher Job Openings or English Teacher in Taipei.
For more opportunities, you can add Dave’s ESL CafĂ©ESLDewey and Tealit to your searches. Then, if you still want more hours, MYU can allow you to find tutoring jobs. The typical hourly wage for teaching is $600NT
/hr, but you can find as low as $500NT or as high as over $1000NT. Getting a TESL or TEFL certification will help, but it is not essential.

        Now obviously, moving abroad isn't entirely devoid of challenges. But I'd say that in Taiwan, you'll mostly get the enjoyable challenges. I hope you found this helpful, and I hope you come to Taiwan. If you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them in the comments.

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