Living in Taiwan and Tel Aviv
Before I moved to Tel Aviv in July, I was living in East Asia. I love East Asia–the sights, smells, flavors, languages and the people. When I left Taiwan, I knew it would be a while before I returned to the region that had become my home. It did not fully hit me that I would not be returning to live in the Far East until I arrived at my partner’s home in the Middle East.
My first night in Tel Aviv was a bit of a rough one, I had horrible jet-lag and I was in a frenzy trying to discern my place in this new country. In the Far East I knew my surroundings– the culture, modes of transportation, the language –and I knew that my older brother lived just around the corner, in Thailand. In the Middle East, I knew no one, aside from my partner and a few members of his family. I did not know much about Jewish culture, Israeli culture, the Hebrew language, or the Arab-Israeli conflict until I found myself living smack in the middle of it all.
I thought that moving to the Middle East would be easy after living in East Asia. I was wrong. Adjusting to a new culture and way of life is always hard, but ‘hard’ isn’t synonymous with ‘bad’.
After eight months living in Tel Aviv, I have finally gotten the lay of the land. I have learned a few Hebrew words and phrases, although my Mandarin far surpasses my Hebrew. I recently enrolled myself in a five month intensive Hebrew program, so now I study Hebrew five days a week, in the morning, before my classes for my Master’s program. I am studying Government: Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution. This subject is a bit out of my comfort zone, as I majored in Apparel Marketing as an undergrad, but it is certainly interesting to study this subject in the hot-bed of so much turmoil and conflict. As for the “situation,” as everyone refers to the Arab-Israeli conflict here, it rarely affects my everyday life. Yes, I’m a little more cautious of my surroundings, but I choose not to live in fear and I live my life as if I were in Kansas, Hong Kong, or Barcelona: aware, but not afraid.
I thought that moving to the Middle East would be easy after living in East Asia. I was wrong. Adjusting to a new culture and way of life is always hard, but ‘hard’ isn’t synonymous with ‘bad’. Moving from the Far East to the Middle East has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of my early adult life, because I have had the privilege of living in and loving two cultures different to my own.