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.
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! This may include upcoming events in Taipei, concert reviews, and just titbits on life in Taipei in general. (Feb 2014)