Still Swimming

Standing in Yangmingshan National Park, Taiwan.

When I first arrived in Taiwan, there were certain things I had to get used to.

I had to come to terms with keeping my elbows at my sides rather than in people’s ribs when I entered high-density areas; it turns out that the Taiwanese, unlike the mainland Chinese, not only line up, but embrace proper queuing form — even during rush hour in the subway station.

Flavors foreign to my tongue also required some acclimation. While childhood experience informed me that ice cream sandwiches are always meant to be sweet and creamy, my trips to the campus snack shop at National Taiwan University taught me otherwise. Ice cream sandwiches are, in fact, meant to be salty and creamy. At first bite, I was saddened that I had discovered this fact 21 years into my life, because vanilla ice cream nestled between two flaky saltines is one of the greatest pleasures a human can enjoy. I share this gem of knowledge with you now so you can immediately take advantage of it.

Now that I’m back in the U.S., there are things I have to re-train myself to accept after getting accustomed to my life in Taipei. Being awake 24 hours a day isn’t as fun here; bars and karaoke establishments don’t stay open until breakfast. If I’m too lazy to cross the street to get to a 7-Eleven when I want a beverage, I still have to cross the street. I guess Americans don’t think it’s economically savvy to have every other storefront be a 7-Eleven. And not everyone wants to be my friend just because I can speak English.

Somewhere in the year that I was away from Berkeley, I discovered that I’m a little bit like a fish that hops from aquarium to aquarium as I float through different environments. Unlike a fish, however, the change of salinity doesn’t kill me. I adapt. Even though the sandcastles and decorative seaweed change from place to place, in the words of Dory the fish from “Finding Nemo,” I just keep swimming.

Image Source: Sara Hayden, Daily Cal