We have reached a strange point in the trip. We have officially passed the midpoint of our journey, which now counts as the longest continuous time I have spent outside Aotearoa. It is a strange time to pass through because we have adapted to life in Taiwan, and, at the same time, we have not.
It is a unique limbo period. On the one hand, you have thoroughly adjusted to the new environment. The TripAdvisor top 10 destinations have been well and truly ticked off – none of the sights, sounds or smells are as new or overwhelming as they were a mere matter of weeks ago. You have a routine; you know when to get up to go to class, what bus route to get and even have a local coffee shop (in this case, the only one that is open early enough and is not called “7-Eleven” or “Family Mart”. Once you have spent enough time in a single place, you begin to feel less and less like a tourist. On the other hand, despite having a routine and attaining a level of adaptation to this new and different life, you are not a local. You miss a lot of the creature comforts of home and cannot access many of the things a local would expect to.
Sometimes, this can make you wish you were home. Early morning classes combined with a cocktail of homework, presentations and tests do not help this feeling. However, the flip side of this is that the end of the trip is now fast approaching. What once seemed ages away is getting more and more tangible. Nonetheless, nothing like seeing the end helps cure any feelings of wanting to be home. This period reminded me to savour my time here. Yet, it also reminded me of my excitement to share my experiences with those back home and hopefully travel back to Taiwan (and other places!) to build on this experience. Similarly, the incessant march of time also means that our stay in Taipei is closer, providing a welcome new environment to explore. My taste of the city on New Year’s Eve made me excited to experience that well-connected and global city.