By Lindsey Schultz
I have been officially here in Taiwan for 19 days. It’s gone so fast, but I feel like I have been here for longer than that. Honestly, living here, my life feels pretty normal.
Now let me explain before you ask what could possibly be normal about living in Taiwan, compared to living in the States. My schedule everyday is a little different, but for the most part, is pretty ordinary. I’m not trying to downplay my experience at all, because Taiwan is unlike any place I have ever been, but I am just explaining how I feel living here.
My life here feels normal. But normal isn’t bad or boring. Sure, I am immersed in a unique culture, which presents its own challenges, but my days are not constantly filled with adventure and new places. But that’s not the point of this internship. Getting to explore the beaches and mountains is a small portion of what I do here, but it’s not the focus. And I am happy that not everyday is exploring and seeing new places, because that’s not what the local Taiwanese people do everyday either.
The people here all have jobs and families and so on, they are not exploring or vacationing everyday of the week. I think to experience the culture, is to be part of it and do things they do. They work, learn, eat, sleep, etc. as I get to do as a part of my life here and part of my internship.
I have projects that I participate in at The Aroma (the coffee shop), I learn Chinese and I have made friends (both Taiwanese and Americans) that I hang out with as well. Even more normally, I take naps, do laundry, workout and go to coffee shops, all of these things that I do in the U.S. Sure, I am a foreigner in a foreign place, but a majority of the things I do here are normal. I am not saying that I am completely comfortable here or I have Taipei-living all figured out, because I definitely do not. I am saying that I am surprised with the amount of consistencies there are here, along with my life in the States. Not everyday here is a thrilling adventure, and I am okay with that, because that is what real life is like. Not everyday do you feel like you are on top of the world, some days are just plain boring or uneventful.
I’m not even sure if I would say that living here is an “adventure of a lifetime”, but I do think that some days are more exciting and impactful than others. But in everyday, wherever you are, there are little joys that put a smile on your face.
I do have some days that I do get out of Taipei and explore Taiwan and its beauty, but those days are few compared to the days in the city. I love that I can grab coffee with a friend, go for a run, play a board game with friends, or FaceTime a friend from the States, something so simple. I genuinely enjoy those things. I am thankful even more, however, that I am not upset with the amount of regularity that I experience here.
Even in the most uneventful or gloomy of days, you have to choose to find your joy for the day. It is easier to say that I find joy now in the little things, rather than when I am back at school staring at a textbook or a computer screen for hours on end. One thing (of many) that I hope I bring back with me to the States and especially at school, is choosing to find joy in the little things as well, even in the most uneventful days of studying or working.
Being thankful and joyful doesn’t come with the switch of a light. It comes as a practiced mindset. I truly think that as I seek Jesus, and see how many things I constantly blessed with, I begin to focus and rejoice more in the gifts I am given, rather than focusing on the negatives of my days. We are only given one life, and we can choose how to live it. Even in the most normal of days, I hope you choose joy.