You’ve got your plane tickets squared away. You’ve got your parents’ blessings and friends’ well wishes. You’ve even downloaded a few Mandarin apps to give you a jumpstart on learning the language. And now for the final, most exciting step - packing your bags! As you prepare your luggage for the year ahead, here are a few items I strongly recommend bringing to Taiwan from the U.S. I promise you will thank me later!
When I lived in Taiwan, I pretty much lived in my swimsuit during those sweltering summer months. However, after just a few months of overwear, I totally regretted not packing an extra suit! The reason I recommend bringing 2-3 is because the sizes run really small in Taiwan (which is a common theme you’ll see throughout this article). It was extremely difficult to find a suit that fit me and I am a pretty average-sized American woman (size 6). Their larges fit me like an extra small! So don’t make my same mistake. Pack that extra suit(s)!
The dress codes at language schools in Taiwan are pretty lax overall, so I definitely got a lot of use out of my jeans on a weekly basis. But just like my swimsuit conundrum, I couldn’t seem to find any replacements that worked for my body type. I searched high and low at cute boutiques, night markets, expensive designer stores, and I could never find a reasonably-priced, well-fitted pair of jeans. I eventually surrendered and had my mom ship me a pair of good old trusty GAP jeans, which tied me over for the rest of the year. Just before I left, there was a UNIQLO (major Japanese casual wear company) that had opened up - and rumor had it, there were some western-sized jeans available!
Hey Guys! You'll likely encounter similar issues when it comes to finding clothes, especially if you are on the taller side (5'9" or 175 centimeters or taller) or if you have a bit of girth or large shoulders. Whether its athletic wear, a suit, or jeans, bring at least one pair of everything you think you may need as far as clothes just in case you encounter issues finding clothes.
3. Underwears and Bras
Are you sensing a theme yet? It was quite challenging finding a store that fit my proportions in this department as well. I recommend stocking up on whatever brand you love and bringing twice the amount than you might have originally thought.
Hey Guys! Same will likely apply to you - don't count on finding your favorite brands of undergarments in your size, so stock up before you depart from home.
4. Western Medicines like Nyquil or Advil & Copies of Any Medical Prescriptions
There are certain medicines that you'll be so glad you have simply because you can read and understand the label, and you already know what effects they will have on your body. If you have a cold, for example, it's not only nice to have medicine that you're familiar with readily available in your time of need, but it's especially nice to not have to communicate your ailments to a doctor in a foreign language. Most prescription drugs that you can get back home, are available in Taiwan, but definitely check with your physician on this before you leave, and bring copies of any prescriptions. Taiwan has an excellent (and affordable) health care system, so if or when you need to refill them you should be able to work with a physician who is able to help you.
5. Limited Amounts of Mac n’ Cheese or Any American “Comfort” Type Boxed/Canned Food That You Might Crave
This goes for your favorite cereal or even coffee brand. These were all specialty items that we requested most often from our parents when they would send us care packages from back home. I had a friend make four boxes of mac n’ cheese last her the entire year abroad. It hilariously became her “special occasion” dinner entree since it was impossible for her to find in Taipei. Granted, you likely won't miss western food all that much, since Taiwan is known for some of best cuisine in the world.
6. A Few Photos & Momentos from Home
Even though digital photos are often the norm these days, bringing a few photos to post in your apartment and or your/office along with a few momentos from home will come in handy. Not only is it nice to remind yourself of home and your family, but you will want them to share with your students and colleagues. You will find that many of your students and your colleagues will ask questions and want to know about your family, hometown and your life in general back home. Having some physical items to show and share will go a long way in satisfying their curiousity!
Even if you don’t bring these items, you’ll survive and have an amazing time. These are just a few things I wished I had a heads up on before I departed. If you’ve lived in Taiwan and have any suggestions, let us know!
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About the author Felicia Braverman: A worldwide traveler who has taught English in Taiwan and Argentina and surfed on 4 continents, Felicia Braverman graduated from Texas State University in 2007 with a major in Teacher Certification. She spent countless hours in classrooms in North America and then took this experience south to Buenos Aires, Argentina where she taught English in 2008. In 2009, Felicia moved to Taipei, Taiwan to teach ESL to high school students and she has spent the past five years assisting educators with lining up teaching jobs abroad.