Home for Lunar New Year; A Millennial Expat

A few days away from calling it a wraps on my Chinese New Year vacation in Rochester and heading back to Taiwan.

Traditionally, Taiwanese (and Chinese) celebrate the lunar new year by heading to their childhood home and spending time with family and extended family. Either the home they grew up in or their parents grew up in. In Taiwan, many young professionals made the move north during the economic boom in the 1980’s, leaving the traditional southern culture for the rapidly advancing northern counties. This means that for lunar new year, many young families return to Tainan and Khaosiung for the week to the homes of parents and grandparents.

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Making my own New Year door decorations!

Which is particularly unfortunate that the recent earthquake occurred when it did, a few days before the holiday, impeding on many peoples holiday plans, and bringing tragedy along with the most important holiday of the year. My heart and thoughts go out to those who were effected.

But this is not a post to explain the CNY holiday, or the horror of earthquakes. But the principal of returning to home that CNY so heavily revolves around. Since moving to Taiwan two and a half years ago, I have been home three times, which seems like a lot and feels very little. By “home” I mean my childhood home in Rochester. As a child and a young adult, home is supposed to be a constant, something that never changes, as much as we may as individuals, home is supposed to be our control, while we, nurtured by constants our whole life, then and subjected to dependent and independent variables once we are let go from the nest, still expect the controls to be there when we return.

This visit home I was fortunate to see some of my friends whom I haven’t seen since leaving the country. And this theme of home seemed to permeate through all aspects of our conversations. After high school all my friends choose separate colleges, none of them local, and after university we all went our separate ways to different parts of the country, searching for home. We all had different experiences from what worked and what didn’t, and since our initial post university moves, have moved again. And still… it seems that all my friends have struggled with trying to find home.

I noticed that when I am in the United States, I refer to Taiwan as home, “When I get back home…” and when I am in Taiwan I refer to the United States as home, “I’ll go home for Chinese New Year…” So which one is it?

Taiwan will always be a home for me, a place that has a special place in my heart. Where I learned so much about the world and myself and have had invaluable experiences and I can’t imagine there is another place on earth I could have had the amazing growth I have had here.

But,

it’s not home. I have heard from a few expats in Taiwan, that once they arrived here, they just knew that Taiwan was home, it spoke to them as a place to stay, settle. These are people who have traveled and lived abroad in many countries and for whatever reason they found this idea of home in Taiwan.

I have not had this epiphany yet. Not just with Taiwan, but everywhere I have traveled and everywhere I have lived. Maybe it is something that comes with age, but after talking to a few of my friends, I think that this feeling is generational. It is now at the point when us “Millennials” are starting to “settle” (get married, buy homes, have kids, etc). I feel almost as if I am watching this phenomena from outer space and there is this great divide in my generation of those who, have their family and career, and those, like me, who are lost. As we get older, instead of this gap converging it seems like it is growing wider and wider.

I think there is a sense of disconnect that we have experienced like no previous generation has. Things have changed so rapidly in our (twenty-something) lifetime alone, that we have been caught in this old world that we grew up in (memorizing landline phone numbers, playing outside, chalkboards and overhead projectors) and the world that we have been forced to come of age in. I think the “connected disconnect” has hit the millennials particularly hard because of this. We got caught in the middle, and now we don’t know where to go or if there is a place for us in the world.

6 thoughts on “Home for Lunar New Year; A Millennial Expat

  1. Just finished reading your all your blog posts up to date! Made me wish I am part of this amazing adventure/experience.
    Also, if you don’t mind me asking…how did secure the teaching position in Taiwan? I have tried various websites/agencies myself but that were looking for native English speakers in particular. Thanks in advance!

    • Hi! Thanks for reading!
      I initially got my job in Taiwan through a TEFL recruiting company called Reach To Teach. After, I found my current position on a website for Taiwan classified ads; http://www.tealit.com
      I don’t want to discourage your search but most schools in Taiwan do require you to be a native English speaker. I would still look though, there are even a lot of people in the big cities like Taipei and Khaosiung who look for private tutors of other languages. Don’t give up!

  2. I cannot tell you how much I relate to this whole heartily. Over the past few years I’ve come to realize that my childhood home may no longer be home in the traditional sense. My entire family is there, so is Jake’s, but whenever I go back, it doesn’t feel the same as it used to. As you know, we’re getting married in 3 months and I know it’s after that that we should be starting to have kids and “settling down” but I don’t think we’re there yet. And I’ve always said I don’t want kids until we move back to Oregon…but those odds are looking more and more slim to match timelines and I’m just so conflicted as to where “home” is. Will we ever figure it out?

    • Wow 3 months away! You must be so excited! I’ve come to the decision to move back to Rochester this fall and try to get some things figured out. And I’ve been coming to understanding that going home isn’t giving up and it isn’t stopping, I still have so much time to do everything I want to do. I think that today the traditional sense of home is really not applicable, especially for people like us. Many places can make one home, and many homes can make a person complete.

      • It’s exciting and stressful haha At times I wish we had eloped 😉 That’s exciting you’re moving back to the states! You absolutely still have a lot of time to do everything you want. Going home might just give you a new place to jump off at! I just love living somewhere different (at least for the people in my life; it’s no Taiwan 🙂 ) and am not ready to live near everything in my life again.

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