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.
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.
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.