The name for this blog, meiguotaiwanren is the closest I could come to a Chinese equivalent of American-Taiwanese. Since in the U.S., I’m a Taiwanese-American, I figured the equivalent here would be the reverse. Of course in Taiwanese, instead of mei-guo (beautiful country in Chinese) standing for “America” there is bee-gok, which I think means the same thing.

An ironic thing is that Taiwan, which first discovered by Portugese explorers, was called “La Ilha Formosa” — “the beautiful island” in Portugese apparently. Therefore, the two countries that make up my nationality have been called beautiful by those from opposite ends of the earth. I would have to agree with them.

I was born and grew up in the United States with infrequent visits to Taiwan in the summer. I think I’ve come here perhaps five times for no more than a few weeks in my entire life. And yet, my grandfather’s house here always felt like home to me. Home is a funny concept– the place I grew up in is home in the sense that it was what I knew first– falls with the leaves changing color, piled on the sides of the streets, snowy winters with all the colors of blue and white that can blind the eyes in the morning, and springs with crocus, daffodils, and cherry blossoms drifting down to the new fresh uncut grass. Although I knew it first, the small town I grew up in never quite felt like home to me. We were sort of misfits, and being weird, I tended to feel quite self-conscious.

Coming to Taiwan, I discovered more of my considerable extended family. Even though we often didn’t speak the same language, I will never forget the kindness and generosity shown to me just for being an unintentional member of our large clan of relatives. With the family, I was accepted as I came, even though I suspect I was a bit of a spoilt brat who didn’t know how to use chopsticks, or say “please”– (I did learn to use chopsticks by my second… or maybe third? visit).

As my cousin puts it, I’m very American. And yet, in America, I’ve often felt quite Taiwanese, even though I didn’t entirely know what that meant, other than that my parents had high academic and personal expectations for me and we looked different from everyone else in town. I only knew I was “Taiwanese” thanks to one of my favorite uncles who cheerily took us out for dumplings when we came to visit. He asked me what I was, and had me repeat after him a number of times with enthusiasm until I said it to his satisfaction, that I am Taiwanese.

So here I am, in Taiwan, figuring out what being “Taiwanese” means. At the moment, politically, Taiwan seems to be figuring out what being “Taiwanese” means too, so at least I have company. This blog will chronicle my personal explorations to see where this year’s teaching, adventuring, and writing will take me.

The image for the header is my favorite flower in Taiwan. (My apologies for the non-sophisticated photoshopping). It’s a kind of jasmine grown in hedges with a sweet scent that tends to stop me in my tracks with wonder.

ETA 4/08:  All photos until June 2007 were shot with a Canon A75 that had knocks, scratches, and was kindly returned to me by a brother and sister in New York City when I dropped it by my local ATM.  All photos from July onwards were shot with a Sony DSC H1 and all thanks go to my uncle for helping me get it.

ETA 4/13: Apologies for my extended absence from my blog.  I do get comments, and try to respond to them.  However, if your comment is vague, and the website you set in your profile looks suspiciously incongruous, I may mistake your comment for spam.  If I delete it by accident, I do apologize.

Also, all photographs and writing are my own. If you’d like to allude to anything here, please link to it, and if you’d like to directly post something, please ask me for permission first. Otherwise, your karma will be bad and I may send mosquitos after you.


29 Responses to “About…”

  1. February 8, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    I have since learned that the terminology for foreign-born Taiwanese/Chinese is “hua chao” (after many friendly fumbling discussions with shopkeepers and people selling stuff on the street).

    I’ve also changed the header photograph– what do you think? One of these lanterns is not quite like the other…

  2. April 21, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    The header and theme have changed a few times now… After the lanterns were the mountains I visited on Christmas with my cousin, and now, I think that’s a tea flower.

    If you know of a free wordpress theme that has a custom image banner header that supports flexible width blogspace and widgets, please clue me in! I’m still not satisfied, since I want something that doesn’t snip off the edges of my photos, but still works with a significant text block and has space for toys on the side…

  3. October 13, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    Oh… and here I thought you were an American who gave up your passport and became a Taiwanese citizen like Poagao. I guess if your family’s from here, you can have both citizenships!

  4. October 16, 2007 at 5:13 am

    I looked into it, but haven’t gone through the trouble of applying for joint citizenship as of yet…

  5. 5 hsin
    October 21, 2007 at 4:07 pm


    I was wondering, what kind of work are you doing in Taiwan? I’m a xiao hua qiao (meaning I was born in Taiwan but moved to the states early) and I’m thinking about going back to Taiwan. I have a US teaching license and a BA from university, so I was thinking about teaching English…except I heard that it’s pretty hard for Asians to be taken seriously as “real” English speakers. Have you found this to be so? What kind of work do you recommend looking into (I’m graduating this year, so entry-level on…everything). I appreciate any tips you can give me, thanks!

  6. April 11, 2008 at 10:37 am

    That’s fascinating. Some of my American born Taiwanese friends find it difficult to feel at home at either the states or Taiwan. This could be a confusing thing as a child, and a meaningful self-exploration process as an adult.

  7. April 14, 2008 at 3:38 am

    It is kind of an odd thing– the idea of home. There ends up being quite a lot of dissection on me from people I talk to sometimes. My new roommate was just telling me I was really Taiwanese after we were talking about family. When she first met me, she was asking if I was “100%” Taiwanese. Kind of an odd question.

  8. July 30, 2008 at 5:06 am

    Wow, a totally kindred ABT (American-Born Taiwanese) soul… Stumbled across your website while testing out the new Cuil search engine (, and this paragraph totally caught my attention:

    “I was born and grew up in the United States with infrequent visits to Taiwan in the summer. I think I’ve come here perhaps five times for no more than a few weeks in my entire life. And yet, my grandfather’s house here always felt like home to me. Home is a funny concept– the place I grew up in is home in the sense that it was what I knew first– falls with the leaves changing color, piled on the sides of the streets, snowy winters with all the colors of blue and white that can blind the eyes in the morning, and springs with crocus, daffodils, and cherry blossoms drifting down to the new fresh uncut grass. Although I knew it first, the small town I grew up in never quite felt like home to me. We were sort of misfits, and being weird, I tended to feel quite self-conscious.”

    Almost completely describes me as well: born and raised in Chattanooga, TN, to beautiful autumns full of leaves changing color, and came to Taiwan while growing up to visit relatives exactly *five* times in the summer for 3-4 weeks at a time (1979, 1981, 1983, 1987, 1992-Chien Tan, a.k.a. “Love Boat”, program) before moving back in Aug 1993, two days after graduating w/ my second degree. The original plan was to study Chinese for a year at the Mandarin Training Center while teaching English on the side (the economy in the USA was quite bad back in 1993…), but that plan kind of morphed into a 2-year plan, 5-year plan, 10-year plan….and basically, I just never left. 🙂 And yes, I’ve been living at what was once my grandfather’s house for the past 14+ years (first year back I lived with my aunt) too, and yes, it always felt like home to me whenever I visited while younger…

    & to top it all off, my prose also tends to be dense & verbose, with excessive use of parentheses, semi-colons, and dashes; though in general, decently spelled as well. 🙂

    Anyway, I almost never bother to leave comments on random people’s blogs, but I felt a connection & thought I’d say hi. If you’re free to meet up some time, would love to do so.

    To hsin: I know your comment was late last year (October 21, 2007 at 4:07 pm), but if you’re still thinking about coming back to TW to teach, send the company I work for your resume ( We don’t discriminate. 🙂 The experiences you describe–i.e., Taiwanese parents wanting “white” teachers as opposed to ABCs or ABTs–were *much* worse when I first arrived, but have improved a *lot* since then. Indeed, I was originally supposed to teach for Hess, one of the biggest buxibans here in TW, when I first arrived, but as soon as they saw I wasn’t caucasian, they apologized and said they couldn’t hire me… :-0 Which ended up being a good thing, cause then The Princeton Review hired me instead, & I got to teach math as opposed to English at a higher rate than what Hess would’ve offered… 😉

    • 9 Hsin
      March 14, 2009 at 4:35 am

      Goodness, I have to check back on sites more than every six months. Thanks for the info, eastdragon; I actually went to grad school to get my M.Ed. but am headed to Taiwan soon! I’ll definitely look into the Princeton Review – mind if I shoot questions your way by email?

      • 10 Xin
        June 21, 2013 at 7:49 am

        Hey Hsin, you probably completed your master by now. I am wondering if you are teaching in TW as that is also my interest. If you are, I would love to chat with you for some info. I will contact you if you leave your email address. Thank you.

  9. November 2, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    I made a mistake, you are not Linda whom I know.

  10. November 2, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    BUt you are welcom to visit my website

    The Ghost and the Tattoo

    DVD adaptation:
    Story by: Amora Sutol
    Producer: Grace Buie contact:
    Narration & Art Direction: Len Choptiany

    A Taiwanese-Canadian woman takes a bus to visit her sister and tend to her garden. A tattoo worn by one of the passengers triggers her reflections on the differences between Eastern and Western concepts of love, sex, marriage, and the role of the individual in society. The Ghost and the Tattoo is an unusually honest and thoughtful expression of the conflict experienced by those brought up in one culture, trying to integrate into another, and allows all of us to see the differences between Easter and Western culture in a profoundly personally way.

    原著:蓮香 Amora Sutol
    美術設計監制:Len Chapitany
    出品人:游惠珠 Grace Buie
    音樂:James Blight
    節目型態:DVD 多元媒體

    心魔和刺青 一位臺灣的加拿大婦人搭乘巴士前往姐姐家幫忙設計庭園。一位同車乘客背上的刺青撩起她感慨東西文化差異的深思:東西方文化在愛、情性、婚姻觀念的差異以及個人在東西方社會裡所擔當的不同角色。筆者以出奇親切的口吻敍述她個人統合文化差異的經驗;道出移民們以出世成長接受的文化但居住於另一文化的社會裡所產生的衝突,觀賞者能從細膩的文筆中品賞出深刻的東西文化的差異。


  11. November 3, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Hi Grace!

    Yup, I’m not the Linda you know, but I’m glad you enjoyed the photos! Your movie sounds interesting and I’m looking forward to checking out your site.


  12. 14 Sagaliba
    November 21, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Enjoy reading your blog.

    “Hua chao” refers to Chinese living abroad in general (not necessarily American). In addition, some Taiwanese prefers to use “Tai chao” (“tai” as in Taiwanese) instead.

    • February 9, 2009 at 9:11 am

      I’m glad you enjoy the blog, Sagaliba! Thanks for clarifying the term “Hua chao”– I did discover lots of Chinese living abroad in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand when I was there. I’ve never heard “Tai chao” before, but I’m glad to know there is a term to specifically distinguish overseas Taiwanese.

  13. December 21, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    I’ve just started reading your blog a few days ago and i enjoy it a lot. The funny thing is i’m Portuguese and i’ve always heard about Formosa island but i’ve always thought this was the Portuguese name for Taiwan and no other country was using it.
    In fact Formosa doesn’t just mean beautiful but also gorgeous. Nowadays, it’s usage is becoming obsolete, mostly used in books. It’s what we call here ” an expensive ” word because nobody uses it anymore, only when you want to emphasize the word ” beautiful ” and that’s why it’s used in books. I’ve never been to Taiwan ( only three times to Hong Kong ) but after reading your blog, Taiwan is now one of my next destinations.
    Merry Christmas!!!!


    • February 9, 2009 at 9:08 am

      Hi Huguito– Thank you for stopping by and clarifying the word “Formosa” from the Portuguese perspective! I’m very fond of “expensive” words (as you can probably tell). I’m so glad that Taiwan is now on your list of places to go now– that has to be the nicest compliment I’ve gotten. I hope the new year has been treating you well. Thanks again for your lovely comment!

  14. 18 kwahlgren
    September 6, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Nice blog, keep up with the writing. I am an American who now lives and teaches in Hsinchu, Taiwan and am very eager to explore not only Taiwan but also the Far East in general.

    Cheers again to your blog,
    Kurt Wahlgren

    • December 6, 2009 at 8:52 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement, Kurt! You might want to check out the Hsinchu social club they have going down there– they seem to have a friendly bunch of expats there. Exploring Taiwan and the Asia in general is wonderful and I highly recommend it!

  15. January 31, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Great blog! I am also an American-born Taiwanese. Before last summer, when I stayed in Taiwan for almost 2 months, I have only visited Taiwan briefly nearly 9 years prior. My experience within just those 7 weeks there endowed me with a longing to return to Taiwan. I am going again in a week to stay for four months–to study in Taipei! Can’t wait to learn more about my heritage, eat hotpot everyday (seriously haha), and actually speak native language [which I don’t often here at home]. Anyway, will be following your blog in the meantime 🙂

  16. 22 tim
    March 11, 2010 at 3:14 am

    “Hot Pots, Oyster Pancakes at the Night Market”……..your making me homesick for Taiwan….
    But wait…
    I’m an American…”Born and Raised”, and my home is in the North East US……but my heart aches for my next trip back to Taiwan……

    When I visit Taiwan (for work or vacation) I feel an “overall sense of calm” I have not been able to find in the US………

    Found your blog looking for pictures of Taiwan ………… (^_^) ……

    the name “Becoming Taiwanese” caught my eye

    • March 11, 2010 at 4:55 am

      I’m afraid I’m homesick for Taiwan as well– though I had moments of homesickness for the NE US when I was there.

      Sometimes I think traveling just gives me more places to miss!

      Oh well, what would a nostalgia kick be without rummaging through my old photo albums and blog drafts?

  17. December 5, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Enjoy your blog and photos. I spent two years in Taipei after college in the early 90s( I am also ABT) and can relate to a lot of your experiences (had that great book on Chinese characters). I am actually back in Taiwan again almost twenty years later with husband and two kids for 9 months. I highly recommend it later on if you can swing it. (My husband works from home)Everything is different now that I am older, more nuanced but still fun and exciting. Kids pick up Chinese so fast. My four year old speaks quite well now after only being here three months and going to the local kindergarten full time. He could speak but five words before we left. I find it easier to connect with my Taiwanese peers now with family and more shared experiences.

    • December 28, 2010 at 5:25 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Patt! I’m glad that you’re enjoying your time back in Taiwan with your children. I think it’s wonderful that they’re getting to learn the language. I think places we’ve been are always new when we experience them again later.

  18. March 24, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the highest quality websites online.
    I will recommend this site!

  19. 28 Joyce
    November 7, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Dear meiguotaiwanren,

    My name is Joyce and I work for is a free one stop website for people preparing to move or working and living overseas. We provide a myriad of services for expatriates and we have over 2,000 articles to help and support the people moving around the world and we are now creating an interview section to help the expats with real life experiences!
    We quite enjoy your blog about living in Taiwan, it is very interesting and informative. Would it be possible to interview you to further share some of your tips and feature some of your first hand experience as an Expat and your interview will be published on our Expat Interview section as a guide for our expat readers. The questions are mainly about the day to day lifestyle of an expat. If it would be possible, could you also send some photographs that we can use?
    Of course, if you accept, we can add a link to your blog or some of your website.
    The questions are enclosed, feel free to respond freely. You can return the doc with your answers if you accept this invitation.
    Thanks in advance and do let me know if you prefer other means to conduct this interview and we would be happy to accommodate your terms.

    Best regards,

  20. 29 Joyce
    November 23, 2016 at 6:22 pm


    My name is Joyce, I am a marketing executive at which is a leading expat information and services website.

    I saw on your blog that you are and expat. I wish to interview you to further share some of your tips. The questions are mainly about the housing, the daily life etc.

    It just takes 5 minutes (or more depending if you have lots to say 🙂

    Of course, if you accept we can add a link to your blog or some of your website.

    If you are interested to participate at this project, please send me an email at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Free Rice

June 2019
« Mar    

Top Posts

Top Clicks

  • None

Blog Stats

  • 111,546 hits

%d bloggers like this: