Go out and explore the world at least once in your lifetime

Traveling to Taiwan has allowed me to explore a culture familiar to me

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Go out and explore the world at least once in your lifetime

Hannah Chern, JagWire editor-in-chief

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When I was young, I remember growing up not being able to see my grandparents as often as all of my friends at school could. My grandparents — both my mom’s and dad’s side — stayed in Taiwan while my parents immigrated to the United States to attend university. I remember every time the teacher asked the class “What did you guys do this weekend?” I would hear my classmates responding “I spent the night at my grandparent’s” or “I got to go shopping with my grandma.” While the majority of my friends’ grandparents lived in the U.S. — some near, some far — I always found it disheartening that I wasn’t able to take a 10 or 30 minute drive to spend the weekend at my grandparent’s. 

Despite not being able to spend the weekend with my grandparents, my parents took me and my little brother to Taiwan every three to four years, and we would spend roughly four weeks there. My grandparents would take us out to the local mall or night markets and fill my stomach with local foods. They would also show us the different subway routes that could take us to different points of Taiwan so that we could see beautiful temples, landmarks and mountains.

My visits to Taiwan have allowed me to see the distinct Asian culture that my parents have incorporated in our home. Because of this, I feel like I live in a mixed environment where I experience a little of both the American and Asian culture. For example, while I am at home or with family I speak Chinese, but when I am at school I speak English. In Taiwan, though, everywhere I went I was able to speak Chinese with people. I also noticed that in Taiwan fresh produce is usually bought at farmers markets instead of a grocery store. Whether it is the language or the method of purchasing fresh produce, the differences between Taiwan and Kansas are substantial, but being able to experience both opens up my mind to different cultures.

Though it is unfortunate that my grandparents don’t live close to me, the opportunity to travel out of the country has widened my perspective of the world because I personally saw and experienced the culture of another country. Of course, growing up, I knew that the world is filled with many different cultures and races, but going out and seeing the country itself gave me an insight into the people and how everything is different compared to home. From the language to the ethnic food to the community, every aspect of Taiwan is unique. 

The next time you get the opportunity to travel out of the country, you should take it. No matter what country you visit, you need to soak in your surroundings and value the culture that is around you. By going out and immersing yourself in a foreign environment, your mind will be open to the fact that there is more to the world than what you are used to.

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