Yes. It’s true.

It’s a damned airport here. If expats aren’t coming then they’re going. In and out, in and out, day in and day out.

I know that quick friendships and constant moving are part of the ex-pat lifestyle. It is part of what we are all attracted to. The constant jet setting here, dropping in there. It’s great.

But damn. Does everybody have to leave?

Over half the people I used to hang out with are gone, and four more are leaving this  week.

I’ve never made this much effort to make and maintain friendships in my life with so little return.

When I first came to Taiwan  I knew no one.  I made a point of going to every English-speaking event I could find and getting myself out there. You have to if you want to have friends. You really have to give it the best effort you’ve got.  I learned a lot about talking to people. I met hundreds of people, literally. I learned to make friends and acquaintances easily and quickly. I learned how to reach out in ways I never knew before.

But its crazy here, though. The constant socializing and endless stream of new people.

I’ve now  had the experience of running into someone at some party or another, and realizing they know me, but I don’t know them. And then realizing, that we’re already FB friends, but it was so long ago that we met, that little recognition remains. Usually I am the one being recognized. Virtual strangers come up to greet me by name and I have that panicky feeling I should know who they are.

I have now twice had to ask someone if we’re already FB friends, ony to have them confirm we are.  I’ve also had the unpleasant experience of unfriending a few randoms only to run into them months later.  Neither experience is pleasant.

I enjoy it, don’t get me wrong. Meeting new people is exciting . Who knows who you’ll meet, right?

But my god. How often can you have the same “getting to know you” conversation week after week?

I thought it was me for a long time.  That I was strange, or giving off some kind of weird desperation vibe, putting people off.

Then lately, I’ve shared these feelings with some other expats, only to find that they feel the same way! That some won’t even go to social events anymore because they are so sick to death of it. One friend told me Taiwan is like a revolving door. Another, that Taiwan is known as the airport of Asia.

What gives, Taiwan? Is it the constant stream of students and English teachers? Business men and ABCs come to explore their roots? Whatever it is, it seems that after a year or two most don’t want to stay. Maybe its the constant feeling of alienation from the local population, or the sense of being so very, very far from home. I’ve speculated about it a lot and have concluded it’s a combination of these things.

In Poland, I was constantly meeting new people too, but it was different somehow. I had a core group of friends with whom I still talk.  It’s true that many of my friends in Poland have now left there too, but many remain.  My whole experience there was utterly different from what goes on in Taiwan.

This week its nothing but Going Away Party after Going Away Party. It’s nice to have friends scattered all over the world, but it would also be nice to have some friends that stay. Friends I can count on to be around long enough to build a foundation for deeper relationships and deeper connections.

I miss those connections. Not only do they ground me, but they bring me true joy. We were never meant to walk this earth alone.

So my last thoughts on this are, if you’re coming for a year, you’ll have the time of your life. But if you plan on making Taiwan your home, know that you will find yourself reconsidering in less time than you ever thought possible.

Because if you stay longer, your life will soon become a long melancholy line of good byes. The experience is great and not to be missed for anything in the world, but no adventure comes without its bittersweet moments.

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