“Are you sure you aren’t homesick?!”
“What’re you doing for Christmas?” has been the most asked question this past month in Taiwan. It’s a big topic of discussion amongst the western/Christian/Catholic community since the holiday has a lot more meaning compared to the average Taiwanese person. At my last job training session, the trainers encouraged us to go out and do xyz on Christmas weekend so we don’t feel depressed and lonely due to FOMO (fear of missing out). Many people were surprised when I told them that my initial plans for Christmas was to do nothing and have a “me” day(s).
To be honest, if it wasn’t for the holiday events at my job, I could’ve easily forgotten all about Christmas (until I log on social media of course). Outside of work related events, my Christmas weekend consisted of taking a day trip to Taipei to watch MMA fights with some friends from my capoeira class on Christmas Eve, and dining out at a Thai restaurant with my coworkers on Christmas Day. That was my dose of holiday fellowship.
While I have no shade towards my family and their traditions, and that it is true that Christmas means [significantly] a lot less to me than it did years ago, I just disagree with the notion of recreating every American tradition while living in Taiwan.
I don’t do this because I joined the “I hate everything about America” club like many self-proclaimed socially concious long-term travelers and expats who constantly rant and rave about how much life is better outside of the country. After all, the only reason why many of us are traveling so freely and landing jobs abroad (especially jobs that we’re technically not qualified to do at home) is because of that US (or insert other western anglophone country) passport if we keep it all the way real.
When I moved to Taiwan, I came here with the intentions to just go with the flow, do as the Romans do, and embrace life in the Far East: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Having that dosage of something that reminds me of home is good, but I really don’t feel the need to recreate it all of the time. I’ve been here for almost six months and so far, I’ve been pretty content with making due with what I have and trying new things
To me, it’s not necessarily the holidays that people crave while living abroad. They crave fellowship. A nice get together where you can stuff your face, laugh, play games and chat about life for a couple hours. I feel like as long as your feeding your dose of that then things will be okay.
For example, on the Moon Festival holiday, I went to gathering at my capoeira instructor’s place, where we grilled food and ate on the rooftop of the house. That easily could’ve been the same atmosphere as barbecuing on American Independence Day, especially since the neighbors down the street were shooting fireworks. The only difference was that this holiday was in October and not July, and instead of being with family members and close friends I was with people I’ve only known for at most a month. The vibes were still good.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times where I miss everyone and certain aspects from home, but having that dosage of fellowship with the people I’ve clicked with while living here has made life here has made all of the difference.