Expat Interview With Jenna - US Expat Living in Taiwan

Published: 3 Jun at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Taiwan
Jenna Longoria is a writer, yogi, and teacher with an incurable case of wanderlust. A native Texan, she has been hopping around teaching/traveling for the past 4 years. Honduras and Indonesia are among places she has called home, and she is currently an expat living and teaching in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. When she is not in the classroom with her adorable kindergartners, you can find her hiking, biking, camping, practicing yoga, or reading a Tom Robbins novel. Jenna's expat blog is called Nomad Notions (see listing here)

Meet Jenna - American expat living in Taiwan
Meet Jenna - American expat living in Taiwan

Here's the interview with Jenna...

Where are you originally from?
Houston, Texas

In which country and city are you living now?
Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I have been here 4 months. I plan to stay here at least 2 years.

Why did you move and what do you do?
I moved to Taiwan because it has one of the most competitive markets for teaching English. Additionally, the cost of living is low, the country is extremely expat friendly, and it’s a great travel hub. I chose Kaohsiung in particular because the cost of living is cheaper than Taipei, the city is smaller, and it is close to the beach and mountains.

Did you bring family with you?
I moved here with my boyfriend.

Me with my kindergarten students in Gracias, Honduras.
Me with my kindergarten students in Gracias, Honduras.
How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Honestly, this is the third time I have made a move to work in a foreign country, so it just keeps on getting easier and easier. Moving to another country, however, is still tough regardless of how experienced a traveler is. This time around, my boyfriend and I were very well prepared and knew what to expect (somewhat), so that made the transition smoother.

This is, however, the first time I moved to a country without a job. In the past I had a teaching job lined up before the move. Needless to say, the leap of faith involved in this move was a little nerve rattling, but in the end well worth it because I was able to pick a job after visiting the school in person, instead of jumping into one I accepted online.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
Yes, very easy. Expats tend to stick together. Although we spend most of our time with other expats, we do hang out with locals as well. I joined a yoga studio and met some very nice local friends there, and my boyfriend has made some Taiwanese friends at his badminton club.

On a field trip with my students in Surabaya, Indonesia.
On a field trip with my students in Surabaya, Indonesia.
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Taiwan is great for anything outdoors. We love to cycle and camp, and are always on the road cycling to some destination in the mountains or on the beach. Many people rock climb, wake board, dive and snorkel. There is also a big music scene here; there is always some sort of concert or music festival taking place.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
In a nutshell, Kaohsiung is comfortable. I have everything I need here. The city is extremely expat friendly, and the people here go out of their way to help foreigners. Plus, there are plenty of places (like CostCo) with food items from back home.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
Way cheaper to live here! I only pay 5% in taxes, am paid about the same as a teacher would be back home (working less hours as well), and the cost of an apartment, food, etc. is about 1/3 of what it is in the States. It’s refreshing to live comfortably and save at the same time, without having to work a 40-hour workweek. An added bonus is that healthcare is extremely affordable.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The language barrier and the pollution can sometimes be frustrating. Thankfully, once out of the city, the air is much cleaner. As for the language barrier-not so easily fixed.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Come prepared. Bring at least $3,000 US in savings. You will need it for the first two months of transition while finding a job.

Snorkeling in Utila, Honduras
Snorkeling in Utila, Honduras
What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Communicating with my landlords, haha. No, the hardest part of being an expat is being away from your family. That feeling of missing your loved ones never goes away.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
Wow. This one is tough, and honestly something that I have avoided thinking about. Every time I go home, I’m itching to leave again after a month or two. When I decide to move home, however, I’m assuming I will be ready, and that will make it easier. But I know it will definitely take some getting used to.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Do your homework. Research the school and country you plan to work in. Don’t arrive unpleasantly surprised. It creates a headache for everyone involved in the situation.
  2. Move with savings. It’s nice to have a little extra cash tucked away when moving to a new country. So do whatever you can before the move-bartend, deliver pizzas, sacrifice the iPhone for a couple of months, and save that dinero so you don’t have to live pay check to pay check.
  3. Get to know the language. You don’t need to be fluent, but it makes it loads easier when you know a little bit about the language, and how to say a few token words upon arrival.
  4. Forums are your friends. Find travel forums in the city you are moving to. This is a great way to meet friends, find apartments, get advice, etc.
  5. Go with an open mind.

With my boyfriend hiking in Taiwan
With my boyfriend hiking in Taiwan
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
Nomad Notions is a blog about expat living, teaching, and tramping. I started writing it 4 years ago during my first foreign teaching assignment in Surabaya, Indonesia. I have since expanded and updated it with tales of my travels and expat experiences from many different countries.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
You can contact me by visiting my blog, or follow me on Twitter @Nomad_Notions

Jenna blogs at http://nomad-notions.com which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Nomad Notions has an ExpatsBlog.com listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Jenna, please also drop her a quick comment below.
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Comments » There is 1 comment

Brenda wrote 9 years ago:

I have following Jenna's articles for awhile and I find them informative and entertaining.

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