Michael A. Turton
I want to come. What should I do? Crime and Safety
What to Bring Health
Finding, Renting, Housing Money
Water Posts and Telecommunications
Transportation Personal Services
Recreation and Travel Learning Chinese
The Social Side Food in Taiwan
Driving in Taiwan Bringing Kids?
Keeping a Pet Living in Taiwan, Returning to America
Email Me Back to Teaching English in Taiwan home page
An outlet of the famous Lailai snack you miss this stuff?

My heartlfelt thanks to the Texas Department of Education, Region XIII Educator Certification Program,
whose brilliant policies inspired this page.

Living in Taiwan and
Coming Back to America

Returning to the United States after a few years in Taiwan can be a wrenching experience.  When I got back and moved down to Austin, Texas, I applied to the alternative teacher certification program there, thinking that with my diverse background and wide range of skills, any program would be happy to have me.  Despite my qualifications (ten years teaching English, experience as a teacher trainer, former Peace Corps volunteer, high school and college teaching experience, etc) I could not make the cut of 250 candidates out of 750.  They apparently found 250 people better-qualified to enter a teacher training program than this writer.  The program's hilarious position was that they could only take 250 because more trainees would have problems finding work.  This is in a state with a teacher shortage of 40,000 and growing.

Now you know why they are short 40,000 teachers in Texas.  As if to underscore the stupidity of the system in Texas, Austin was forced to implement large salary increases the year I left, because the city is short hundreds of teachers. Perhaps I should be happy I didn't get the opportunity to work there.... 

The moral is: if you have strong qualifications, go to another state.  The program in Texas has very serious problems.

Postscript: in May of '01 I ran into another person, a former Peace Corps teacher with teaching certification in three countries, foreign languages, MA in biology, who wanted into the program as a science teacher and was also rejected.  What does it take?

Trinkets galore.....and you forgot to bring some home, didn't you?

ost of you will not have experiences as insane as the one I had with the state of Texas, but here are some you will find quite disconcerting.
1) "Nobody will listen to me!"

The hardest thing is not being able to share the experience.  Most people will simply not be able to connect, and they really won't want to listen, either.  Even if they would listen, they can't help you get a handle on it.  That is why one of the best things you can do to make things better for yourself is AT ALL COSTS get your parents or other family members to come over.  Fly to the US and bring them back at gunpoint if necessary.  Try it with good friends as well. That way, you will always have someone close to you who has at least a dim idea of your experience here.

Basically, for the rest of your life, you will have to keep this experience to yourself, and share it only with other people who lived for a while in Taiwan or in similar circumstances.  To a certain extent this will separate you from the people around you, who cannot share a really crucial part of your life.  This is one reason why so many of us marry Taiwanese.

Get on the net.  I get lots of email from fellow long-termers who miss Taiwan.  Such networks can be very sustaining.
Remember this? Picking out sweets in from the vendors along Kenting Road at night.

2) "It's like it was a dream!"
America is a fantasyland almost completely insulated from the outside world.  Unless you make of point of trying to keep in touch with it, the world will never pop up in your life when you are in the United States.  When you return to the US, Taiwan will vanish from your memory. It will seem as if it were another life, and another person had lived it. That's why I recommend you take copious photographs, especially video, so you can revisit your other self.  If only you could record the smell....
Taxis lunge down Tihua Street in probably don't miss the traffic. Much.

3) "I made a mistake.  I shouldn't have come home."

If you really loved Taiwan, as I did, this feeling will never go away.  Deal with it.
4)  I'm having trouble finding a job.

Don't be stupid.  Get references and everything BEFORE you leave Taiwan.  Remember, the longer you stay in Taiwan, the harder it will be to find a job when you get back here.  This is especially true if you are over 35.  No matter what level of brains, talent and skill you have.
Remember the colorful shops.....
5)  Oooops!  Taxes!

Be sure to file your taxes in both countries.  Bring back your tax forms -- foreign taxes paid are deductible from taxes in the US.


I want to come. What should I do? Crime and Safety Recreation and Travel Bringing Kids?
What to Bring Health Learning Chinese Keeping a Pet
Finding, Renting, Housing Money The Social Side Living in Taiwan, Returning to America
Water Posts and Telecommunications Food in Taiwan
Transportation Personal Services Driving in Taiwan Back to Teaching English in Taiwan home page