Written by Sarah Phipps, (UNC Chapel Hill) Student Correspondent CET Taiwan, Fall 2018
I have been in Taiwan for about 1.5 weeks, and I’ve already formed several habits that I don’t see myself giving up anytime soon.
A dependence on 7-11 and Family Mart: Taiwan has more convenience stores per capita than any other nation. On my 0.4 mile walk from my apartment to the metro, I pass multiple. These stores make life in Taiwan much more, well, convenient. You can pay bills, send and receive packages, purchase fresh food, and even concert tickets. My go to breakfast is two five-spice tea eggs and a triangle rice ball. These stores offer a lot of comfort when you initially arrive in Taiwan, and they immediately became a part of my daily routine. Life hack: be sure to save all of your receipts and stickers, they can be redeemed for the lottery and free prizes!
Spending time in the park: In the middle of the city I live in, there is a beautiful park. With my spare time, I’ve been able to explore it extensively. In the mornings, elders in the community can be found doing stretches. In the evenings, young adults can be found walking their dogs, or meeting to smoke a cigarette with a friend. It’s neat to see what Taiwanese people do in their spare time, and speaks to their culture. Life hack: be sure to purchase mosquito spray soon after you arrive in Taipei, or else you will not enjoy your time in the park!
The local activity center: There is a public sports complex less than a mile away from my apartment. Since I arrived 2 weeks before classes start, I’ve had a decent bit of free time on my hands. I’ve filled in a lot of it by going to the gym. You pay as you go at 45NTD for 70 minutes, so you don’t have a binding gym membership that could potentially result in wasted money. The gym has most of the machines I am used to using in my school gym. Life hack: be sure to bring your own sweat towel, if you don’t you’ll need to purchase one there for 50NTD.
The Metro: Everyone calls it the “MRT”, and it is a great and affordable way to get around Taipei. I take the MRT to and from school, work, and any other activities I choose to do that are not in the immediate vicinity of my apartment. I have traveled in the morning, mid-afternoon, and late evenings – there is always an abundance of individuals riding alongside me. Life hack: be sure to never drink liquid or eat food on the MRT, you will be reprimanded.
The “Easy Card”: When you arrive, CET gives you a National Taiwan University student card, and on the back is an Easy Card. This is specifically for the MRT, but it can also be used at a variety of shops throughout Taipei that do not take credit cards. You can refill it with money as often as you’d like, and it simplifies transactions. Life hack: you often do not “swipe” cards in Taiwan, but rather place them on the reader!
I hope hearing of these habits allows you to predict what your lifestyle will be once you arrive in Taipei, and I hope the life hacks allow you to not make the same mistakes I have! It is a beautiful city, filled with people. There is plenty to do, and you have access to it all. Let me know what your first five habits ended up being!
For more from Sarah, follow her personal blog sarahjeanphipps.com/blog.