FRIDAY, 13 FEBRUARY 2004
I went to Korea as someone with nothing to lose – except of course communion with the people I cared about, a particular brand of beer, and perhaps the unique South African landscape. The longer I stayed in Korea, however, the more I began to hold on to things I didn’t have in South Africa before I went to Korea – a job, an income, and a place I could call home, even if it were only temporary.
Of course, these things weren’t enough to keep me in Korea. The people and the things that I had missed in my own country proved to be a much more powerful magnet. In South Africa I could once again enjoy a Black Label, smell barbeque on a Saturday night, and see my family every few weeks. The work, the income and my domestic situation in South Africa did not of course weigh up to what I had gotten used to in Korea.
From the beginning, my situation in Taiwan was similar to what I had had in Korea. I had a decent job, I was making money, and I had a much better residence than I had expected (except for the lack of windows).
What is the difference then between the life I had in Korea and my life in Taiwan? My teaching schedule in Taiwan is better – fewer hours and a wider variety of classes, I have a better domestic situation – especially my current apartment, but the most significant difference is personal projects.
I started doing in Taiwan what I had just talked about in Korea. I do things here to motivate myself, to keep myself going when there isn’t much else to inspire me. I continued making notes about my life when I got here, and this habit picked up a notch when I purchased my first computer in June 1999. Then there were photography, musical instruments, English textbooks, Chinese studies, and for the past year a specific literary project.
My projects and the fact that I have enough free time are more than anything else responsible for my life being better in Taiwan than it had been in Korea.