Moving to Taipei

I’ve received a scholarship to study Chinese in Taiwan, which means that I’ll be moving to Taipei in mid-august, and staying there until sometime in june next year.

I’ve been browsing the internet, trying to find as much relevant information as possible, and I’ve found some pretty good sites, but I’m still interested in hearing if anyone here has any experience with living in (or even visiting) Taipei.

My main worry is finding a place to live. Since I don’t speak or read Chinese (yet), I have to rely on the few English websites that exist, and I fully expect to get the tourist squeeze if I use those. I know that the school I’ve been accepted to has some sort of notice board (hopefully with English notices), where it should be possible to find something, but I’m not too comfortable with getting on a plane without any preliminary housing arrangements. Any advice would be welcome.

In the same vein, I’m also interested in hearing about Taipei itself. What are the different areas of the city? I’ll be spending the first week or so sightseeing and getting the feel of the place, so if there’s anything special I should see or do, please let me know. Later on, I’d like to see some of the other parts of Taiwan, so I’d welcome recommendations for that too.

How’s the weather? Should I pack any warm clothes, or is it sandals and shorts all year?

Anything else I should know? Any advice is welcome. :)

You really need to find a group of expats to live near and work with for details. Focus on expat websites as opposed to “visiting guides”. Since you’re from Denmark, be ready for heat, humidity, and depending on what part of Taipei you’re in, polluted air. Taipei weather is sometimes affected by mainland China’s terrible pollution… which is bad beyond belief. If you start getting sinus infections, get it treated right away. Every family member of mine that went to China has ended up with nasty mold/fungal impaction in their sinus’s due to the particulate pollution combined with organisms that thrive there. They suffered permanent damage and are still struggling to keep on top of it. While China is is vibrant and amazing culturally, the air quality is horrendous, non-bottled water is laced with chemicals and lead, and the local food is often laced with huge amounts of pesticides and insecticides.

That being said, Taiwan is generally cleaner than China so that was more of a warning about the mainland. If you’re going to vacation at all, check out the Philippines. Very cheap, very beautiful. Just stay away from the politically unstable areas of the Philippines. If you like, I’ll ask my sister where they went for vacation. It was so nice they didn’t want to leave.

These will help get you started:

Thanks for the tips and the links. I’ve already found a few expat forums and websites, but not the ones you link to.

I probably won’t be travelling outside of Taiwan for the duration that I’m there, though, since I’m on a limited budget. I do plan to travel around the island a bit, if I have the time.