One of the hardest things for a lot of would-be TEFL teachers is deciding which country to head to. You might have to choose between a list of several, and from afar, it can be tricky to identify the differences.
Today's article is the first in a series of posts about various countries, and we're starting with why you should teach English in Taiwan.
We're going to look at some of the top reasons people love teaching English and living in Taiwan.
Low Cost Of Living
Not only does Taiwan have a low cost of living, but it has a comparatively high quality of life to go with it. Taiwan's prices might compare with countries in southeast Asia such as Thailand or Vietnam, yet the quality of life is much higher. In terms of "bang for buck", Taiwan does very well.
While the country's capital, Taipei, costs considerably more than the rest of the country (yet cost is still low), the convenience and lifestyle you can have in Taipei is well worth it. The whole island is one of those places that is small enough to not cause you to feel overwhelmed or insignificant, but large enough and busy enough to never be bored.
You'll notice this almost from day one. Taiwanese locals are incredibly friendly and welcoming, especially to newcomers. The less time you've spent in Taiwan, the more they'll fall over themselves to help you feel at ease. The culture itself is one that puts a lot of importance on family and helping others without expecting help in return (it's generally assumed you'll pay it forward), so it's deep-rooted in every Taiwanese person.
Don't be surprised if you ask someone a question, and if they can't answer, they ask five people they know until they get the answer.
Variety Of Food
Food in Taiwan is excellent, and it's not just the local food that is great. In most cities, you can find cuisine from all over the world, and Taipei has top quality restaurants. Remember the quality of living we mentioned earlier? Food is a big part of it.
Don't be put off by the smell of Stinky Tofu, there really is an abundance of delicacy in Taiwan, especially in the night markets.
Easy Visa Process
Getting a visa in Taiwan is easy, and pretty quick too. Upon arrival in the country, you can have a health check done within a week, have a work permit a week or two after that, and your residency and ARC (alien resident card) a further ten days after that. The whole process takes around a month, and aside from the health check, you won't need to attend anything.
Most schools will do everything for their teacher and walk them through the process, so for you it's just a case of waiting and signing the required documents.
Even the health check is easy, as many hospitals have English signs and instructions specifically for teachers doing their health checks. If you have to do your check without any help from your school, the hospitals themselves are full of helpful people.
Compared to other countries, the visa process in Taiwan is very straightforward and a walk in the park.
It's very rare that Taiwan reaches lower than 10 degrees C in the winter, and summer sees most days in the 30's. Spring and Autumn are the best seasons, as they are a perfect balance between warm weather, lower humidity, and cool breezes.
For those who want to avoid blistering cold weather and love long summers, Taiwan is the climate for you.
With the added bonus of 2-3 typhoon holidays a year (and a Typhoon is a spectacle to behold as well), the climate has a lot to offer.
Taiwan is considered a great hub for travelling around Asia. The Taipei - Hong Kong flight path is one of the busiest in the world, which gives you access to almost every part of Asia with a maximum of one change.
Taiwan is also about 3-4 hours or less from every popular destination in Asia, whether it's Thailand to the west, The Philippines and Malaysia to the south, or Japan, Korea, and China to the north.
Taiwan itself being so small means that staying domestic and traveling around this beautiful island is also very convenient.
While we're on the subject of travelling around Taiwan, the scenery in some parts of the island is breathtaking. There's a reason why Portuguese sailors first named it Isle de Formosa (Beautiful Island). With the central mountain range dominating a lot of the landscape, the sub-tropical climate means that the foliage covering the island is thick, green, and beautiful.
Check out some of these photos as examples.
Taiwan was recently voted the second safest country in the world, and it's easy to tell why. There is just not a lot of crime in Taiwan. On top of that, the police force is well funded and particularly in cities, you don't have to go far to see police. This isn't a bad thing at all, as police are very friendly and helpful.
It's not surprising to find yourself going home late at night and forgetting how in other countries, you might walk faster or take a taxi. It's very rare to feel unsafe at night, even by yourself, in Taiwan.
More To Discover
Of course, we've only picked the best of the bunch for this article, and we've left plenty more for you to discover. Like a good movie trailer, this is only a teaser. We are definitely not saying that Taiwan is hands down the best country in Asia, but if you're wondering whether or not it is worth visiting or becoming a teacher in, then the answer is a resounding yes.