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A friend in need is a friend indeed

Yesterday, I said that by this time today, I would hopefully be able to tell you about the wonderful new apartment I’d found close the campus. Sadly, that’s not true at all. I’ve found temporary lodging reasonably close the university, which means I can continue my hunt for an apartment tomorrow, but I’m only a little bit closer to finding somewhere to live than I was this morning.

It started out quite badly this morning with my leaving the hostel, heading for the underground station from which a bus would take me and another student (Joy) to Linkou township close the campus. For half an hour, I thought I had misunderstood something about the directions, because nobody was there to meet me (and nobody answered phone calls either). This was solved about forty minutes later when it turned out that Joy had overslept, but was now on her way. I don’t consider this a problem, though, because as it would turn out and the topic of this post implies, she offered invaluable help during the day and I’m greatly indebted to her for that.

Arriving in Linkou, we met with a guy who was a representative for a housing agency or something like that, and he helped us find different places we had checked out beforehand. We were unable to contact some of the landlords, and the other apartments were out of the question for other reasons (too big and thus too expensive, or old and dirty but affordable). Perhaps I had evaluated the situation badly and apartments would be a lot more expensive than planned?

Not so. The last apartment we checked was quite nice and was also reasonably priced, but when we were about to sign the contract, I suddenly noticed that my mobile phone said “Emergency calls only”, which of course meant that my provider had no coverage of the area. The area in question turned out to be very local indeed, and the phone worked outside the room, but not anywhere inside it. This meant that nobody could call me while I’m home, which would be very bad indeed. In addition to this, the room has no windows, which I think is okay, but combined with the phone problem, it simply isn’t worth it. I decided to continue searching.

At this point, it was around six o’clock, which meant that I would get no more looking around today, and besides, Joy had been with me all day and didn’t deserve to drag me around any longer. I had two options: either going back to Taipei and find some temporary lodging there (very inconvenient since I would’ve had to go back here again first thing tomorrow) or check with the university if they could accept me for only one night. The second option turned out to be impossible for some reason, so I was resigned to going back to Taipei with a heavy heart.

Then the landlord from the last apartment we checked called (the one without phone coverage) and said that I could stay in the apartment I didn’t want for two days if I wanted to, without signing or paying for anything. He said that another tenant would be moving out on Monday, and if that apartment was better, I could rent that one. He also said that I didn’t have to promise anything, I could live here for two days even if I decided ultimately to go somewhere else. So here I am, with somewhere to stay at least for tonight and tomorrow, and my plan is to keep on searching. I simply just don’t dare signing a contract for half a year without being satisfied with the accommodation.

Today’s events in some ways illustrate what I like most about Taiwan. As a foreigner, I’m welcomed with open arms and most people are very friendly and helpful, even if they don’t have to. Joy could have said she needed to go a lot earlier and the landlord had no obligation whatsoever to offer me to stay in the room for a couple of days. But everybody so far chose the most friendly and welcoming approach, making me feel a lot better than I would’ve felt otherwise. I’d be lying if I said I was comfortable and happy, butit could have been immeasurably much worse.

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