One more for the road

Recently, I’ve made two important decisions and I now feel ready to share them with you. The reason I haven’t said anything publicly before is that I wanted to be sure myself and I wanted to be able to explain myself, which is what I intend to do here. Neither decision was easy, but I hope you can understand my thinking.

用英文寫完之下,我也提供中文版,所以如果你對中文比較熟,也可以按這個連結來看中文版。內容不是一模一樣,但是大概意思是相同的。如果兩個語言都行,請看英文的,因為內容跟我心裡想說的比較接近。

The really short version

These are the two decision: first, I’m not going to complete my university studies in Taiwan, instead I’m going back to Sweden to complete my degree this autumn. Second, I’m moving back to Gaoxiong to study at Wenzao next semester.

The short version

For various reasons, I’ve decided that I don’t have either the time or the money to stay in Taiwan for a bachelor’s degree. As a result of this, after weighing the different alternatives carefully, I think that going back to Wenzao is a better alternative than staying in Linkou for what might be my last semester in Taiwan. Linkou has many things I like: my classmates, whom I will miss sorely; good teachers and high-standard education. However, staying in Linkou also comes with some problems, such as the remoteness and isolation of the place itself, the generally depressing state of the campus and the fact that studying for a bachelor’s degree in a Taiwanese university suit neither my personality nor my learning style.

On the other hand, going back to Gaoxiong and Wenzao offers some serious benefits, apart from escaping the problems mentioned above. It would allow me a freer learning environment where I can control what I do to a much higher extent. The class I will be attending will have very few students (three, at the moment), which means more direct interaction with the teacher. I think the level of the courses might be equal at both institutions. Moving to Gaoxiong will also mean that I’ll live with Taiwanese friends, which is a bit of a wild card, but which I hope will turn out to be very good. On the negative side, it’s more expensive than staying in Taipei and it also mean additional trouble to move yet again. These, however, are practical matters that I can handle.

Comparing these two alternatives and trying to find as much pertinent information as possible, I’ve come the conclusion that moving to Gaoxiong is better than staying in Linkou. I’m terribly sad to leave my class mates (you’re all awesome, and some of you write really beautiful characters, too), but I know you will continue to be awesome without me.

The not so short version

This decision is in reality two, one about the role of Chinese in my future career and one about how to best learn the language here in Taiwan. The first question is by far the most important one, and the second can in a sense be said to be a result of the first. Career choices are long-term and stretch far into an unforeseeable future, but before I take you there, let me start by talking a little bit about the past.

The iceberg

Since I was about eighteen or so, I’ve known that teaching is a career that would suit my personality and ability fairly well. I first started studying psychology at university, but then changed programmes and began studying to become a language teacher instead. Down this road I’ve walked ever since, because not even a three-year foray into the realm of Chinese should be regarded as a different path altogether, just a more indirect way of reaching the same goal. But is it really that easy? What if this road turned out to be so interesting and important that it became a goal in itself? What if “Chinese” turned out to be more important than “teach” in the phrase “I want to teach Chinese”?

That’s the question I’ve been pondering for a couple of weeks now. What do I really want? Has this Chinese detour become the real road? Am I prepared to stay here for three and a half years and earn my degree, and only then contemplate returning to Sweden to try to make a living on my then hopefully adequate language skills? In short, have I, perhaps unconsciously, changed course in my life, away from teaching and towards pure language?

The answer to that question is “no”. It’s not an obvious or self-evident “no” by any means; behind that single word lies a long and sometimes angst-ridden thought process. However, the answer is a certain as it’s ever likely to become (it might grow less certain in the future, but let’s worry about the present for now). I want to be a teacher and to be that in Sweden, I need to graduate from the teachers’ programme.

In practical terms, this means that I will go home to Sweden this summer, and I will stay there for the foreseeable future. After graduating, if I feel that Taiwan is pulling me back, well, then I might have to change course again (for instance, I might consider studying for a master’s degree here), but that’s not the issue right now. If I’m truly so interested in Chinese that I’m willing to base my career on it, I’m sure I’ll know that after having been back to Sweden for a couple of years. I’m still young, the sky is the limit, as they say. In any case, I’m not prepared to sacrifice the relative certainty that being a teacher offers, for something which might well be more interesting, but also a lot less secure.

What I’ve just described is the true conundrum here, the question I couldn’t get my head around until very recently. The reason for this was that the larger question was mostly under the surface, and the tip of the iceberg was actually something altogether different: The question whether I wanted to move back south to Gaoxiong or stay in Linkou. This smaller question hid something much bigger that needed to be taken care of first. Since I’ve done that now, let’s look at the tip of the iceberg, which simply is an extension of the above argument.

The tip of the iceberg

Since the link between these two questions wasn’t obvious for me, I think I’d better explain it to make clear what took some serious thinking for me to figure out for myself.

If I stay in Linkou, it means (disregarding everything but the big picture) that I have the possibility to continue studying in Taiwan and earn my university degree here. However, staying in Linkou doesn’t necessarily entail that I will stay in Taiwan longer than one year, but it does include the option of doing so if I want to. By contrast, moving back to Gaoxiong and studying at Wenzao for another semester, precludes the option of graduating from a Taiwanese university. I cannot stay in this country forever, hopping between different cities and language centres. If I stay here for an extended period of time, I need some real proof of all the effort I’ve invested in learning Chinese. A degree is the only unambiguous and useful proof of that.

So, having decided that I’m not staying in Taiwan longer than this semester, the second choice (the tip of the iceberg) becomes easier to understand: either I spend another semester in Linkou, or I study at Wenzao next semester and then go back home. Even though it’s smaller, this choice was a lot harder to make, and I would be lying if I said that I’m one hundred percent sure I’m doing the right thing. Rationally speaking, I know moving is a good idea, but since I’m human and not a machine, it’s a lot more complicated than that. Let’s examine the two options and what they have to offer.

About staying in Linkou

The most important reason to stay in Linkou is, without any doubt whatsoever, my classmates and other friends here. I know that whatever happens next semester, I’d have a great time while in class, and I will learn a lot at the same time. In addition to this, the education offered in Linkou is fairly predictable (even though we will change teachers, I still no roughly what to expect). I know that the education is of high quality. Furthermore, staying in the north is a lot cheaper, recognising the fact that I have a scholarship there and the tuition fee is lower.

There are some arguments for not staying in Linkou as well. Generally speaking, I’m not too happy with studying for a bachelor’s degree at a Taiwanese university, because it feels very much like being back in junior high (attitude, courses, environment, teaching style; here is one example). I realise that this is what it’s like here, but I’m afraid that doesn’t make it any better. Furthermore, I think the campus itself is depressing in many ways (dirty, dilapidated, distant) and Linkou itself feels a bit like the end of the world (and we live at the very end of Linkou!). Last, but not least, the schedule is quite tightly packed, meaning lots of class time and much homework. I feel like I haven’t got time to study Chinese, which sounds self-contradictory, but is nonetheless true. I learn better if I have more control over what I’m studying, but as it is now, there is hardly any time for that. Also note that going anywhere else than Linkou takes at least an hour, which naturally makes it even more difficult to expand my horizons, either geographically or socially speaking.

About going back to Wenzao

There are some arguments in favour of moving back south. Firstly, it would mean returning to an institution I have very fond memories of; I didn’t leave Gaoxiong last time because I was unhappy with my life there. I know the college can provide me with courses more suitable to my personality and learning style. Secondly, if I move back south, it would mean living with two Taiwanese students (one of my friends from last year and her current room mate). It’s of course difficult to say how important this is and what kind of impact it will have on my studies and my life, but I would be surprised if it didn’t trump living alone in Linkou.

Added to that, I’m a social person, I need people around be to be happy. The only reason I live alone now is that I don’t want to live in the dormitory, (see the comments about the campus above). Living with my friends in Gaoxiong might make me happier at the same time as enabling me to understand Taiwan and the Chinese language on a deeper level. Furthermore, I do of course already have other friends in the south, and they do also play a big part in all this. I would not move into social terra incognita, like I’ve done my previous three moves in Taiwan.

I’m aware that my girlfriend hasn’t been mentioned here, and that’s no accident. Our relationship hasn’t been working very well since I came back to Taiwan last year, and it didn’t work at all towards the end of last year. Moving might or might not improve this, but I want to make it very clear that she is not the reason why I’m moving.

Naturally, there are also drawbacks with moving again, otherwise I wouldn’t need to write such a long post about what I’m going to do. Please read the first part of that sentence again, the keywords are “moving again”. I have moved six times in two years, do I really want to make it seven times in two and a half? Sure, in the ancient past, I said that I wanted to be more like a snail with its house on its back, but I feel more like I have no home at all rather than always carrying it with me. Leaving Linkou would mean more uncertainty, even though it would be significantly less unknown than any of my previous moves in Taiwan. I know roughly what I will get if I move.

Another negative factor is money: going back south costs more money than staying in Linkou; my rough calculations tell me about NT$40.000, which is a bit less than 10,000 Swedish crowns. That’s not an astronomical sum, especially not when compared with living in Sweden, but it is still a factor. On the other hand, my decision to stay in Taiwan one semester and not more, means that I’m prepared to spend some extra money to optimise the time I have left here. In addition, I won’t go home this winter vacation, and will thus save approximately NT$30.000. I’m not a rich man, but I think I know when to spend money and when to be thrifty.

Final decision

Rationally speaking, I think there are some factors above that cancel each other out, and the social aspect might be one of them. I’m sure I’d be very happy staying in Linkou with my current classmates and friends (I feel a sting of sadness just by thinking about leaving you!), but on the other hand, I know that I can be happy in Gaoxiong as well. It doesn’t feel like that now, because Linkou is where I live now and thus very close, but I really think that both choices should be equally good, socially speaking.

So, what it eventually boils down to is paying more money to get a better learning environment. I’m convinced that I would learn more Chinese and be more satisfied with my studying if I went back to Gaoxiong; this is beyond any doubt. On the other hand, as explained above, it would also be more expensive. Is it worth paying that sum of money to get these extra benefits? Yes, of course it is.

Oh, if only humans were fully rational! Then I wouldn’t have had to spend weeks making up my mind. Alas, I cannot base something like this simply on cold logic, so I thought that if I went to Wenzao to talk to them about this, perhaps I would be able to feel what would be the right thing to do. More importantly, I needed to go to my friend’s place to see if the apartment looked okay, that it was a place I felt comfortable living and that the location wasn’t too off (hard to beat Linkou in that regard, though). I hoped that after doing these things, I would feel what was the right thing to do.

And I do. I feel that moving south again is the right choice. There are too many advantages with moving back. Perhaps moving in with Taiwanese friends is reason enough, because it would be something new, something I haven’t done before, but apart from this, I think the overall study situation will improve. I also know that there are many things in the north I fundamentally dislike, although I’ve grown used to them and come to accept them; moving would alleviate these problems, if not remove them entirely, and allow me to focus on what I like most here, studying Chinese.

I’m truly, honestly sad about leaving my classmates and my other friends in Linkou, but that’s a sacrifice I have to live with. They will no doubt move on without me and even though I think my cube puzzles will be missed in A班, I think my leaving won’t really hurt the wonderful atmosphere in that group. I’m very fond of you all and I hope I’m welcome to visit you whenever there is time.

Personally, I’m on the road yet again, and I need to find again that warm feeling I’ve had recently in class, I need to settle down in a new environment and I need to move on. I hope that those involved can understand my decision and I hope I can keep in touch with those who matter most to me in the north. Thanks for everything and see you soon?

該是時候往前走

最近,我作出兩個特別重要的決定,現在想要與大家分享這決定與緣由。等到今天才宣佈的原因是我之前不太清楚自己到底想要做什麼,也為了讓想知道原因的人有機會理解我的想法,再者我也需要時間好好地考慮。這兩個決定格外困難,但我希望大家會了解我的想法。

原本我用英文寫這一篇文章,所以如果你對英文比較熟,也可以按這個連結來看原文。內容不是一模一樣,但是大概意思是相同的,可是英文版比較詳細,並且有圖片及連結。

非常短的版本

這是以上提出的兩個決定:第一、我不會因想得到臺灣的大學的學位而留在這裡四年,反正下個學期之候,就回去瑞典完成我那邊的課程。第二、因為我留在臺灣只剩一個學期,我認為在師範大學繼續念書不如回去高雄讀文藻外語學院,所以我下個學期要再搬家。

很短的版本

因為缺乏時間及金錢,因此我覺得我無法完成臺灣大學的學業。因此經過深思熟慮之後,我決定回去高雄,用我可能是最後一個在臺灣的學期在文藻繼續念中文。在林口有許多開心及不捨的回憶:同學(你們真的太好了),其它臺灣朋友(讓我喜歡臺灣及臺灣人)和老師(能夠耐心得使我瞭解語言與文化)。不過,留在林口也有一些不太喜歡的事情,例如:學校地點偏僻,讓我感到憂鬱的校院(雖然表面上很漂亮,但仍有很多不好的部分)。最重要的原因是我發現我的個性與學語言的方式不適合在臺灣念大學課程,有那種回到國中的感覺。

另一方面,除了逃避以上的留在林口的壞處之外,回去高雄在文藻念書有許多的好處。在國語中心學中文比較自由,讓我自己會掌握學習的過程。由於學生比較少(我要參加的班現在只有三個學生),因此老師能夠專心地幫助學生解決他們的問題。文藻與師大的課程程度差不多,但是文藻的好像比較實用的。搬家到高雄之候,我要跟兩個臺灣人一起住,雖然現在不得而知會如何,但我覺得比在這裡一個人住好多了。當然去高雄也有壞處,像再搬一次家很麻煩,而且花費比留在林口多(在文藻沒有獎學金,並且學費貴得多)。

基於上述的種種原因並經過考量之後,我才做出要搬回高雄的決定,這當中我也猶豫了很久也為此輾轉難眠好幾夜。由於我下個學期不會跟現在的同學一起上課,因此我感到格外難過(你們都很棒,其中還有同學能寫出非常漂亮的漢字),雖然我要離開但我相信你們依然能夠繼續保持下去。

不太短的版本

乍看之下,似乎僅需作一個選擇(下個學期要做什麼),後面其實有另外一個更困擾的難題:我將來生涯的重點到底是什麼?是否要搬家到高雄是個既重大又迫切的決定,但是生涯的規劃是個更長遠的決定。為了讓你們瞭解我未來要做什麼,我需先用過去的日子來闡釋現在的情況。

冰山

從十八歲左右開始,我知道當老師可能比較適合我的個性和能力。雖然我先念了一年的心理學,但是一年之後,我還是對教育學比較有興趣,因此我轉系了。從那時起我依著當老師的計劃走,來臺灣讀書並不是個意外。雖然這不是我原來想到的做法,但卻是殊途同歸。不過真的是那麼簡單嗎?假設我在臺灣發現了這過程因為非常有趣而成為重點,假設「我想要教中文」的「中文」比其中的「教」還重要,那怎麼辦?

最近我花許多時間考慮這個問題,也跟別人討論。我到底想要做什麼呢?念中文的路途轉道是否成為幹線?為了得到臺灣大學的文憑,而留在臺灣多三年半值得嗎?總而言之,我有沒有將原來當老師的目標變成用中文來謀生?

答案是「不是」、「沒有」不過這個答案一點也不明顯;那兩個字的後面隱藏了許久的猶豫不決。雖然答案是很難得到的,不過還是很必然的(回去瑞典的時候,有可能這一方面會該變)。我想要在瑞典當老師,所以我需要回去完成那邊的大學課程(在這裡得到文憑不夠),才會再考慮中文與臺灣這一部分。

實際上,我因為這個夏天要回去瑞典而且會一直待到畢業為止。畢業之後,若是感到臺灣的吸引力很強,那我才考慮要不要為了得到碩士而回來這裡。回瑞典之後,我會更加確定是否真的對中文有興趣。我仍然年輕,畢業之後會有機會改變想法。無論如何,我不打算為得到臺灣的文憑而犧牲在瑞典的學業。

冰山一角

原則上,決定要回去瑞典對下個學期要做什麼的想法很重要。意思是,我一點都不重視文憑,因此我會專心學得中文。一個住在高雄的朋友尋找室友使我開使考慮到回去那邊否則對我的學習的情況有幫助。雖然這因素比以上的小得多,不過還是很困難決定。

留在林口

在國華系的同學及其它住在台北的朋友絕對是讓我想留在林口最大的因素。假設下學期繼續在師大念書,那我就知道這一方面會是很棒的;我非常喜歡你們,再者可以跟你們一起學到更多中文。另外,我想秋天的教育品質應該算是不錯的,所以有可能下學期會一樣好(但是不一定,因為要換老師)。最後留在林口的好處就是因為有學校的獎學金,而不用花那麼多錢。

留在林口當然也有些壞處(否則我不需要考慮是否回高雄的這個難題)。一般來說,我發現我不太喜歡在臺灣的學校念這樣的課程,因為感覺是我回去了瑞典的國中(環境,態度,課程,教法都令我想到好幾年之前念的國中)。我當然明白臺灣與瑞典的制度不一樣,但是我好像無法習慣這樣的教學方式。另外,林口的校園是一個令人憂鬱的地方(偏僻、肮脏、破爛的)。如果校園位於林口醫院那邊附近,那就可能沒有任何問題, 但是校園却是在林口最沒有人煙、最不便利的地方。最後,我有一種沒有時間真的學中文的感覺,因為有那麼多課程、作業,而且如果想要去別的地方,也需要花很多時間在坐公車(結果學習時間更少)。如果我只能再留在臺灣一個學期,我不要只加強閱讀與聽力,我想要有時間自己選擇要加強學習的方向。

回去高雄

回去南部也有一些好處。第一、我已經對文藻熟悉,知道那裡的課程適合我。去年選擇離開高雄並不是因為我不喜歡讀於文藻,是為了申請大學而北上。第二、若是回去高雄,我也會跟兩名臺灣人一起住(一個我去年認識的朋友跟她的室友);我無法確定跟她們一起住會怎樣,不過絕對是比現在一個人住好多了。其實,我現在會一個人住是因為我不喜歡住在宿舍裡,而且很討厭坐公車(排除住在台北)。第三、我也有些我很想念住在高雄的朋友,所以雖然離開這裡的人令我難過,但我也會找回之前失去的好朋友。

看到這裡,應該有人想問我想要搬家跟女朋友有沒有關係(她住高雄)?我故意在前面沒有提出這個問題,因為這原因不重要。我去年回來臺灣之後,我們的關係好像沒有之前的那麼好;並且最近越來越不好。我不知道搬家對我們倆人會有什麼樣子的影響,但是我確定知道這不是我想要回高雄的理由。

回去有什麼壞處呢?最重要的是,我之前搬家太多次了,那為什麼要再一次離開我習慣的地方?這樣飛來飛去使我很累,好像從來沒有真的「這是我家」的感覺。不過,這一次不是去新的城市,所以希望沒有那麼辛苦。另外,回去高雄比較貴,我估計需要多花四萬元(包括那邊沒有獎學金)。若是這是我在臺灣最後一個學期,我應該選擇對我最好的方法,既使貴一點。

最後決定

在冷靜的思考後有些正負因素會相抵,尤其是社交這一方面。假設留在林口的話,我知道朋友與同學會讓我很開心(這是讓我留在林口最重要一點喔!),不過雖然現在沒有這種感覺,我也知道搬家之後會再找回之前的朋友,並且會遇到新的。由此可見兩個選擇的結果大概是差不多的。所以,為了得到好一點的學習環境而付多一點的錢值得嗎?答案很清楚:當然是值得!

可惜人類不是十分理性的!那麼,我不需要經過幾個禮拜的考慮才決定。這樣大的選擇,我不能只用冷冷的邏輯來決定,因而,我想到了,如果去文藻跟他們討論,然後去看看我的朋友,看看房子情況如何,那可能會感到我想要做什麼。去高雄之前,我希望心裡的感覺是跟頭腦想的是相同的。去高雄之後,就是這樣,我很清楚地知道搬家是最好的選擇。

我的中文能力不夠好,所以我無法表示離開在林口及台北的朋友讓我有多難過,可是仍然有兩個補救的辦法:一、其實,臺灣很小,高雄離台北不會很遠;二、我知道雖然可能有人上課時會想念我的魔術方塊這類的玩具,但是我絕對知道我離開的事不會壞了上課的那種好氣氛。其它的朋友:我一定會回來台北看你們,而且如果有機會,歡迎你們來高雄看我吧!我希望大家能瞭解我的想法及決定,但是如果有問題或意見,請留言。謝謝你們的耐心看完我冗長的文章!

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  1. April Li’s avatar

    ????!
    ?????????????
    and maybe someday we can visit Sweden, visit you!

    Reply

    1. Olle Linge’s avatar

      ????????And of course, you’re always welcome. :)

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    2. Xhakhal’s avatar

      I’m really happy you made up your mind. I would be happy for you whatever you had decided, of course, but I’m also happy about this particular decision since I have a strong feeling (for a variety of reasons, but I’ll only describe one of them here) that it is the right one.
      I got the feeling, but I may of course be wrong (one can only notice so much from a world away) that you were much more happy with your studying in Gaoxiong than you have been in Linkou, and that it had a larger impact maybe than even you understand on how happy you were on average – or maybe the words I should choose are “how happy you seemed to me on average”. De snail hors needs good school :H

      I also notice many of the little steam boats in the Chinese text I am unable to read. This is good! I approve of little steam boats.

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      1. Olle Linge’s avatar

        Yeah, I think you’re right. Perhaps the best things in Linkou are as good as it gets, but the average happiness level will probably me a lot higher in the future (or at least I hope so). Since I’m here to study, it’s perhaps unavoidable that it influences my life a great deal (true in Sweden as well, but to a lesser extent, because I have so many other things going there). Thanks for your encouragement, not only now, but in general; it’s worth a lot! Here, have some steam boats: ?????

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      2. chanel’s avatar

        Olle ??!????????????????????????
        ??????????????????????????????:????????????????? ????????????? 2/13-21?????day off???? ????????

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        1. Tiffany’s avatar

          ?!??????????????:)

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          1. Olle Linge’s avatar

            ???????????????????????????????????????????

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          2. ??’s avatar

            ??????????:)??!

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            1. Olle Linge’s avatar

              ???????????????????????

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            2. Tiffany’s avatar

              ?????? ????????? ?????!

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