For over a year blogging has been part of my daily life. Before going to Taiwan I had never thought about blogging. When I was still in Berlin and planning my first trip to Taipei, a Chinese friend of mine told me that I should start a blog so I could keep my friends in Germany and Italy updated about my new adventure. But I had no idea how to write a blog, and at that time I had no interest in it, either.
Perhaps I should have started to write a blog in those days of euphoria, when Taiwan was an entirely new and exotic place to me, when I had so many emotions and felt so much enthusiasm. I used to update my private Facebook page, instead. I had never used Facebook so much before, and I turned my life in Taiwan into a sort of show. In hindsight, I think that show was a technique of self-persuasion.
While at the beginning I felt as if Taiwan would be my new home and I was passionate about it, after a few months I became much more sober and disenchanted. I began to see many aspects of Taiwanese life and society that I had not been aware of. It was only then that I discovered blogging as a way to cope with that new situation. I guess this also explains the rather sombre atmosphere of this blog when compared with other travel and expat blogs.
I used blogging both as a public diary and as a place for reflection. I wanted to make sense of the new place where I lived, which was so different from what I had imagined, and so fascinating, because I felt there was so much to learn. Many of my blog posts are bits of my learning process. At the same time, blogging became important to me in moments when it was hard to find someone to talk to.
I remember a scene from “Lost in Translation”, when the female protagonist calls a friend of hers. She feels lonely and wants to talk to someone; but her friend is in a hurry, and she does not understand her. These are situations that happen in everyone’s life. There are feelings that one cannot put into words, or that other people cannot truly understand. One must cope with them alone, unless one finds a special person, a kindred person willing to listen. But that doesn’t always happen.
The past two months have been for me one of those moments. After my father got sick in February, things have been complicated. I had to leave Taiwan all of a sudden, with a return ticket in my hands which I never used.
I realised that I had to deal with the situation without any help. I couldn’t express my anxiety, I couldn’t talk about my suffering with anyone. I isolated myself, didn’t write to or call my friends. One thing alone was on my mind, and when you feel like this, talking with a friend isn’t easy. Most people’s lives go on, but mine came to a halt for a while.
As a matter of course, I spent most of my time in the hospital where my father was treated. I went there twice a day.
Despite the stress and worry, I tried to keep on blogging. It was a way to stop thinking about bad things, and focus my attention on something else. In this respect, it was very helpful.
At the end of March Taiwanese students organised the biggest protest the island has seen in many years. This event made me feel that Taiwan was very far away. I wish I had been there to witness this historic event, and to get a first-hand experience of the atmosphere.
In the first two days the general euphoria affected me, but then I became more sceptical. At that point, blogging turned into a burden. I received a lot of criticism because of my rather unconventional point of view. Actually, I don’t enjoy these heated debates where a different point of view infuriates people. Especially when one is not having a good time for private reasons, such diatribes only add to one’s own distress. But whenever one expresses one’s opinion, one has to expect criticism. For the sake of peace with others, one could avoid overexposing oneself, so as to be considered nice by everyone.
But that’s exactly what makes blogging so interesting. Blogging is absolutely free. You decide what to say and what to write about, without any external influence. As a form of communication and self-expression in a time of fast change, displacement and frenzy, blogging is a parallel world, a space you can form and adapt to your needs, where you can talk to yourself and to others without constraint.
Actually, there is one constraint. Because I decided that this blog would be mainly about East Asia, I couldn’t write about Rome. During my long walks in the city, I see a lot of things that interest me. I took a lot of pictures of buildings and streets, of old Roman ruins and unknown places. I would have liked to write about these things and share pictures, something which is definitely more relaxing than politics.