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Joyce Chen

Joyce Chen

Hey there! My name is Joyce, and I’m a Taiwanese American student studying Foreign Languages and Literatures at National Taiwan University. In Taiwan, I work as an English tutor to 2 adorable preschoolers. When I’m not studying or working, I love to travel throughout Asia! Throughout the incredible journey life has taken me on, I never fail to take a step back and thank God for the opportunities I have been given and to reflect on my faith. I hope you enjoy this little piece of my life, and thanks for visiting!


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Passing the Holiday Season Abroad



Ah! It’s finally December, and socially acceptable to get ready for Christmas. Of course, the holiday season includes Thanksgiving too, which to me is like a “practice” Christmas. The holidays have always been something really special to me. Even though my family never did anything crazy big to celebrate, I loved the idea of traditions and everyone coming together to just give thanks for everything we’ve been so blessed with.

After coming to Taiwan, I didn’t get the chance to celebrate Thanksgiving (since... it’s an American holiday), and I realized that Christmas here isn’t really celebrated with the same magnitude and reverence as in the US. Decorative lights will line the streets, but come Christmas Day, we still go to school and work like normal. It was really heartbreaking to miss out on two of the most major holidays, so this year, I’ve decided to introduce my Taiwanese friends to some of the joys of the season.

Friendsgiving


This is not a new concept at all, but definitely a new one to my friends. We had a potluck-style dinner party, and used it as an opportunity to invite some new friends as well. Our dinner turned into one of the most multi-cultural meals I’ve ever had. The guest list consisted of people from three continents, and we had everything from mac and cheese to baguettes, Spanish potato salad to Chinese herbal chicken. (Fun fact: A lot of Taiwanese people didn’t know what mac and cheese was!)

Not only was it a great way for me to show them a little piece of American culture (yes, it exists), they were able to share some of their own similar traditions. At the end of the day, the most important part was just having everyone come together and celebrate our friendship. We put the phones down, and had some good old-fashioned conversation.

Christmas


One thing that I’ve learned about celebrating the holidays overseas is that just because nobody else is celebrating, doesn’t mean that you can’t! Taiwan still celebrates Christmas, just not quite so seriously. I, on the other hand, have taken the liberty of decorating my dorm room, getting a mini Christmas tree, and even an advent calendar to really put myself in the holiday spirit.

Last year, I just had a small Christmas dinner with my friends, and we were able to do a Secret Santa gift exchange. This year, my Christmas plans are bigger and better. We are doing a full-on photo shoot at Christmasland in New Taipei City, and I’ve planned a full-fledged Christmas party along with some of the other dorms on campus. All month, you’ll find me sipping on hot cocoa and listening to some Christmas tunes.

The Takeaway

No matter what holidays you celebrate, don’t be afraid to introduce it to friends in a foreign country! It’s always fun to learn about other culture’s traditions and take part in them. Do whatever you need to make yourself feel more at home in a new environment.

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