A Chronicle Of My Experiences Living Abroad

A Chronicle Of My Experiences Living Abroad: November 2013

November 27, 2013

Our 1st Thanksgiving Abroad

Thanksgiving is only an American holiday, and therefore could be easily missed living abroad. Not because we forget, but there's nothing that indicates it even exists anywhere else in the world. Christmas is all around this time of year and Vienna's famous Christmas markets have been up and running since mid November. We were invited to a pot luck a while back, but I stupidly got my dates mixed up (because at the time I thought we would still be in Taiwan) and had to decline. Oh well, next year. Instead, I will roast a chicken- because I don't even want to finagle with baking a turkey in our European sized oven. The chicken paired with a few of our favorite Thanksgiving sides should suffice this year.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

November 25, 2013

Back to reality

We're back in Vienna and it feels surreal. After spending the last three and half weeks in a wonderfully warm location, it was a shock to our systems to step out of the airport into the cold and dreary winter weather. Something that we'd looked forward to for months, went by in a blink of an eye. It was so rejuvenating to spend such precious time with family and friends. I miss them already. But I take solace that we won't be apart for as long as we were before.

To be brutally honest, I wasn't so sure if I wanted to be back in this reality, but there are many things to look forward to in the coming weeks. We will get to experience the Christmas "magic" that is Vienna during this time of year.  Also, catch up with our friends, spend time with our first guests (arriving in a week), and we'll be capping off the year in another tropical destination. 

November 20, 2013


Last year was a huge milestone and with it happening in a middle of a move, I didn't get a chance to reflect what it was like to turn 30. I thought I would've gone through some sort of panic attack about getting "old", but it's just a number. This past year has obviously been a transforming one. To be in a different place for my birthday is something I'm not quite used to. But since my family is with me in Taiwan, it feels like it has in past years. My sister and brother-in-law brought me cards from the US and treated me to dinner, I got a great birthday cake from a dear friend, Hubs has been treating me to a shopping extravaganza since being here(so much so, we had to ship about 18 pounds of old clothes to accommodate all the new stuff in our suitcases to avoid exorbitant baggage fees ), and I'm fortunate enough to be in one of my favorite places in the world. What more could I've asked for?

30 was met with a life-changing experience and 31 will be a continuation of that journey. I feel so blessed.

November 17, 2013

Taiwan Edition: Grateful

If there was one word that would sum up this trip so far is: grateful. Grateful for every bite, every sight, every moment spent with family and friends, every memory that I'm taking in. The time is going by way too fast, which I'm un-grateful for. When we were planning this trip I had originally thought that  two and half weeks would be enough, but Hubs pushed for longer and that's how we ended up with almost four weeks.  In fact, he said that I would've wanted to stay longer. Now that our time here is nearly over, I'm so glad I listened to him. I needed this trip and time with family and hope that it'll recharge me for when we head back to Vienna.   It will be an undetermined chunk of time before seeing them again.

November 11, 2013

Taiwan Edition: Little America

You wouldn't think it, but Taipei has a large expat community. I don't know if it's because of that or that the Taiwanese love being ahead of the curve, but you can find a lot of comforts of home here if you are truly desperate. I have never really taken notice during previous visits, but brands that we're so used to in the States seem to stand out during this trip. These are just a few American businesses that I've captured that can be found throughout the city.

Hubs was drooling over some of the beer selections here!

Yes...Costco is even in Taiwan!

November 7, 2013

Taiwan Edition: Happiness in our tummies

You must be thinking "another food post? really?". I may be biased, but I think Taiwan has the best selection of food in the world. The Taiwanese have really mastered every kind of Asian cuisine that you can ever imagine. And if you get sick of all the Asian food goodness (which is unlikely), there's comforts for foreigners as well. More on that later. Hubs and I are truly savoring every meal, snack, and drink because we know we can't get it as good in Vienna. I think some family members and friends may think we just got out of a jail sentence, since we're eating everything in sight. No worries though, we'll lose all the weight we may gain when we go back to Austria. Although, some family members have said that I've gotten "fat" since the last time they've seen me. Oh well, I just smile and eat on :)

How can you NOT want to eat everything in sight, when it looks this good?

November 5, 2013

First Contact

One year ago today, Hubs and I found out that we had an amazing opportunity to move and live in Vienna, Austria. In the back of our minds, we knew there was a possibility when he went through the application process, but never thought it would come true. When he was done with his interview in early September, he called me and told me it was “the WORST interview I ever had”. He felt like he failed miserably and kicked himself for days. We thought “hey, at least we gave it our best shot” and went about our lives. I had started a new job and things were just peachy. We had nothing to lose.

It was mid-morning in early November and we were both settling into our work day.  All of a sudden, I get an email and phone call simultaneously from Hubs, that he was offered the position in Vienna. I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears. All these emotions were going through me for the rest of day.  How the heck are we going to break the news to our family and friends? How are we going to pack up our whole lives and start over in our early thirties? What the what/how/who/why? Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, OH MY GOSH…

We broke the news to our immediate family members over the phone and on Election Day no less. Talk about overwhelming people! Most took it well and others not so much. With our friends, we got a little more creative. At least those that were in close proximity to us. They had the most memorable reactions that I still remember like it was yesterday. All our other family and friends that we couldn’t get to in a timely manner, we emailed or called. We felt bad that it was a bit impersonal, but it had to be done before the news was blasted on Facebook.

I can’t believe it’s been a year since that crazy and emotional week of making one of the biggest decisions of our lives!

November 3, 2013

Taiwan Edition: Customers are King

Unlike Vienna and US, Taipei has amazing customer service - sometimes to the point of annoyance. Everywhere you go, there's always a salesperson in front of the store unit waving you in. The sales ladies continue to ask how you're doing, if there's another color or size you need, and the "oh, this will look great on you" line. I used to think that the sales people here were like a bunch of mosquitoes that just don't quit pestering you, but I have found a new appreciation for them during this visit. The "malls" here are called department stores and are amazingly impressive. Department stores are divided into units on each floor, each unit a different brand. They are also comprised of several levels (5-8 floors). Once you're in, you're seldomly left alone to shop. Speaking of the shopping here, it's an absolute paradise!  In my opinion, they're better than the ones in America and make the ones in Vienna look 2nd class. The Taiwanese love anything Japanese, so their "malls" are modeled after the ones in Japan. They also love having things open late, for instance, department stores don't close until 10 or 11 o'clock some nights!

It's this crowded on a Sunday night during the semi-annual Anniversary sales.

Some food court offerings 

Dish offerings are modeled into plastic replicas to choose from

Korean BBQ
Shabu Shabu (hot pot)
Rotating Sushi