Last updated on September 25th, 2020
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My name is Adam Smith, and I am an accountant who grew up being groomed for business. My paradigms on life got flipped upside down in 2013 when I stepped foot overseas in Taiwan for the first time. I then lived in Taiwan as an exchange student and English teacher and have gone on to travel to many other countries (but not nearly enough!).
I met my wife, Mora, in Taipei, Taiwan back in 2014. Since that time, we have gone on so many exciting adventures together. We have our ups-and-downs like any couple, but I don’t know what I would do without her by my side.
Saying I fell in love with travel would be the understatement of the century. In my experience, traveling is living. My goal is to help pass on the knowledge I have gained over the years; I believe it is paramount to show the proper respect each culture deserves. Thank you for taking time out of your day to be here; this is my story.
Adam’s Apple: The World Origins
Back in 2012 while studying at MTSU (a university in Tennessee), I came to a realization: I was depressed and did not know why. I had friends and was rooming with one of my best friends to this day, Dylan. I had great grades. I had a really nice apartment. I never had trouble finding a girlfriend. So what was missing in my life? Why was I so completely miserable?
I told no one about this for awhile, until eventually the one person I did tell was Dylan. We had countless discussions about life that went well into the middle of the night, and he just tried to help me navigate these uncharted waters instead of allowing me to try to go through my struggles alone.
The topic of traveling came up one day, and he mentioned how freeing it is and told me about some of his adventures abroad; this certainly piqued my curiosity & interest until I finally made the decision to study abroad the following year, 2013. Based on my ancestry, my first choices were Italy and Ireland, both of which were quickly derailed due to sky-high prices.
Feeling a little demoralized, I kept searching and came across an exceptionally low-priced country named Taiwan. After spending weeks researching this place, some key advice Dylan gave me was to simply have an open mind; leave your pre-conceived notions at home, embrace the differences, and immerse yourself in the local culture. Those are words I live by to this day.
During my meeting with Dr. Jih, the Taiwanese professor at MTSU leading the program, it was hard not to fall in love with Taiwan based on the passion he showed; I could see the pride in his eyes and could not help but smile. We discussed many of Taiwan’s greatest aspects and looked through several photos; there was one common denominator about the people in them: they all looked so incredibly happy, which is something I so desperately needed at this point in my life.
Following the meeting, I could not have been more excited..or happy.
My New Beginning
On the day of my trip, I quickly realized that nothing can prepare you for a 24+ hour flying adventure across the world. Exhausted, the study abroad group was greeted at the airport by several Taiwanese students & professors, who accompanied us back to the dorm near CYCU (a local university in Zhongli, Taiwan).
After seeing a complete stranger sprint to save my baseball cap from flying into the great beyond, I still remember looking out the window of the bus in awe and seeing what appeared to be a whole new world
I can’t explain why, but for the first time in a long time, I thought to myself, “I feel so happy.”
Over the course of the next few weeks, I experienced the awesomeness that is Asian convenience stores, went through my first typhoon, enjoyed delicious Taiwanese cuisine, went on exciting adventures, and best of all, made countless, lifelong friends from all over the world. You can read more about my study abroad experience here!
After the trip that changed my life ended, I was 100% determined to do whatever it took to go back to Taiwan for an extended period of time; one thing about me is when I’m determined, no obstacle will stand in my way. For the next several months, I was a constant presence in the Global Studies office in order to ensure I could go on a full-year exchange student program. When I received news of acceptance, words cannot describe how happy I was.
In Taiwan, I was fortunate to have so many wonderful professors who also gave great advice on life. So much of what was taught has stuck with me through the years. “Are we really living our lives, or are we just accepting it.” I have to remind myself of this from time-to-time to prevent myself from going through the motions. Never forget to “seize the day.” Today could be your breakthrough and time to shine.
I had so many memorable moments during my full-year exchange student program, which I recounted in Part 1 & Part 2 of my blog; for more information about my stay, please click on the links above. 🙂
Love at First Sight?
So, you may be wondering how Mora came into the picture. We became acquainted back in July 2014, and I was instantly interested; however, I quickly learned that was just a one-way street as she never gave me the time of day, regardless of what I invited her to (ouch lol).
However, in September, something suddenly changed in Mora’s demeanor towards me. Instead of short, lukewarm responses, there were both random and deep phone conversations that lasted for 3+ hours, and it led to a date in Taipei that could not have gone better. The chemistry between was apparent. My roommate joked, “I guess persistence does pay off!”
After our second date, a wild night on the club scene with her friends, I asked her to be my girlfriend, and we have been together ever since. That’s not to say we haven’t had our fair share of issues over the years, like every couple is bound to have, but I could not imagine sharing this adventure of life with anyone else.
Back to the US
After my return to the U.S., I had to make an important decision: should I get my master’s degree in Tennessee, or should I follow my heart back to Taiwan? I wanted to be closer to Mora, of course, and I already missed Taiwan tremendously. So yeah, the decision was easy.
I scored a scholarship for CYCU to study for my International Master’s of Business Administration, and not only that, I was offered a job teaching English as a foreign language to Taiwanese at a local cram school. Everything was falling into place.
Or so I thought.
Home Sweet Taiwan
After arriving in Taiwan, I discovered my university had unexpectedly terminated its scholarship program for international students, leaving me unable to cover my tuition. Still, I was determined to make the most out of a failed plan, so I withdrew from the program and tried my hand at teaching English. I loved the new challenges it brought me because this was far out of my comfort zone, but I adapted & even enjoyed it immensely. Despite the inauspicious start, Taiwan began to feel like home once again.
If you’ve learned anything about my life by this point, though, it’s that as soon as I finally start feeling fully content, something pulls me in another direction.
MTSU gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse: acceptance into their Master’s of Accountancy program, a graduate assistantship, free tuition, a 50% off Becker CPA Review program, and even paychecks. It seemed like a no-brainer to me financially; I was really sad to not live in Taiwan longer, but I knew I would be back.
Despite the difficult challenges that come with a long-distance relationship, Mora & I made the necessary sacrifices & effort to make it work. When Mora came to visit me in March 2016, I popped the question; happily, she said yes!
I went back to Taiwan in July of that same year to marry her, and we celebrated it immediately with a trip to Japan followed by a honeymoon in Mexico at Excellence Playa Mujeres, arguably the best all-inclusive resort in the world.
What We Are Up to Now
The past few years have seen one or both of us make trips back to Taiwan and have exciting adventures in countries such as Mexico, Italy, Japan, and South Korea. Working on my skills as an “Instagram husband” has been very helpful to my photography skills.
I personally have struggled mightily with something called reverse culture shock; it has been difficult to adjust back to living in America. It’s not that America doesn’t have a lot to offer; I just find it is easy to get back into the bad, old habits of putting too much emphasis on material items, television, and a lack of physical activity in everyday life that naturally comes from living in convenient locations, such as Taiwan.
Since starting my accounting career full-time in November 2016, I have had to plan out trips ahead of time in greater detail. I do miss having the freedom to travel whenever and wherever my heart desires, but we travel when able and make the most of it.
I do have dreams of traveling full-time in the future, which is one of the many reasons I started this travel website. I see so many people make the same mistakes time & time again when traveling; they make such detailed itineraries that allow no time for spontaneous exploring, and they don’t show the local culture the proper appreciation it truly deserves. I have made all of these mistakes before, so you don’t have to! When you make an effort to fully immerse yourself in the place you are visiting (or living), it will be a truly memorable experience, and you will have much less of the frustration, exhaustion, and bad mood that comes with an itinerary gone wrong.
With your help & support, we can make this dream come true. All I ask is that you sit back, relax, maybe crack open a cold one & have yourself some delicious food, and just follow along. We love meeting new people, so if you ever see us out & about, please don’t hesitate to come talk to us once the Covid-19 pandemic has come to an end.
If you would like to read more about my story, please take a look here!
Until next time, stay safe & travel responsibly; just don’t eat the apple.
Adam & Mora