Rosetta Stone: Helping Me Feel at Home in Taiwan

One of the great advantages of my family’s relocation to Taiwan is that we now have relatively easy access to some fantastic Asian vacation destinations. In the course of nine months, we’ve taken three wonderful trips—to Bali, Japan, and Thailand—made possible not only by location, but also by the wonder that’s an academic working calendar. Any of these trips would probably be a once-in-a-lifetime experience if we were still living in the northeastern United States. But in our situation, we’re already able to think about return trips and all the other awesome places we’ll go: China, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, and about fifty other places in the region. There’s a downside, though, because as much as we love to travel, there’s no place like home. Especially when you’re traveling with a two-year-old.

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Glowimages, courtesy of Getty Images

The satisfaction and comfort of coming home can sometimes become lost upon reentry: communicating with a cab driver who can’t find your apartment, deciding what to pick up for an easy dinner after a long trip, or asking for help fixing your motor scooter which didn’t start easily after sitting for so long. Despite these issues, the confidence and basic skills I’ve learned through my early lessons with Rosetta Stone have made a huge difference in how I feel when I return to my new home in Taipei. After one vacation early on, our return almost felt like starting over. We were hit with much of the anxiety and culture shock that can come with having trouble communicating and getting through everyday routines. In the taxi from the airport, for example, we still had to use a preprinted card with Mandarin directions to our apartment. However, when we recently came back from our spring break in Thailand, we were able to use basic greetings with the customs and passport people, direct the taxi driver, and chat with the doorman at our apartment. Doing so gave us a tiny sense of control and belonging that made a tremendous difference.

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Michael Russell

Michael Russell moved to Taiwan several months ago with his wife and son. He came along as the self-described “trailing talent” after his wife found a great job there—and that meant looking for work. It quickly became obvious that speaking at least a little Mandarin would make a huge difference in Michael’s prospects, whether he wanted to continue his career as a lawyer, or if he were going to try a new path. However, the scheduling demands of settling into a new community and culture, job networking, and some part-time work—plus the cost of formal language lessons—got in the way, and he hasn’t made significant language-learning progress thus far. His son is now his best source for Mandarin vocabulary, thanks to everything he’s picked up in his preschool class. Beyond the professional aspect, Michael is excited about learning Mandarin just for fun, and for the sake of getting around easily, eating well, and getting to know people. He has a broad, but not necessarily deep, experience with languages. Michael lived in Italy for several years as a child and has since studied and used it occasionally. He also studied French and Spanish for several years, but he’s not more than passable at them. Turkish, Japanese, and Mandarin are languages Michael has dabbled in, but he hasn’t had the chance or motivation to really focus on them, until now. Michael looks forward to his experience with Rosetta Stone Version 4 TOTALe Chinese.
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