One problem that people always encounter traveling to other parts of the world is communication, both with the locals and with people back home. The problem is that most people don’t think about this until they get there.
The main language spoken here is Chinese, but like most other places in Eastern Asia, there is a local dialect. The dialect in Taiwan is called Taiwanese. Fortunately, many people over here can speak at least a little English, and I actually speak Chinese fairly well, so I’m not completely lost.
Finding a way to call back to the US was a problem when I first arrived in Taiwan. Long distance calls are really expensive if you don’t have the right plan, and I also wanted to find a new SIM card to put in my cell phone so I could use it here in Taiwan. Well, I ended up getting a Skype account and signing up for a monthly plan there, because all you really need is an internet connection to video chat or call a phone pretty much anywhere in the world. Plus the quality of the calls are pretty good, and its affordable. (Also, I set it up so that if someone calls my Skype account and I miss the call, it transfers the call straight to my cell phone.)
The alternative to using Skype would be buying a phone card and making calls with a pay phone. However, it’s kind of a hassle, because to call overseas you have to enter a certain series of codes every time, and their pretty hard to remember. I still have the right cards though, just in case something happens and I don’t have access to Skype.
Before my trip over here to Asia, I had recently switched cell phone providers from Alltel to AT&T. Alltel, along with some of the other cell phone companies in the US, doesn’t use SIM cards. AT&T provides a global plan that let me use my cell phone over here in Asia, but it is pretty expensive. But, since AT&T phones had removable SIM cards installed, after I got my phone unlocked I was able to bring it here and get a SIM card with a local phone company and make phone calls at a lower rate. I have a certain number of minutes on my phone, and If I want to add more I just stop by a 7-11 and buy a card.