opinions & musings / studying in taiwan / travellin' feet / Uncategorized

What’s Your 5-Year Plan?

As we’ve established before, I’m a super-OCD planner and prone to obsessively list everything I want to do before I actually go do it. I’m working on it in some aspects, as it’s been scientifically proved (more than once!) to piss off anyone and everyone that I attempt a relationship with romantically–but when it comes to personal goals & life-planning I think that this kind of insane thinking-ahead mentality can’t be that bad.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years? 

As I’ve just turned 22 (yikes!), I’ll be 27, twenty-seven years old (oh my Lord!) in 5 years, and recently I’ve been thinking about what lies in store for the future. I’ve been blessed to been part of a wide range of communities for someone who’s only experienced 22 years of life, but the variety often confuses me in regards to the question: At what point of my life should I be at (xx) age? Of course, there’s really no answer to this, but seeing Facebook posts of my 27-year old friends chug champagne on yachts in Hong Kong; and then turning to see my  27-year old friends from Kansas City posting the news of their (second!) child-it causes anxiety. Where should I be in 5 years, & more importantly, how can I make it happen? 

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The second biggest lesson I’ve learned from planning (#1: Always make a reservation for a weekend meal in Taipei, lest you go hungry & end up gloomily eating 7-11 at home)–is that at least half of the time, things don’t go according to plan. Now, rational reader, this may be no news to you. In fact, it’s not even news to me. And yet I still go on, obsessively listing and planning and freaking out when I don’t hit every goal. 

And speaking of goals, I haven’t yet hit the goal of this post, which I really began just to share where I wanted to be in 5 years, so, uh, I’ll get on that.

(One) 2013-2014: This will be my final year at National Taiwan University, and also my final year of living in Taiwan. (During winter break, I plan to make the Southeast Asia backpacking circuit; I wouldn’t say I’m particularly raging to go, but it’s just something you have to do if you’re in Asia).

I hope that by then, I’ll be satisfied with my experience of living in this charming little country, and ready to move onto other things. I don’t mean to knock those of you who have decided to stay in Taiwan (I’ll write another post on this in the future), but staying in Taiwan is pretty much career suicide unless you’re a free-lancer or um, and…English-teacher. I would take the free-lancer at some point, but career English teacher is not something I’m planning on plonking on my resume, ever.

(Two) 2014-2015: My study abroad year in Europe. (In the summer, I hope to go to French language school! Or a design program for the summer.)

 Many of my friends rolled their eyes when I announced that I was studying abroad (I mean, haven’t you already wasted so much time in university already, Stephanie?)–but thankfully, it’s actually a program requirement for graduation. However, I don’t expect my time abroad to be all fun & games: since I won’t have many credits left at that time due to the insane courseload I’m shouldering now (I’ll have….15 credits for the whole year, maybe?)–I actually plan on doing a serious internship (in what? Oh, that’s definitely another post). Of course, this will mean that I can’t have the wild study-abroad experience everyone dreams of, but that was never really in my dreams anyhow.

(Three) 2015-2016: This is where it gets dicey. Hopefully by now I’ve gotten by degree from National Taiwan University & ready to move on to higher education. I would love to apply for a Fulbright, but only if there’s some kind of topic that I’m fascinated with; and can present a serious research proposal for. And if not? Well…

I’ve always intended to get my Master’s, and I’m eyeing a one-year program in East Asian Studies at Yale University. I know that it’s a high goal, but I’m deeply interested in contemporary Taiwanese fiction & since I have to get a Master’s in something (no MBAs for me!), why not at an Ivy?

(Four, Five) 2016-2017: My best friend and I have long been discussing which cities we’d like to live & work in when we’re young. I’ve personally narrowed down the choices to Shanghai, Melbourne, London. (We ditched Singapore for being too small & boring; Beijing for being too smoggy, and Paris because…French people are rude. Oh right, and we don’t speak French…). Armed with a master’s degree, I’m really hoping that we can both find jobs there & develop our careers side-by-side.

Ultimately, during these years, I want to fall in love (of course)–and I’m looking forward to it (for the obvious reasons) whilst also dreading it as the plan-breaker; something that will cause me to radically shift my plans. I want to fall in love with a person, and fall in love with a city. Even though I don’t think I could ever stop travelling, I’ve come to realize that my goal isn’t to become some kind of international jet-setter. What I’d really like to do is work in an industry I love, where I can travel a lot, save up to open my own venture (my current inspiration? David’s Melbourne, the most beautiful Shanghainese place in Melbourne!) and live in a creative community that I feel secure enough to leave often (on adventures!) & come back to often.

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 2.02.17 AMPerhaps it all sounds over the top complicated; or too vague (yes, yes, I need to figure out what industry I want to try to break into, I know)–but there it is. My five year plan.

Do you make five year plans (please share, if you do! I’m curious!)? Do you think I’m crazy (it’s really okay if you say yes..)? Let’s talk below!

16 thoughts on “What’s Your 5-Year Plan?

  1. Stephanie,
    Great post. I’ve been a silent follower of your blog for some time now (thank you for inspiring me to visit the artist village in Gongguan). Much like yourself, I meticulously planned and executed my life goals one by one… bachelor’s, master’s, management consulting, MBA, investment banking… always working towards a goal that was 3-5 years out. That is, until early 2011.

    Fed up with my Wall Street job for too many reasons, I said “F everything, I’m moving across the world. I’m gonna learn a completely new language and completely new culture.” I’ve since fallen in love with Taiwan, and although I’m comparatively broke, my quality of life has never been higher. Dropping the “plan” for this somewhat spontaneous move has provided me much time to evaluate my true life/career goals, and I am currently crafting my all-new-and-improved five-year plan.

    So I guess, in summary, I agree that your “thinking-ahead mentality can’t be that bad.” Just remember that completely changing your plans on short notice can sometimes unexpectedly lead to an even more fruitful outcome. Your upcoming goals sound very exciting. All the best to you!
    ~Lucas

    • Thank for reading & sharing Lucas! Hope you’re doing well, & isn’t the artist village great!?

      That’s an amazing story, given that you’ve achieved what is pretty much the pinnacle of what my classmates at NTU want to do: cushy Wall Street job, etc etc.

      What’s the new plan? Share when you’ve got it figured out–would love to know!

  2. I wanna quote Haruki Murakami from “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”:

    “I’m the kind of person who has to experience something physically, actually touch something, before I have a clear sense of it. No matter what it is, unless I see it with my own eyes, I’m not convinced.”

    From personal experiences, I’ve had plans change after physically experiencing and doing what I’ve planned out, which has helped me narrow down my choices in life.

    However, I find this quote a good litmus test to measure if you are enjoying the overall, current, quality of direction in life.

    Good luck!

    • Murakami! Always food for thought! I totally agree; I am that kind of person as well: that’s why I abruptly moved from NYC to Kansas City, Kansas City to NYC again, then to Taipei: I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but after doing certain things, I was able to say that I “tried it” and eliminate it from what I wanted to do!

      Thanks for the advice!

  3. I understand your panic, I moved from England to go study at an American Ivy and now I’m getting a Masters degree in the Midwest. I’m already panicking about where I’ll go next. Something about all this moving, makes me simultaneously long to and afraid of settling down. I would offer you advice but you seem brave and equipped, so I’ll just wish you good luck!

    But thank you, for a beautiful blog. (I am planning on visiting a friend in Taipei, and you have been very helpful in our plotting.) Oh, I would love to see a post about Taiwanese Fiction some time? Do you know of anything good in translation?

    • I just finished a Taiwanese Literature / Film class on campus (the first one on my campus!):

      Highly recommend (English translations are available):

      Huang Chunming’s work (i.e. Taste of Apples, The Sandwich Man ) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huang_Chunming)

      Chu T’ien-hsin – The Old Capitol
      Wang Wen-hsing – Family Catastrophe

      A lot of their work deals with a lot of Taiwanese identity and how Taiwan changed a lot during late half of the 20th century as it dealt with a lot of industrialization and economic development.

      If you’re really into illustration, Jimmy Liao is really awesome too. One of his works became a movie, Starry Night: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UnOJZB8YCQ

      • Awesome! Where do you go to school?

        And yes we read both of Huang Chungming’s work you mentioned! I just finished “A Love Letter Never Sent” by Li Ang and it was a fascinating look into an era where Taiwanese writers were still trying to find their own voice & step away from Western literary influence in the 1960s. Sometimes when I look at pictures of Taiwan from the 50s or 60s I get ‘nostalgic’, even though I wasn’t alive then, and I go to Dihua St. once in a while for my dose of retro Taiwan…

      • I am soon to be graduating from UC Berkeley (yay!).

        Speaking of Dihua St, are there any websites that show specifically Dihua Street in the 50s/60s?

        There’s something about Taiwanese art/literature/culture that I really like; I can’t quite pin it down but once my Chinese becomes more fluent, I can’t wait for the day that I can comfortably read Taiwanese literature.

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment! Feel free to ask me any other info you may need to plan your trip, you will love it here!

      Your experience sounds so interesting, I’d love to hear more about it and would LOVE to hear any advice you have; and if you have any opinions about living/working in London in the future! Would love to try living in England at some point.

      Where in the Midwest are you at? After having lived in Kansas City for almost 2 years, I definitely know that living in the Midwest can be difficult; especially if you’ve had experience abroad.

      And YES there are many great modernist Taiwanese fiction: a good place to start is the works of Pai Hsien-Yung (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pai_Hsien-yung): His most famous works are “Taipei People” and “Crystal Boys”: both fascinating accounts of modernising Taipei (1960s, I believe) and they are both available with English translations! I have PDFs from a class I am taking right now, if you’re interested in having those! I can email them to you if you’d like.

      • I’m in Madison, Wisconsin at the moment which is a cute town. Funnily enough, I miss my American friends in other places more than I get homesick for England.

        So British advice. The first thing to remember about England is that it is really expensive! I don’t know what your long term career goals are so this may be more or less of a problem. I grew up in London and it’s a beautiful city but if I was moving back, I’d consider some of the smaller towns. (Although again, this is more or less feasible depending on what you plan on doing.) Brighton in particular but even Nottingham. They’re only a few hours by train from London and rents are much cheaper. Still somethings are better value there, it’s much easier to get affordable theatre tickets and most of the museums are free. So it’s a really fun place to take advantage of all the arts and culture. I used to go to school near the V&A so I’ll always have a soft spot for it.

        PDFs would be amazing! I’ll be able to read them on the kindle that my grandmother is getting me for my birthday. (Somehow, I thought being in my twenties would be less like being a child. In many ways I was mistaken.)

  4. Sure! I can email you the PDFs, Giulia, and Rowan, if you send me an email address, I can send the PDFs to you as well! I’m also writing a paper for a class comparing one of Pai Hsien Yung’s works to the work of modernists like Joyce, so I’ll be putting up a post about that soon!

  5. Going abroad is a great idea! Your perspective can only get wider and wiser. Although many parts of their culture WILL be incomprehensible, it’s just another lesson in life.

    I’ve been through a similar plan as what you are about to have- live abroad. The best advice I can give you is to have an open mind (no, really), and if things don’t go the way as you planned, don’t give up and move on.

    5 years will fly by really fast, and if things are not the way you wanted, don’t worry. 20s is when you explore and find about yourself. Many opportunities will come and you will need to be (again) open-minded of what YOU REALLY want to do. I used to think money was the best, but that won’t last if you have no passion for the work.

    You’re a smart and an ambitious lady (I just know it!). Best of luck!

    • Thank you for your kind words! Yes, I am happy that my plans will take me abroad, I don’t plan to return to the States for a while! It’s just hard to constantly shake off the standards that I put on myself: I have to be the top, I have to take the most credits, get the best resume and the best job–because I have so many friends who did it for the money, become i-bankers and lawyers and hated their jobs: and now they’re in Taipei, enjoying their lives! I have to be careful not to fall into the money trap, but it’s a bit hard because I still don’t know what I really want to do, so I just cast around for any goal, and right now, money seems the most concrete. But I’m learning! :)

  6. I’ve been reading through your blog this morning (I found the link on Formosa). I have to commend you on what a fantastic resource this is becoming and the honesty and maturity that comes through in your posts. I found myself nodding in agreement in a lot of your posts (incl. the post about education in Taiwan etc.)

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