When Nnenia Yasmeen moved to Taiwan, she knew it was a brave decision that made sense for her lifestyle, but had no idea how transformative it would be. A few years later, and she now has a husband she met while in Taiwan, a thriving YouTube channel worth of stories and experiences and a heightened sense of self. Quitting a 9-5 in exchange for a life in the lush pastures of Taiwan as an English Teacher – led to the kind of magic that most expats will recognize.

In this Travel Noire interview, Nnenia reflects on this period of her life abroad in Taiwan and encourages you to be bold enough to experience that “what did I just do?” moment, at least once in your life.

Tell us about yourself

moved to taiwan
Courtesy: Nnenia Yasmeen

My name is Nnenia Yasmeen. I’m 27 years old and originally from Phoenix, AZ. I come from a large family of 7 girls. I attended Hampton University where I studied and graduated with my Bachelors in Biology.

I met my now husband in Taiwan and we recently moved back to the States ( we wed January 2021). Personally, I’m a lover of fashion, media and culture. As an avid social media user I developed a passion for marketing, management, and content creation. Currently in my career, I’m creating a path where I can intertwine my interests for entertainment and creativity with business fundamentals. 

What led you to quit your job and move abroad?

moved to Taiwan
Courtesy: Nnenia Yasmeen

I was young and unfilled in my 9-5 office job. I was also teaching English to young students in China online as a second job to make ends meet. Ready for a big change, I was contemplating going back to the airlines to work as a flight attendant when a friend suggested I physically go to China to teach English. I figured I was young, no kids or relationship so I had nothing to lose and should try it out. My thought process was always that in the worst – case scenario I could just come back home.

I think a lot of people can resonate with that feeling. Kudos for being brave and taking the leap, but why Taiwan?

Once I made the decision, I did my research by watching videos online and joining multiple Facebook groups to hear from other expats and their experiences. Through my research I found a lot of conflicting information on the experiences of Black expats living in China. For me it was a little unsettling to take that gamble. In the midst of that, a young lady reached out to me and asked if I had ever considered Taiwan. I was completely unfamiliar with it but as I went on to do more research I found most people had great experiences there. Most importantly it was a progressive country, safe for women and Black people and the low cost of living compared to the salary I could get paid would allow me to travel and save in the meantime.

Was it what you were expecting?

I didn’t set any expectations prior to my move. Even though I read, watched and spoke to many people about their experiences, I still went in with an open mind and left room for my journey to be its own.

How did you prepare to teach English abroad in Taiwan?

moved to Taiwan
Courtesy: Nnenia Yasmeen

I watched a lot of YouTube videos from other teachers living abroad and reached out to many via the Facebook groups I joined.

What is the best memory you have from making this big jump?

The best memory I have is when I initially landed. I remember that’s when the decision had really hit me. I was in a foreign country completely by myself. It was the only time I had really thought to myself “what did I just do?” It didn’t last long though. By the time we were off the plane I was bright – eyed and couldn’t wait to see what I’d be met with outside of the airport. I remember the anticipation being both exciting and nerve – wracking all at the same time.

What are your top 5 tips for packing up and moving abroad?

Courtesy: Nnenia Yasmeen
1 – Just do it – if you’re already considering it, then you’re ready to go for it. 
2 – Doing your research is good but try not to compare or figure out what your journey will look like based on other people’s experiences. Allow yourself to have your own. 
3 – Let go of the idea of what’s “normal”. Everything will be different. Embrace the change rather than trying to compare it to what you know. There is no right or wrong way of life when moving to a new country. 
4 – Be open minded –  don’t get caught up in your own expectations/ plans. You will surely change and so will they. 
 5 – Get in touch with the locals and other foreigners. Familiarize yourself with new cultures, traditions, food, languages for the best experience. 
We hope you feel motivated to make as bold a move as Nnenia did. Keep up with her new life after Taiwan on her YouTube channel.