Belarus native shares experience of growing up in Taiwan

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Growing up in Taiwan as a “foreigner” includes many challenges such as learning a new language, adapting to a new culture, and coming to terms with one’s own identity being of defining importance. 

Ilya (毅力雅), a 19-year-old Belarus student arrived in Taiwan when he was 7 years old.

During an interview with YouTuber Lex (歐亞力), Ilya revealed that his family moved often because of his asthamtic condition.

When he was 4, the family traveled from Belarus to China, and later settled in Taiwan. 

Ilya said that he started learning Chinese when he entered fourth grade, and though he attended a bilingual school in his elementary school years, he was later admitted into local junior high and senior high schools in Taiwan.

To Ilya, the hardest part of the curriculum was definitely Chinese, and he added that when he first began lessons, he could not understand the uses of “Chengyu.” 

The traditional Chinese idiom which consists of four Chinese characters usually reference a story from the past and can encompass a wide range of situations depending on the characters used.

Ilya and Lex both admitted that they couldn’t understand it, and Ilya went on to say he thought Chinese lessons were also difficult in that it references a lot of Chinese history which was hard for him as a “foreigner” to grasp.

After living in Taiwan for almost 13 years, Ilya said he sees himself as Taiwanese, but also acknowledged that in certain ways, he’ll always be a “foreigner” to the eyes of locals. 

Ilya said Mandarin is his “go-to” language, but admits that he thinks in Russian.

When asked if he could change some things about Taiwan, what it would be, Ilya said probably the traffic or weather as it gets too crowded during rush hours.


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