Dr. Michi Fu Straddles Between Living in the U.S. and Taiwan Ep 118

1 March 2021


A note from Talking Taiwan host Felicia Lin:


Dr. Michi Fu is a professor, psychologist, writer, public speaker and experience creator. She spoke with me about how her mother’s decision to retire in Taiwan led her to decide to take a one-year sabbatical in Taiwan and to apply for Taiwan citizenship- which proved to be an arduous process but well worth it in the end. It has allowed her to more easily travel and straddle between living in the U.S. and Taiwan. As she’s spent more time residing in Taiwan, she’s faced challenges adulting in Taiwan due to limited language and cultural proficiency. We spoke in depth about how she’s dealt with all this by learning to let go of cultural norms and expectations, and found ways to build a community for herself in Taiwan.


While in Taiwan she’s connected with expat communities like the Black lives Matter and Burning Man Taiwan communities, participated in a bilingual version of the Vagina Monologues, and she’s also been invited to participate in the 228 Transitional Justice Project. I found that to be a timely topic of conversation indeed, with the 74th anniversary of the 228 Incident having just passed.


Also referred to as The 228 Massacre, or The 228 Uprising, 228 is February 28, 1947, the date that the arrest of a cigarette seller in Taipei sparked protests over the corruption and repression of the ruling Kuomintang party at the time. What followed were the disappearance and execution of thousands by the Kuomintang. Some say up to 20 thousand were murdered. It led to the declaration of martial law and it was the beginning of the reign of White Terror in Taiwan that lasted for decades.


CORRECTION: At the 45-minute mark of Michi’s interview when she stated that she had arrived on holiday for her dissertation, she had arrived during the Dragon Boat Holiday for her sabbatical not her dissertation.


Photo above of Dr. Michi Fu is courtesy of  Tobie Openshaw


Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:


  • Michi’s upbringing and where she grew up
  • Michi’s connection to Taiwan
  • The study tour that Michi has co-organized with Dr. Tsuann Kuo (Founder of NATWA II)
  • How Michi’s perception of Taiwan has changed over time
  • How she’s met expats who have made Taiwan their home and out be interested in applying for citizenship in Taiwan
  • The reason why Michi decided to apply for citizenship and residency in Taiwan, and to split her time between the U.S. and Taiwan
  • What’s involved in the process to apply for citizenship and residency in Taiwan if you have a Taiwan birthright (i.e. parents born in Taiwan, and have residency and citizenship in Taiwan)
  • What the Yo yo card is and how to use it
  • Residency status that children of Taiwanese nationals can apply for to stay longer than a passport visa
  • The number of days required to stay in Taiwan in order to able to apply for citizenship
  • Michi’s sense of Taiwanese and Taiwanese American identity
  • Michi’s participation in the 228 Transitional Justice Project
  • The challenges of learning a language later in life
  • How Michi sometimes feels like a Third Culture Kid
  • How Michi has learned from cultural misunderstandings
  • How Michi has connected with and made friends through the expat community in Taiwan
  • What Michi misses about the U.S. when she’s in Taiwan
  • What Michi misses about Taiwan when she’s in the U.S.
  • What advice Michi has for those considering applying for Taiwan residency and citizenship
  • What advice Michi has for those considering spending more of the calendar year living in Taiwan
  • The different cultural expectations of Taiwan and the U.S.
  • The challenges of adulting in Taiwan with limited language and cultural proficiency
  • The wage gap for certain professions in Taiwan vs. the U.S.
  • The things Michi considers in deciding to live in Taiwan full-time
  • How Michi built her own sense of community by connecting with the expat community and Facebook groups



Related Links and Terms:


Michi’s Psychology Today Profile: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/los-angeles-county-monterey-park-ca/73177


The local love boat program that Michi attended: The 2006 Overseas Young Health Professionals Program OCAC Taipei, Taiwan


Love Boat Study Tour Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Boat_(study_tour)


OCAC (Overseas Community Affairs Council): https://www.ocac.gov.tw/OCAC/Eng/


NATMA (North American Taiwanese Medical Association): https://www.natma.org/


NATWA (North American Taiwanese Women’s Association): http://www.natwa.com/


NATWA II: http://natwa.com/natwa2/about.html


TECO (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office)


TECRO (Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States): https://www.taiwanembassy.org/us_en/index.html


Yo yo card 悠遊卡 (Pinyin: Yōu-yóu Kǎ) aka EasyCard: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EasyCard



Hong Kong’s Octopus card: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octopus_card



Shēnfènzhèng (民身分證) the national identification card of Taiwan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_identification_card_(Taiwan)


What is 228?: http://www.taiwandc.org/228-intr.htm



Third culture kid: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_culture_kid


Thrive Tour (private) Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/491147317734655/

A video from the first class of a tour that Michi organized for the Masters of Global Health program for NTU (National Taiwan University): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4K70K9OKd80&feature=youtu.be


A list of the Facebook groups that Michi joined and that connected her with the expat community in Taiwan:


Taiwan Foodie Girls Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/302771153463762/about


Formosa Improv Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/FormosaImprovGroup


Women Anonymous Reconnecting Mentally Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/323198761492476


Subtle Taiwanese Traits Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/583249345764112/


COVID-19 group for returnees Facebook group (in Mandarin Chinese): https://www.facebook.com/groups/889736338130271


The play White Rabbit Red Rabbit: https://www.nassimsoleimanpour.com/whiterabbitredrabbit


Burning Man community in Taiwan: https://www.facebook.com/groups/BurningManTaiwan


Black Lives Matter community in Taiwan: https://www.facebook.com/BLMTaiwan



Our Talking Taiwan listeners may be interested in these other related episodes:


Love Boat Taiwan: Interview with Asian American Studies Professor and Filmmaker Valerie Soe Ep 66: https://www.talkingtaiwan.com/love-boat-taiwan-interview-asian-american-studies-professor-film-maker-valerie-soe-ep-66/


An Interview With Author Jennifer J. Chow About The 228 Legacy and Her Other Books Ep 65: https://www.talkingtaiwan.com/interview-author-jennifer-j-chow-228-legacy-books-ep-65/


Black Lives Solidarity Global Initiative: Founders Stefanie Davis and Patrick Springer Ep 84: https://www.talkingtaiwan.com/black-lives-solidarity-global-initiative-founders-stefanie-davis-and-patrick-springer/


Jaleea Price Talks About Living in Taiwan Ep 90: https://www.talkingtaiwan.com/jaleea-price-talks-about-living-in-taiwan-ep-90/


Boba: https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/what-is-boba-bubble-tea-tapioca-balls


Love Boat Taiwan: Interview with Asian American Studies Professor and Filmmaker Valerie Soe Ep 66


An Interview With Author Jennifer J. Chow About The 228 Legacy and Her Other Books Ep 65


Black Lives Solidarity Global Initiative: Founders Stefanie Davis and Patrick Springer Ep 84


Jaleea Price Talks About Living in Taiwan Ep 90







  • Michi Fu says:

    Thank you so much for the opportunity to chat about becoming Taiwanese, Felicia. Looking forward to hearing from others regarding their experiences too as I know there have been more and more returnees in response to the pandemic.

    Ai Daiwan,
    Michi Fu

    P.S. Apologies that I meant to say I arrived on Dragon Boat Holiday for my sabbatical (not dissertation) at ~45 min.

    • Felicia Lin says:

      It was a pleasure having you on Talking Taiwan Michi. You are such a wealth of knowledge for those considering relocating to Taiwan. Hearing about your experiences reminded me of how I went through something similar with my adjustment to living in Kaohsiung first, and then the arduous process of applying for my Taiwan citizenship that came next. Unfortunately, in hearing what you went through it doesn’t seem like much has changed with that process.

      Thanks for mentioning the correction at the 45-minute mark of your interview. We will put that in the notes for the podcast and website.
      Echoing your sentiment: Ai Daiwan!

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