Taipei vs. Washington, D.C. (Part II)

Taipei vs. Washington, D.C. (Part II)

If you missed my last post, Taipei vs. Washington, D.C. (Part I), you may want to start there! In this blog series, I'm comparing Taipei (the capital of Taiwan where I grew up) and D.C. (the capital of U.S. where I am now interning).

 

Legal Drinking Age

 

Let’s start Part II of this series with a more relaxing fact! For college students in Taiwan, the drinking age is never an issue, because everyone is able to drink before entering college. Some official events held for freshmen even include drinks. However, here in D.C., the drinking age is 21, which is either a junior or senior year in college. Although I am not a fan of having a beer or drinking too often, I am really thankful that I am over 21 during my short stay here in D.C., because it allows me to experience the nightlife and enjoy partying without feeling guilty or risky. Of course, missing the bars and nightlife in D.C. is not the end of the world, but the experience is a bit different if you're not able to enter those places that require you to be over 21!

 

Lunch Box

This item is probably the biggest pain for most international students interning here (at least it is my biggest headache). Let me explain why eating out or even getting a takeout lunch can cause such a burden on a tight budget in D.C. In the most expensive business district in downtown Taipei, you can get a balanced lunchbox with enough meat, vegetable, rice, and sometimes even with soup and drink, for roughly $3. Eating dinner in a famous steakhouse can cost less than $16. Here in D.C., a bowl of takeout salad can cost you more than $10 (don’t forget the TAX!!!) and a dinner out can just ruin your weekly budget. However, if you look on the bright side, this difference actually forces me to practice my cooking skills and offers me the chance to shop around the supermarkets (I am a BIG hopeless fan of Harris Teeter and Safeway). What I want to emphasize is that, however huge the differences and challenges are, we could always regard them as a chance to grow, to know ourselves and to discover our potential. We can compare as much as we like, just don't complain too much.

 

Apartment Rent

This is one fact everyone needs to know before moving to D.C. I can use my friend as examples to illustrate this difference: he rented a sofa in the living room to save money during his exchange semester here in D.C. It seemed strange for a student to couch surf for a whole semester just to save money, but the rent was three times more than the average rent in Taipei. Even compared to Los Angeles, a big city in U.S., the rental fee in D.C. is still way more expensive, almost double the price. As for Taipei, a double room near campus costs less than $150 per person, while a single room costs around $200. Even in the business district, the rental is still below $250, affordable for white-collar workers (but too high compared to the rent in suburban areas or other cities in Taiwan). It’s hard to say which capital city is better for keeping a budget, because we have always take wage and expenses into account together. However, as students or interns who have no income, the costs are the biggest issue to take care of! If you plan to stay in D.C. not for work, it’s always better to make the budget ahead to overcome this huge difference.

 

Median Age at Marriage for Women

It is a known fact that some developed Asian countries, such as Japan and Taiwan, are suffering from low birth rates and low marriage rates. In a fast-paced capital city with high pressures to make ends meet, it is understandable for women choose to marry later or stay single. However, I was kind of curious whether women in Taiwan marry later than women in D.C., so I did some homework and found the latest official statistic data in 2015. The results show that women in Taipei marry at the age 33.3 on average, about three years older than women in D.C. I think here that the difference is not large, because marrying at either 33 or 30 are both considered quite old compared to rest of the world. To give you some background knowledge, I listed the median age of some areas here: the average age of marriage for U.S. women is a whole is 27 years old, and in China it's 25 years old. From this, we might guess that the higher pressure people are under, the later people tend to get married. Therefore, if your dream is to get married as soon as possible, maybe capital cities such as D.C. and Taipei are not your best choices!

 

Starbucks

 

Last but definitely not least, Starbucks. Like McDonalds, Starbucks is everywhere around the world, so it makes sense to use Starbucks as a standard to compare prices between cities. However, it does not work at all when it comes to comparing Starbucks in D.C. and in Taipei, because the prices are EXACTLY the same, which is really a great blessing to a Starbucks fan like me. It’s incredible for two cities with a large gap of income and expenses to share the same price for every drink in Starbucks. I don’t know how Starbucks sets price in different countries, but one thing is for sure: the drinks and prices work well in both cities, as evidenced by the long lines every morning! I am not trying to advertise for the already too famous Starbucks; however, I hope this exception in comparison can encourage people to explore more and find fun in experiencing different cultures.

 

It's the end of my comparison series, but not the end of my blog! Keep following and see you again soon.


Read Jill's previous blog posts here

Experience a Day in the Life of an Intern at The Washington Center

Learn More