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

Felicia Lin
5 min readSep 20, 2021

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

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


White Terror Era: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Terror_(Taiwan)


Vagina Monologues: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Vagina_Monologues

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/

Listen to Episode 118: Dr. Michi Fu Straddles Between Living in the U.S. and Taiwan HERE

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Felicia Lin

Felicia Lin is the producer and host of Talking Taiwan, the longest running Taiwan-related podcast, and Golden Crane Podcast Award Winner.