Last April, I was bar-hopping around Taipei when I felt my phone buzz in my pocket. It was a push notification reporting that the United States had just logged 1 million cases of COVID-19. I locked the screen and looked around, stunned by the weight of the news and slightly guilt-ridden on behalf of my absurd privilege; there I was, surrounded by strangers, living in one of the most densely populated cities in the world, and the pandemic had barely crossed my mind all day.
During my year in Taiwan, the world turned on its head. As cases skyrocketed and my family and friends holed up in lockdown in the US, the little life I had carved out for myself in Taiwan remained largely untouched.
Even with Wuhan, the center of the pandemic back in early 2020, just a short flight away, Taiwan managed to become one of the nations least touched by COVID-19. According to the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control, as of December 21, 2020, there have been fewer than 800 confirmed cases in the country.
During the last few sessions with my Chinese tutor, she repeatedly tried to talk me out of going home. “America is