From DC to Taiwan: Catching up with Alumnus Andrew Jones

There are an incredible number of paths that someone can experience life. I was able to catch up with Andrew Jones from Cohort 26 this month, who studied aerospace engineering at UMD. I’d written an article about him just before summer, when he was approaching his one year anniversary of working at Appian in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Since then, Andrew decided to leave Appian and relocate to Taipei, Taiwan. At the moment, he is studying Mandarin at National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU). He’s not working towards a degree currently, but is hoping to work on his Chinese and get it to a level where he can use it professionally.

Andrew with some of his new classmates

Andrew’s motivation behind this move stemmed from a variety of factors. One of them was being able to live in a different part of the world. Andrew said, “I was not keen on settling down there for the rest of my life (or rather, I wanted to see what living in other areas of the world was like before settling down if I were to come back to live in DC long term).” He picked Taiwan because of its location, as it is close to many other countries that he is interested in exploring and because it’s where his mother’s side of the family resides. Additionally, he wanted to properly learn Chinese since it is a language he only acquired from listening to his parents talk while growing up. Andrew said, “There’s no better way to quickly improve your language skills than immersing yourself in a country and culture where that language is spoken,” and I think there’s definite truth in that.

While in Taiwan, Andrew’s been busy exploring Taipei. One of his favorite places so far is Taroko National Park in Hualien (on the east coast of Taiwan). In Andrew’s words, “It’s a huge gorge that cuts through from central Taiwan to the east coast, and surrounding the area are these immense mountains and beautiful marble in the river. Rent a motorbike, and you can actually drive along carved-out roads that run parallel to the gorge.” That does sound like an absolute blast.

Taroko National Gorge (picture courtesy of Andrew Jones)

Andrew’s been able to learn a lot from this move to Taiwan. He said, “You’re traveling to and shifting into an environment that’s unfamiliar, and more often than not, there will be new situations you encounter that you couldn’t prepare for beforehand. Even with family in Taiwan and having traveled here on a couple occasions, actually coming here for a longer term brought an abundance of challenges and things to learn that I’m even still navigating to this day.” He’s also been able to expand his network through his travels and by attending NTNU right now, meeting a diverse new group of students and forging meaningful connections with them.

Andrew’s currently enjoying life in Taiwan. However, he’s open to taking his life in any direction that catches his fancy. He mentioned that he’s always wanted to try living in the Pacific Northwest in the U.S., so hopefully he gets the chance to do that some day as well. Andrew – thanks for showing us that #theQUESTneverends!

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