Work, Life, and Identity Negotiation in a Foreign Land: A Study of Taiwanese Working Holiday Makers in Belgium

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Hsien Ming Lin
Ching Lin Pang
Da Chi Liao


This study examined the living and working experiences of 14 Taiwanese working holiday makers (WHMs) in Belgium as they negotiate their identity and social lives while they live overseas, using both participant observation and semi-structured interviews. The study demonstrates that the low salary level and high work pressure in Taiwan are two of the major factors pushing these young Taiwanese to leave their homeland and work overseas. However, the majority of these Taiwanese WHMs face difficulties in speaking Belgium’s local languages, and their opportunities for work are further limited by the temporary visa regulations. Workplaces run by mainland Chinese, especially in the hospitality industry, have become vital places for Taiwanese WHMs to negotiate their ethnonational identity. Although they only have limited social lives and networks in the host society, they claim that they have developed intercultural competences and a greater open-mindedness by living in the multicultural and international environments of Brussels or other Belgian cities.

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Articles (refereed)