Sheng first piloted for the Ísafjarðarbær ports authority as temporary summer relief in 2019 and then moved back to Taiwan—but when a permanent position came up last winter, she decided to apply and was offered the job.
“I was very happy to hear this news, because it gave me the opportunity to choose: either stay in Taiwan to find a job, or come here to have another, different lifestyle—so I said yes to him,” Sheng says.
When Sheng came to study in Iceland in 2018, she had worked for 14 years on board freight ships, including four years as captain. She was the third woman in Taiwan to become a ship’s captain. Sheng spent an average of nine months a year at sea.
Unsure if life among the six million residents of Taipei was quite right for her, Sheng was nevertheless firmly decided that a life at sea was not in her future. Ísafjörður came along as a welcome third option and she has now bought a house there and is the proud owner of an Icelandic sheepdog called Píla.
"In Taipei, in Taiwan, I lived, but I used a calendar, I used numbers, always to know: 'it’s a time, it’s a date'. But here, I use the colours to feel: 'oh, it’s the autumn, or it’s the winter coming'. It’s a different feeling. You feel your time gets slower and you feel quiet, and you are more giving yourself time. Sometimes in Taipei, I just wondered: 'I don’t know why I’m busy'. I’m busy every day, but I don’t know why, and I don’t know how to make myself become peaceful again. But here, I kind of find it and I have more time for myself.” Sheng says she uses the time to think, to read, and to write—and believes that her current location is a key factor in giving her the lifestyle she is looking for.
Despite enjoying life and its current stability, Sheng says she refuses to plan any further than three years ahead—especially during the current situation. Instead, she just wants to go for regular walks with Píla.
The above video includes regular interview segments in English.