Culture shock in Taiwan

23 05 2011

relaxing gardensLast week after ages, I gave a look to a blog of an old contact: the person that introduced me to Flickr, then visited me in Norway and then I visited in Taiwan..

Many important things that unfortunately got mixed with 2 messed up personalities (hers and mine) and led us to be.. nothing anymore..

But even if I think she canceled me completely, I cannot do that, because thanks to her too, I had a wonderful time in Taiwan and I hope to go back there again soon. No risk we meet since she moved 😉

Jhu-Si templeAnd it is about Taiwan the reason I write this post. Among her posts I found a link to an article written by a Canadian girl that stayed in Taiwan a few months as English teacher, and she really hated everything there.

I read the article and some of the comments. The topic is about the cultural crash, so in the article one could expect a lot of “bad” things, seen from a person that mostly took the differences as negative. No judgement, just an observation this one.

A few comments got the same feeling I have: the girl made the mistake, for me terrible, to write almost only about the bad things, but, at the end, the post is about the crash she suffered! So it was understandable she did not want to write too many positive aspects. Also I am not saying that she was wrong or making things up. I share actually a similar point of view now with my Chinese experience.

Water robots?But strictly about Taiwan, she experienced Taichung, 臺中, while I went to Tainan, 臺南. She was in the center, I was in the South, and during my 10 days there I went North, all the way to Taipei,  臺北 (for 2 rainy days, but interesting stuff!) and then all the way South to Kenting, a paradise. I have only one huge disappointment from Taiwan: I lost many pictures!!! I cannot find anymore the pictures from Kenting and some of the pictures from the other places. My new good friend there, Iris, always tell me that it is fate that I will have to go back.. Probably it is, but for me losing pictures is almost worse than losing.. a finger!! 😦

pink houseFor me Taiwan experience has been 10 days of fun, discovery, lots of those done alone, new experiences, especially food ones, and a great chance to meet several nice people.

One thing surprised me of the girl point of view: complaining about people not speaking English. OK, in normal food street shops or other small shops it’s like China, but when I went out in the evenings or to larger shops even in Tainan it was quite easy to find people that could speak some English. Also I am sure the Canadian couple went almost only to ex-pat places, and there 90% of the locals can speak English.

In Taiwan I never really suffered big frustrations. But during my life in China I do certainly have shared some of her feelings though: I also hate to feel helpless, thing very common for me here, since I almost have no communication means. And the frustration kicks in, from time to time. She writes:

“Grappling with it all was exhausting. My days were marked by frustration, shock and disbelief”

But it is a little too extreme for me! 😀

harbour - anpingThings I don’t share at all are the complaints about bugs, pollution, confusion, food, etc etc.. I have been in Beijing during the Olympic games (when they had closed several factories just to decrease the pollution level) and only there and then I can say I experienced pollution. And I used to live in Norway (Canada is clean, but cleaner than Norway?? So clean that this girl can strongly complain?). In Taiwan I can’t say I felt oppressed by pollution. 🙂

The only bad memories I have from Taiwan is.. all the pictures I lost!! The complaints I would never be able to share are those about the food.

That is probably together with photography one of the best way I have to experience a new place, a new culture, a new country (another way of course is a local girlfriend.. and I have been lucky in this as well..).

I do hope to get back to Taiwan, maybe also for living there, as another step between my present life and my Japanese dream.. Taiwan is really there, along the way! 🙂

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