Overall the Taiwanese people are a friendly people. I myself am a very friendly person but unfortunately that is not the topic. I love to make friends everywhere I go. I think it just comes natural for me to make friends. One of my favourite quotes is, “A good friend is better than pocket money!” This is certainly true in my situation where I am so very far away from home.

In my home country of Belize I have several Taiwanese friends. From them I became acquainted with Taiwanese hospitality and aspects of Taiwanese culture. One might presume that their hospitality is because they are in a foreign place and therefore are forced to adopt. This however is not the case. It was no different upon my arrival in Taipei, Taiwan, some three months ago.
Back then my first encounter with friendship was not only with Taiwanese locals. I spent the first ten days in an orientation into Taiwanese lifestyle and culture. Here several other countries from all over the world were represented by students who are part of the TaiwanICDF scholarship program. I made many friends amongst them and the Taiwanese locals. The local students who were designated as our councillors were very friendly to us. They made us feel at home even though we are so very far away from home. After those ten days I made many friends but then it was time to depart for our respective universities.
A total of six international students, including myself, were dispatched to NCKU in Tainan. Upon our arrival we were greeted by our Program Manager along with several seniors from the department and the treatment was just the same. They provided assistance in whatever we needed in order for us to settle into our new homes. Even up to this day they are always there to assist in whatever way they can. When we met out classmates the situation was the same. Even some professors from our department have been extremely hospitable as much as going beyond the call of their duty to be accommodating.
Friendship off the campus and outside of student life is also worth mentioning. I have met many people who just want to communicate but it is just the language barrier that is the problem. A common line that I often hear is “My English is not good.” This is mostly common with the local students though. I met several local students in the dormitory who want to talk but are held back because their “English is not good.” I often tell them that also, “My Chinese is not good, but I want to learn.” So I often get invitations for language exchange which I do follow up on.
I have met many friends in the stores, restaurants and kiosks where I do regular shopping. There is this one experience which I would like to go into a little more details with. I have been a practising vegetarian for six years now and have been having problems in finding appropriate food. I found out that my Chinese Lao Shi is also vegetarian so I told her about my predicament. She showed me three vegetarian restaurants where I stated to have lunch and dinner regularly.
One day I was having dinner adjacent to three gentlemen in one of these restaurants. Well as usual I was the one to start conversation. It turns out that one of them was a Professor from NCKU and the other two were his students. We exchanged information about ourselves and our e-mail address. Then they were giving me directions to other restaurants where I could find more varieties of vegetarian food. There was a lady sitting on the other side of the room who was listening to our conversation. Apparently the instructions were not clear enough, coupled with the language barrier. She came over with a sketch of the directions on a piece of paper, gave it to the Professor and then went back to sit down.
Shortly the gentlemen were done eating and left. The lady then came over to where I was and started talking. We also exchanged information and then she made a comment that never occurred to me before. She said, “It seems that people like to talk to you!” This story is interesting because I have always thought that it was the exact opposite of that. I like to meet new people and talk to people.
It became obvious to me at that point that the whole idea of friendship is twofold. That it is always nice to treat people in exactly the way that you would like to be treated. The idea is not to associate with others only for personal gain and whenever there is something in it for you. According to the Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia, “Friendship is a term used to denote co-operative and supportive behaviour between two or more humans.”
Floyd.doc1.92 MB