Waiting to take the plain at LAX airport I started doing some self-reflection before boarding on to the 8-hour flight and reaching my final destination…Taiwan. Mainly, before coming to Taiwan what I knew about it summarizes in “Chinese dining” and those so popular “Jackie Chang” movies, where you can get a feeling how Asia/China looks like. (Mistakenly, I was not even aware of Taiwan as an independent country; I always associated Taiwan with being part of China. However, I did my research and learnt Taiwan’s history). Of course I was calmed, after being 30 minutes on my own after having the final good bye with my sister at the airport. But what could go wrong I though? Everything is going to be alright at the other side of the world? Why should I worried, I said to myself, you’re a big girl now theirs no need to worry, besides you are used to traveling and being away from the family. So at that point I started remember those good college years (4years) away from my country, living on my own, and such great experience. So I thought it was going to be something like that again. I also thought, having lived with a Chinese roommate for 4 consecutive years game once again a warm feeling, I thought a new a little bit about the culture and their traditions.

After 8 long hours of non-stop flying, we finally arrived in Taipei, Taiwan. At the airport everything seems so similar to Managua, Nicaragua and the USA. No need to worry I thought, however I unconsciously was trying to state calm. But their I am at the airport trying to stay calm in front of the rest of the 8 Nicaraguans, but it was hard for me to hold and I couldn’t take it anymore. I started crying once I started assimilating the differences between the known and the unknown (it wasn’t that easy anymore to pick up my cell phone and call my mom in California to say I’m here, everything is good), in other well known words I faced what is so popular called “culture-shock”. People looked so different, it was hard to relate to someone, I tried speaking English, as I was filled out with questions, but it was then I faced the first barrier… the “language barrier.”
After 3 months have passed by and whenever I look back at those first days at Taiwan so much has happened. It amazing how much Chinese I’ve learnt from my everyday 2 hour Chinese classes. Know I can “sort of communicate” with the locals and it feels so great to actually understand what are they are asking me. Theirs great culture differences that summarize in the following (within my culture and the Taiwanese culture):

SWO (strength, weakness, opportunities) Analysis of the Taiwanese Culture in My Prospective:

S: Committed to the rules every time reason why they have progressed so much (impressed on the fact that you are not allowed to chew gum when taking the MRT).
S: Hard working (non-stop, always waning to learn something new all the time)
W: Lack of good customer service (at major restaurants, the clientele is not treated like real customers).

W: Lack of politeness (people do not say sorry whenever they push or accidentally hit you in the streets).
O: Better sense of customer service.
O: Better sense of the fact that there’s an increasing number of foreigners in Taiwan for them to make the city and the sites more foreign friendly.

Now that I’m in Asian/Taiwan, I reflect on it and still ask myself how did I end up in the other part of the world? Home seems to be so far away. However, despite of the differences I’m loving it, leaving the Taiwanese way, in other words: 我喜歡台灣 !

Maria Antonia Jarquin Lopez is from Nicaragua and she gets enrolled in IMBA at NationalChengchiUniversity in 2006.