Being from a country of 85% Muslims and a Muslim myself has been the greatest challenge to my stay in Taiwan. A day before I was schedule to fly to Taiwan, My mum sat me down and advised me not to eat any food that may be against my moral teachings in Taiwan. She jokingly said “Do not eat FROG” unless it is a matter of life and death. I laughed it off.

My first culture shock took place when I arrived at the NTNU Graduate dormitory in Ting Zhou road. I sat comfortably waiting for “my mattress” for my bed. My room mate asked “Are you not going to Unpack?” and I replied yes but I am waiting for my mattress. She suddenly looked at me and said “there is no mattress, this is the bed”. I started to cry. I began to imagine the spongy and nice bed I left home only to come and sleep on “wood”. You know what? After one month, I became the leading advocate for hard beds! I felt so comfortable on my tiny bed with my FAT BODY that sometimes I over sleep! Hahahaha

 

My second shock which still grips me is the fact that Taiwanese do not greet people when they meet each other, especially in class. In my country, if I see you and do not greet you, it means you have offended me and I am keeping grudge against you. My first week was very hard. My Taiwanese class mates will just enter the class and sit down without a word to me. I always feel bad. Guess what?? I have adopted!!

My third shock came just few weeks later. Every day, I wake up in the morning; I perform my prayers in my room. It was only later that my room mates confirmed to me that they have never seen a Muslim pray!!! I never imagine there is someone in this world who has never seen Muslims pray!!

My forth and final culture shock was in Taichung. One of our Professors invited us to her house. We were three foreign students and one Taiwanese student. Our Professor took us to a very classy restaurant to eat. In that restaurant, we have to pick the raw food we want and then take it to the Chef to cook for us. I choose only sea food. As I was eating, my Taiwanese classmate came with a plate full of nice looking and spicy food. He asked me to taste since I love spicy food. I took a mouthful and it was so nice. I then asked my room mate to taste also. We then asked what kind of food it was and the reply was “sweet chicken”. Our Professors husband just turned and said “that is FROG” I was so terrified that I thought I will be sick for the rest of my life. I wanted to put my finger in my mouth to induce vomiting but I was shy to do that. Then I remembered that I proposed a rule in our room that “whoever eats FROG will not sleep in the room that night” My room mates suddenly remembered the rule and they wanted to implement it. I had to beg to ANNUL the rule!!. They had to forgive me for once. I called my Mum to tell her I ate the forbidden FROG and my twin sister told me that my mum was so shocked that she did not eat for a whole day! Why? Because she thought that there is no food in Taipei that’s why I ate the FROG! That was the biggest shock of all.

By Adama Ceesay
Graduate Student
Department of IWED
NTNU