Being a foreigner in Taiwan is one of the most challenging and amazing experiences I have ever lived. Three years ago because of my last job I traveled to Peru, a beautiful country in South America, things were interesting there, but that experience was not even close to what I have experienced in Taiwan. Such an amazing island enveloped in a rich and totally different culture of what I am used to. I mentioned Peru because it was a different country from Nicaragua, but it was similar at the same time, which means I still was in Latin America. People in certain ways behave the same, food is quite similar and the way we Latin American people interact is almost the same everywhere, of course with some interesting peculiarities.
 
Taiwan on the other hand is a land of millenary cultures with mixed flavor from Hakka people, Taiwanese aborigines and Chinese among others. A land that is used to receive “Wai Guo Ren” like me with arms wide open, this beautiful land is full of very polite people, who look shy at the beginning but when you get to know them better are very friendly and hospitable. They are all the time trying to help you with a smile in his face, showing that you can count on them. Surely not all Taiwanese speaks English, which become difficult for Chinese-language illiterate like me to communicate with them, but still you can see them making an effort to communicate with you, trying to help you, for instance when you ask for an address, food or prices in their fabulous night markets.
 
In this article I don’t know what kind of de-benefit of being a foreigner I can mention, because from my point of view, in Taiwan, time and effort can solve anything. At the beginning it was difficult for me to ask for food because I didn’t speak a word of Chinese, but now in NTHU where I am very proud of studying my masters, I am also studying the Chinese language, so now I can solve some problems with my basic skill of the language. I remember a few weeks after my arriving I wanted to buy a “pancake” (抓餅 – zhua bing) and spent like 20 minutes trying to explain to the saleswoman that I want to add an extra egg to my order, and I have no idea how to tell her. I remember I tried with all kind of gestures in order to be understood; and she was there with her peaceful smile showing me that she want to help me but have no idea of what I was trying to say, it was so frustrating and fun at the same time, finally she understood and I walked away with my delicious pancake with extra of egg and my refreshing “綠茶” (green tea), something that now I have to admit I have become an addict.
 
Besides the language, there is another issue that is a little bit hard for foreigners to get used to, especially for people from Latin American. In our counties, we are used to interact physically with friends and people we consider very close to us, we shake our hands and we kiss our cheeks when a man meets a woman for instance. But in Taiwan there is no such kind of interaction, Taiwanese respect very much their private space, they need certain distance with people around them to feel comfortable. Therefore there is no contact when we meet a Taiwanese girl for example or we don’t shake our hands when we interact with a professor to say good bye and it is a little bit difficult to get used to at the beginning; because that is customary in our countries. After a couple of involuntary reactions of shaking hands, some embarrassing laughing and a few months knowing their customs, one gets used to it.

Finally, benefits of being a "Wai Guo Ren" here in Taiwan are a lot. I can mention security as one of them; although Nicaragua is the safest country in Central America, Taiwan shows extremely high level of security, every foreigner can walk safe in that mystic island and feel free to go and know its beautiful temples, monuments, marvelous gardens and tastes all kinds of exotic foods. I love Taiwan, I am impressed with their culture and customs, the quality of its education, its advanced technology, the respect Taiwanese people show among them and their high sense of responsibility. It makes me want to learn more from them, and hopefully going back to my country and share the knowledge and good customs with current and future generations. As, we should see Taiwan as an example that with effort and perseverance all goals can be achieved.

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