When I travelled to Russia eight years ago, I barely suffered any culture shock at all. I thought I wasn’t going to suffer any culture shock when I came to Taiwan. In reality, I hated my first few months in Taiwan. Well, maybe it was because I had a lot of Gambian friends around me for most of the time during my stay in Russia so I did not feel it.

I believe the hardest thing to adjust to life in Taiwan is the language barrier. It is very frustrating going to a restaurant to eat and you cannot order food because of not being able to speak the language and unable to read the Chinese characters. I can remember my first dinner in Tainan. I went to a restaurant and wanted to order some food. The menu was all in Chinese, unfortunately for me none of the waiters and waitresses didn’t understand much English. I ended up ordering some by looking at the picture on the menu. I was served a dish that I found very hard to eat. Once I started learning, speaking and understanding a little bit of Chinese, I began to understand the Taiwanese culture and things were less frustrating as before.

I also noticed that it is not common for people to shake hands, especially men. Where I am from we shake hands when greeting someone older or with all persons present every time you meet them as a sign of respect or as a sign of peace especially in churches. In the Catholic Church service, the members of the congregation make peace with God in asking Him to forgive their sins. We shake hands in church is a sign of making peace with each other and to reconcile any differences or arguments before we come to our Lord’s banquet table. A handshake also symbolises our rightness with and love for each other. At first I found it very strange to see that they don’t shake hands but after going to church I found out that they in fact don’t shake hands when it is time for peace. Well maybe it is because of some health reasons that they have a fear of hand contact with complete strangers and for that one needs to find out. Nonetheless I have adapted to that since it is said, you do in Rome as Romans do.

Undoubtedly, there are a lot of special and delicious local dishes and snacks in Taiwan. With all the many delicious dishes to choose from, one thing I found rather strange to see people eating roasted bee larvae. Honestly speaking I cannot imagine myself eating that type of food although it said that it is very rich in some food nutrients. Anyway I don’t seem to care anymore about what people eat when I go out to eat with them. Eating bee larvae may not be to everyone’s taste, there are many people around the world who have a speciality or two that people from other countries and cultures may find a bit strange.. As the saying goes, one man’s food is another man’s poison.

To adjust to a new country and a new culture can be really hard; especially when one does not want to adapt or accept a culture that is totally different from his/her own culture. The best way I tried to get myself accustomed to the cultural difference was to try to know the Taiwanese culture itself by getting involved. I believe that everyone will experience culture shock whenever they are in a country different from their respective countries, especially when it is a in a different continent.  Accept and embrace aspects of the culture and you would really enjoy you find it very easy to acclimatize yourself.

 

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