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23. What Surprises Me in Taiwan?

What does surprise me here in Taiwan is not an easy question to answer; there are many things that have caught my attention, not only kind people but also security, landscapes, food and curious customs.

 When I was in the plane coming to Taiwan, I was worried about how I would communicate with local people because my Chinese skills were very poor. The first time I tried to ask something to a Taiwanese person I was astonished at the way he made an effort to help me. Even though some people have difficulties communicating in English, they do their best to help me.  They even call friends via cell phone or try to draw for my understanding.

Taiwan Security is really amazing. You can walk in the street at any time without any fear because nothing bad will happen to you. I have perceived that Taiwanese people are so wel- educated and are so loyal to their values that you do not feel afraid of leaving your belongings at any place because you know that nobody will steal them. Despite I am in a foreign country, all these facts make me feel secure and relieved.

Taiwan’s natural landscapes are very beautiful. I have had the opportunity to visit many of these places. One that caught my attention was Yehliu. When I was there I was surprised with the rock formations and of course with the famous Queen’s head rock. Also there are places that show Taiwan’s essence just like the Sun Moon Lake.  It is a delightful experience to be there, to see how people show their religiosity in the temples around the lake.

Have you ever imagined being at the other side of the world? Two years ago I was working and living a regular life with my family. I did not have any established plans. Then I got curious and started wondering what to do next, and that’s how I found out about ICDF. And after an application process which I knew it was both longer and harder than I remembered, I was granted with a scholarship. A scholarship to study at the other side of the world.

My mom always told us about the world she knew, describing it as a hard place to live in, but with greater rewards, and that it doesn’t matter where you go, you will always find good and bad there. And when you live in your own little world apart from the big real one (your little island), you tend to focus on what’s wrong at home, imagining things can’t be worse anywhere. That happens when you have no reason to miss your land, your home. Now that I do, I see what was good in there. And I can say that is one of the biggest surprises I had in Taiwan. Finding out how much I miss Peru. Don’t get me wrong. This island is worth being called Formosa. I met fantastic people, both caring and as friendly as only they can get. It has a great social structure and fairness among its inhabitants. Its transportation systems, economic strategies, international links, are just some of the things I wish everybody could experience everywhere. Including home. And of course it does have some issues, and I neither understand nor have the right to judge them. It is hard to be away, but I would never leave without finishing what I started here. I think in the end Taiwan proved my mom right.

Let me introduce myself.  My name is Roman Korimara. I am from Rep of Kiribati. My stay in Taiwan is almost one year now. I am here to work for masters degree in Electric Power Engineering. My University is in the south of Taiwan which is National Sun Yatsen University. During my stay in this university what perhaps surprises me the most is mainly Taiwanese people and the way they live their daily lives.  

Firstly, someday I walked around the city and I could see many people. These people are full of activities. A few days later, I walked around the same places; I saw the same thing again. To me it seems, everyday they are full of activities. What I realised the Taiwanese people are sorely using their time wisely and moreover in turn it will surely contributes to betterment of this country as I can witness today. Unfortunately this is very good experience because it teaches me personally.

Secondly, recently I saw most of the students in this university as they are always respecting their teacher. I do really appreciate them personally because in my country we are doing the same thing as well. What surprise me the Taiwanese people are not respecting only their teacher, but they are showing consideration for everybody no matter where are you from , believe me and I always says this.

My name is Edissa Jarjue and I come from the Gambia. I came to Taiwan to pursue a Masters degree in Electrical Power Engineering and also to learn about Taiwanese culture. Beside the studies I wanted to experience living in a country that has become an example to the rest of the world and has such a different culture. At the beginning the change was not really felt since all international students were together. However, when I arrived at my university, I started to feel real Taiwanese lifestyle and food.

My first surprise came when I took the KMRT Kaoshiung city to travel round the city. I saw that the people organise queue in a orderly and very convenient manner. This makes travelling by MRT very convenient. No matter how crowded a train station is, people are always patient standing in queues. Even if you are a stranger once you come into Taiwan, it’s easy to move around because there is never any scramble for anything. I later realise that this is part of live for the people here. In any public place your happen to visit, it’s the same. That is first have, first have.

The other thing is the use of Chop- stick for eating. Before I came to Taiwan, I saw chopstick on movies. At the time little did I know that I would be using it someday by myself to eat. It’s really amazing and I got used to it now. I have a special chopstick which I carry anywhere I go. The use of chopstick also enables me to interact well with the locals who really appreciate when they see a foreigner using chopstick.

Coming to Taiwan has been the greatest experience for me. Being my first time to come this far away from my country, I have come across so many things that are more or less surprising, some of which I am glad to express. However I will like to also share my experience as to how I got most of the surprises leaving in a community, where you feel totally different from every one and how I manage to adjust to leaving in such situation.

As months past, everything became normal for me and I begin to realize how helpful Taiwanese are. At one time I went to Taipei with some people and we couldn’t find the right bus station to get back to our university. We decided to stop a Taiwanese lady and asked her to show us where to take a bus. To our surprise, this woman not only took us to the bus station but she waited until we boarded the right bus. She went further to talk to the driver where our next destination was before she could turn back.

The second time we were visiting a Gambian family in Taipei and we didn’t know where to drop. The guy we were visiting asked us to give the phone to anyone around so he could tell him where we should drop. We decided to give the phone to the driver who later informed us when we reached the station. I now feel so much courage to go out because I know I can talk to anyone to find my way back when I get lost. 

My job could be described in a broad manner as working for the people and with the people. Such a two-year job experience virtually under no supervision and together with a previous 6-7yrs experience as a student in such a field brought me to come into contact with all people with their various emotions. I was confident that any experience would not surprise me. I have been hearing it said over and over again that experience is the best teacher but I had convinced myself that there is not teacher left to teach me a new experience.

My usual routine was to wake up in the morning, do my morning chores and left for work with the remaining energy I have left. I would use up that energy caring for patients assigned to me at the emergency unit and returned home exhausted at the end of day, scraped for some food to restore the energy lost, read and reviewed the cases I saw that day, then slept if I didn’t have some of my friends to argue over affective issues. On one afternoon of these usual days I received a call that I should report to the Taiwanese embassy the following morning. I had the permission from my head of department and reported. I was then told upon arrival that my application for a masters degree and scholarship was successful and I would be leaving for Taiwan in a month time. I felt no emotion maybe because I was tired from the day’s work or maybe I didn’t know what to expect in Taiwan because I had no clue of the country or its people. Occasionally in the past over the local news Taiwan was mentioned from time to time on foreign affairs issues. I made some inquires about the country but they were not sufficient for what I may experience.