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42. The most touching experience of Taiwanese hospitality

During my almost four years here in Taiwan, I’ve had many experiences some good and some bad. However, there are some persons I’ve met here in Taiwan which has really touched my heart and I could never forget them.

My first experience of Taiwanese hospitality occurred when I was on Internship in Tainan. Having to live in a rural area which was totally unfamiliar to me was a bit overwhelming at first. However, that feeling did not last very long. Almost immediately, the employees of the company took my under their wing. They made sure my living quarters were as comfortable as possible, as well as ensuring I always had enough food at my disposal despite the fact that we ate lunch and dinner together almost every day. During my two month tenure, I was taken in by one family in particular. I was really touched by their hospitality as they would refer to me as their daughter. My new pseudo family would take me out every weekend. Because of them, I visited many new and interesting places I probably would have never seen had it not been for them. My most memorable trip was to Alishan Park in Chiayi. I’d always wanted to visit there, even before arriving in Taiwan, I’d heard so much about it. We spent an entire day hiking various trails, checking out the souvenir shops, visiting the old train tracks and museum. It was a memorable day.  Even more touching is the fact that we still keep in touch, and whenever possible, they visit me in all the way in Pingtung. I could never forget them.  I feel warm inside having experienced such warmth and kindness from people who at one point were complete strangers.

The Taiwanese people can be some of the most hospitable people that you may ever meet. It is often said that you cannot have a full Taiwan experience without experiencing Taiwanese hospitality.  From a simple smile, to inviting you for dinner at their house, Taiwanese hospitality definitely forms part of the rich culture of the Taiwanese people. My most touching experience of Taiwanese hospitality has to deal with my first Chinese New Year celebration with my Taiwanese family.

Chinese New Year is the time of the year, as the name implies, whereby families come together to celebrate the ending of an old year and the beginning of a new one. It is generally celebrated in many Asian countries and occurs somewhere at the end of January, following the lunar calendar. Chinese New year can be described as Christmas for a Westerner. However instead of Christmas trees and lights for decorations, streets, stores and houses are embellished with different kinds of red colored decorations. Instead of exchanging gifts, red envelopes are given. However the concept of the family coming together remains the same in both celebrations.

My name is Adriana Flores, I am 24 years old. I came to Taiwan 4 years ago from El Salvador. I am currently doing my 3 year of Undergraduate at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology in Pingtung. The first thing when I first arrived in Taiwan was that I never expected that I would be able to get use to the culture and been away from home, but now I can say that I got touched with all the experiences I have ever had in another country such as this lovely and safe small island. Taiwan touched me by experiencing different situations during this past few years, for example there are a lot of people that have been so thoughtful and always disposed to help me in hard situations. I fell that since the beginning Taiwan made me feel welcomed despite I was missing home and my family.

In my first year I remember I wanted to experiences something new about Taiwanese cultures, so some of the activities that the Language Center were offering was to spend one weekend with a Taiwanese family, just join the “Host Family Program”. So I said why I should lose this opportunity, and I applied; but during this process I was afraid that maybe I will be join and spending time with Taiwanese family, in their home and I won’t be able to speak Chinese, because at that time my Chinese was not good enough; but this didn’t stop me to keep applying for the activity.

Travel always gives me special memories, and when I have to talk about Taiwan there are lot of places that always give me big smile. It is a story in the winter vacation 2015. I’m and some of my friends, Putri, Destri, Quin, Aan and Ilham was visited He Huan Shan. It is just accidentally planning, we decided to go at 7.00 pm and we go at 11 pm from NPUST. We took a scoter to Pingtung and then Ubus to Taichung. Without knowing anything, we arrived in Taitung around 3 am.

You can imagine, it was dark, quite, and just us in the station. We even don’t have any idea or fix information what kind of transportation we should take to go to He Huan Shan. We just go around station, and use internet in our phone to search the informations, because nobody we can ask about it at that time. We moved from one convenience store to another one, from 7-11 to H-Live, because it will be to shame for staying long time in one place. hahaha.

Moving to a foreign land can sure have its challenges, a different culture, people, food and not forgetting language. All of which without a doubt can be frustrating for someone.

I certainly can say that during my stay in Taiwan I have met some of the most humane and hospitable individuals. Let me give you a scenario that justifies my statements made previously.

Leaving in the country side of Taiwan can be a hassle especially if one does not have a scooter to make them mobile, which is the reason I frequently use the school bus. One weekend I went shopping at Carrefour in Pingtung City, just to get some household items. After completing my shopping made my way outside the supermarket to catch the school bus which operates on a forty minute basis, that day unfortunately the bus was delayed which resulted in me waiting outside Carrefour in the sweltering heat for about an hour and a half, and as result I became dehydrated and thirsty as in patch dried thirsty however I refused to re-enter the store to get water due to the fact that I did not want to miss the school bus.

During the Chinese New Year, most people on campus had gone to their homes to enjoy the festivities and most shops were closed, so the atmosphere inside school was very boring. Since me and most of country mates did not go back to Swaziland during the winter vacation; an elderly farmer from Long qien that one of my country mates got acquainted with invited us to come and join him and his family in celebrating Xin Nien Kuai Le. So we went to his home around 2pm on the first day of the Chinese new year holidays, and we were served with lots food, snacks, candy, and some tea which he claimed is from the Taiwan mountains.

There were some traditional Chinese performances including the dragon dance, and we participated in burning fireworks and burning some papers which they say represents money. There were many people there and most of them were excited to have foreigners in their midst, they asked to take pictures with us and we were happy to do so. Later on that evening, there was a huge feast; there was a hot pot, plenty of meat, plenty of fruit, dumplings, candy, cake, tea, some wine for those who wanted it. I really indulged in the food, I ate until my stomach was sore. After eating we sat outside in a big circle and we were telling stories and laughing, we really had a good time.

I have studied in Taiwan since September last year. This is a short time for some other students, but for me, the period of ten months and living and studying situations that I have experienced in National Pingtung University of Science and Technology (NPUST) are sufficient enough to understand and love this country because of its heat hospitality, rich tradition and exceptional landscapes.

Hospitality is one of well-known features of Taiwanese that I have known before I came Taiwan. However, Taiwanese hospitality I experienced actually surpassed what I expected. As you might image that difficulties that new foreign students suffered in the first time when they entered to other countries with different cultures, tastes and especially a language that they knew nothing before. Yes, it is extremely challenging! :((… I believe that I would not adapt to the new studying environment myself without friendly and kind Taiwanese help which warmed my heart and gave me motivation to overcome these challenges.  Actually, for someone, my stories about hospitality of Taiwanese I have experienced is quite simple but for me, to be honest, I really appreciate those. Moreover, it is difficult for me to say which one is the most touching experience, but in general, those have partly changed my mind about this country with not only beautiful views and developed industry, but also diverse customs and warmed hospitality.

Choosing to study four years in Taiwan was the most challenging decision I had ever made in my life. Experiencing new culture is absolutely not a joke. I was looking forward to coping with the new culture and meeting different people with different backgrounds. I was really excited about exploring these, as it had always been my dream to study abroad.

I was excited about studying in a foreign campus and looking forward to make new friends as I was away from my old friends back in Swaziland. Friends are the most important relationship you can ever have in a foreign land.

From the moment I landed in Taiwan I heard nothing the language was intimidating. I had no idea on how to communicate and get along with the locals. Country mates in campus were the best option to stay for the first few days of my arrival.

Hospitality here in Taiwan is heart-touching. For the first time that I been here for four years ago; I took a chance to internship at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology in Pingtung, Taiwan. It was one of the most amazing and memorable experience of my life. A good relationship between me and Taiwanese friends is the thing that I never forget. That why I choose Taiwan to continue my master degree.

Taiwan was amazing in so many ways but one thing that took me by surprise was the people there. I had no clue whatever about how the people were going to be but when I finally met them, I fell in love with them instantly. They were all as welcoming and hospitable as Thai people. Every person that I met was so friendly. Actually I can speak a little bit Chinese. I really proud when they try to understand my poor Chinese. Besides study I really travel around Taiwan, learn Taiwanese culture. When tourists are looking for a beautiful place to travel, I believe that Taiwan is one of the sites that have to bear in mind. I am surrounded by smiles since the Taiwanese are always tried to help me. 

These are words of appreciation for my second home my second country. Taiwan is the beautiful island where I have lived for almost four years. When I came I was naïve of many things regarding local culture, traditions or even eating habits. However, with patience of friends and stepfamily I have learned many things and enjoy the time here. I have collected beautiful memories, and today I would like to introduce what I called the Taiwanese trademark “people kindness”. More specifically I would like to talk about the gifts that Taiwanese give all the time at any place and sometimes without a reason.

Taiwanese are themselves very kind with foreigners, but I the action of giving a small gift to people is not only for those like me that had made this island their home. One of the things that draw my attention when I arrived to this country was the very cool gesture of giving small gift out of nowhere. They may give you a present for many reasons, for example because they just met you, because you are a newbie around the area or simply just because. I believe that is awesome! I learned to gives small gifts to show friendliness to people. I personally like to share fruits with others now.