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3. My Culture Shock

Culture shock is an interesting phenomenon that doesn’t affect everybody in the same way. Some just can’t understand it when the locals don’t speak English. Some can’t comprehend why things done this way, and not that way? Why am I even in this situation? It would never happen in my home country. Questions like these can cause people to get stressed out and want to go back to their own countries. People can get frustrated when faced with change, but we need to see this change as a great opportunity for learn and growth personally.

The conversation usually begins with the same question: how is Taiwan? And the answer is the same too: very different!!! I’ve been here for more than one year and I still remember my first day in Taiwan. I lost my flight in Los Angeles and here nobody was waiting for me at the airport, was hard to get a taxi using only the body language… It’s hard when you don’t speak the language and face a new culture.

Since I got here, the first thing I was worried about was not making any friends, mainly because of the language difference, and with the different traditions from both the Taiwanese and my culture.

I am studying fish nutrition. I like food very much. Everything I think, is about food. So my shock when I arrived in this country was of course, concerning food.

Have you ever had someone tell you to take a task which will take you the whole year to finish? Even if the task would benefit you in the end, it takes an arm and a leg to fulfill. Well that scenario I was in within a few hours after setting foot on this soil of Taiwan. It happened like this;
It was lunch time and savory rice was in a bowl with sea food on the side. An array of tidbits of vegetables was complimenting the whole demonstration. It was a mouthwatering luncheon which was waiting to be devoured. It was a matter of having clean hands and making away with this rice and everything. Now I come to the point. There were no spoons around, no fork and knife, and worse still, no water to make my hands clean. A lone pair of bamboo sticks gaped at me, in their stead.

I started thinking of continuing my studies abroad before finishing my marine biology bachelor course in Cost Rica Indeed, no aquaculture degrees are offered in my country. Thus, I started looking for a scholarship and I went to the International Cooperation and Development Fund (I.C.D.F). I applied for the scholarship funding and after two long months of waiting I received the good news. The Idea of going to Taiwan was exciting not only because I was going to continue my studies in a country where aquaculture is very developed; but also because I was always interested in knowing Chinese culture and history.

When I got out from the airport I couldn’t believe that I was here, on the other side of the world, I was feeling like when I was a child going for the first time to Disney world. Everything here is very colorful and cheerful. They put happy pictures on everything for example my bank atm card has a little turtle.


I found Taiwanese night markets very exotic. There you can find everything; m

Have you ever been terrified of going to the dentist? Well, up until now I have never been afraid of going to the dentist. It has always been routine – every six months or so just to get a check up, fill a cavity or do a cleaning…

Recently, however, I decided I wanted to change some of the tooth fillings I have from the silver to the ivory (tooth-color) filling. A friend suggested her dentist so I went with her. I did not even need the make an appointment – right away I was called in and after I explained what I wanted the dentist told me he can change two fillings per appointment and he can start now.


My interest in Entomology and Parasitology began with my pursuit of an MSc in Biology and Control of Disease Vectors at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in England. The ideal opportunity to combine both disciplines in an active prevention of vector-borne diseases in public health settings said it all while I worked for the National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme in the Ministry of Health and Medical Services in the Solomon Islands where I worked as the Chief Entomologist. I always had the desire to learn more about vectors and vector-borne diseases and knew that the best place to gain such knowledge would be at this school. The offer of the Taiwan ICDF scholarship made is a dream comes true. (I salute Taiwan ICDF for the offer). The high caliber of staff and the extent to which they assist students is remarkable.

When I arrived in Taiwan, I was so shocked to see so many people and so any buildings. The food is yet another story. At the beginning I lost four kilograms because I was worried that I would not be able to adjust. I was perplexed and asked myself how I was going to achieve my goal if there were so many differences in culture. The students at the dormitory would look at me and not talk at all. This was hard because I am a very friendly and easy going person. After a couple of weeks, I realized that they were just totally shy. This was truly amazing.

Hello my name is Selin Flores, I’m 27 years old and I study at NCCU in Taipei thanks to ICDF scholarship program. First of all I was amazed by the organization of ICDF’s people to give us two weeks of cultural training and Chinese learning. I think this really helped us to get used to Taiwanese people, how they think and their culture.

Things usually turn out different from what you expect or perceive. The same happened to me. Back in Fiji while packing my bag I kept on thinking how will it be – whether it will be clean and beautiful or will it be an overpopulated and polluted place. Although this had not been my first experience to travel overseas but I knew that I will have to stay here at least for the next two years. My research and my gut feeling always said that Taiwan will be a great place. However, I kept on asking people who had previously visited Taiwan. Two of them who visited Taipei about ten to fifteen years ago said that it is good but bit dirty and polluted – that was ambiguous. However, one of my friends who just visited Taipei about a year ago said that it’s a great place with great opportunities. Actually this was what I wanted to hear. But then I kept on thinking about the food, as being a Hindu I am very conservative and choosy in what I eat.