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3rd issue by NTOU on December 2006

The very first sensations when I arrived here were the feelings of not knowing what to do or how to do things in a new environment, and not knowing what is appropriate or inappropriate because the way that I lived before is quite different with the life style in Taiwan.

I have many experiences in Taiwan talking about culture shock, but I will share one. Taiwanese are very curious about foreign people and also very conservative.

In less than two days, I had left my home country in what can only be called an adventure towards my future. Everything around me had changed, whether I was truly ready for it or not. Even when I thought I had begun to believe I was getting used to Taiwan back in Taipei, I again experienced a great change upon reaching my university. Needless to say, it caused a bit of a shock.

We can describe culture shock as the physical and emotional discomfort one suffers when coming to live in another country or a place different from the place of origin. Often, the way that we lived before is not ccepted as or considered as normal in the new place. Everything is different, for example, not speaking the language, not knowing how to use banking machines, not knowing how to use the telephone and so forth.

As a new foreigner in Taiwan, experience the cultural shock in my on flesh, it has been very interesting, also a whole of different feelings together ; some of them are very nice ( the feeling of meeting new people, places; learning a different culture, etc) but some of them are not good ( loneliness, homesick, etc.).

I will share some of the fantastic experiences I have lived as a student here at Taiwan. The real reason for me to study here was to learn from people that have a different life style and culture from mine.

My Name is Miguel Conrado Valdez and I am from Honduras. I came to Taiwan in order to achieve my Master degree in Environmental Sustainable Development, and as many students which to learn more about Taiwanese culture and enjoy besides the studies the experience of living in a country that has become an example to the world and has such a different culture. At the beginning the change wasn’t totally felt since we were sharing mostly with foreign students, but at the moment we arrived at our Universities than the change was complete, normal Taiwanese life style and food, although its different, I can say that this change is fully good, at the beginning the food becomes in a cultural shock, but is now something that you start to enjoy and really appreciate.

Humans are naturally competitive beings. If we weren't, we wouldn't still be around on this planet. In our world today the competitive edge goes to the technological prowess and passion of a country to its future development in this movement towards globalization. I have credited Taiwan with this edge. Their economic growth by fostering their one strength, their human resource, is unquestionably remarkable. My admiration for this nation could not be explained in words.

Being from a country of 85% Muslims and a Muslim myself has been the greatest challenge to my stay in Taiwan. A day before I was schedule to fly to Taiwan, My mum sat me down and advised me not to eat any food that may be against my moral teachings in Taiwan. She jokingly said “Do not eat FROG” unless it is a matter of life and death. I laughed it off.

With Christmas right around the corner, culture shock and homesickness are very much likely to set in. For those who understand Christmas, it is obvious why homesickness will spread through the foreigners like a rampant disease; however, for those who don’t understand this is where the culture shock sets in. Last year, I remember showing up to class on December 26th, and my professor asked if we had partied all weekend for Christmas. I was immediately upset from the pain his words caused and forced myself to remain composed, “It isn’t his fault, that he doesn’t understand.” While many places in Taiwan will cover themselves in Christmas decorations and you’re quite likely to see many Christmas trees, this event is often perceived as a time when foreigners party and exchange gifts, an opportunity for commercialism. Those of us who know Christmas know that it is a time for family and not just a mere day but a season, far more similar to Chinese New Year than the picture of a jolly old white man in red may suggest.