How do you long timers deal with living here?

I’m a foreigner from Europe. I’ve been living here over a year but am getting more tense not less. The problem is this.

I have not been able to deal with people invading my privacy constantly. The more Chinese I learn the more I can hear the people around me rudely talking about me as if I can’t understand them.
It’s become clear to me that a significant portion of the population are really ignorant people.

Why do parents and grandparents (they are the worst, they have NO clue-basically farmer types)
encourage their children to shout things like Meigouren all the time at foreigners. Sorry but the world is not America. They constantly interfere. If I’m eating I can look up and see couples staring at me, or people shouting hello and telling their kids to say it to me when I’m obviously doing something private.

Why do people on scooters always shout rubbish like ‘Nice to meet you’ at me and then drive rapidly away. If they were really being friendly they’d say it to my face (I’m gonna rip one of those guys off their scooter one day and drive over him with it, see how nice it’ll be to meet me then).

Why don’t they talk to my face. When I am with my girlfriend I know they always comment but not to my face. It’s the ultimate disrespect. It’s not just me that finds it difficult. She says when she’s with me she can really understand what it’s like to be a foreigner here. They treat her different but they judge her very quickly too, a lot of it is jealousy I reckon.

Why does everybody try and listen to every word I say if I am on my mobile on the bus. I’ve had instances where they’ve tried to repeat my end of the conversation word for word while I’m speaking.

All this comes with a backdrop.I’ve been working with Taiwanese almost exclusively for almost a year. I know what it’s like to work and interact with them. I would say that working here is quite a pleasant environment except for the long hours and different cultural ideas about loyalty to the company more than anything else etc. My boss is the coolest boss ever. But I wish that for one day all Taiwanese were transplanted to some exclusively backward black or causcasian country for a day, they would learn their lesson quick.

I’ve got to say there’s not too many places in the world that have such a lack of polite social skills as this country (I don’t care about the usual hackneyed-they are so friendly compared to other Asians, let me guess you’re white and you have more money than them- you are their American dream dummy, or China is much worse blah blah).

Well you know what I’m sick of being half a country’s American dream when I’m not even American.

My neighbours in my old place took about six months for one of them to say hello, six months! Actually maybe this some of this is Taipei big city stuff but not all.

So next time I hear Taiwanese are the friendliest
people going I’ll try and adsorb your exact reasons for saying this cos this is not a life if I’m getting superworked everytime I walk down the street. I’m guessing your home countries aren’t too hot themselves for you to think this or you got some other special reasons for saying these things. I guess in the end you change or you leave so that’s maybe where I’m at. Although I’m leaving next year anyway.

After all this I’m feeling much better. It’s better than punching one of their lights out anyway (what good would that do, just another crazy weigouren flipping out for no reason)

Sorry you’re having such a hard time. The things you mentioned don’t really bother me at all. They’re just a result of different cultural and social mores.

The people doing it don’t consider themselves to be acting rudely because according to Taiwan culture, they are not. By contrast, when you, the foreigner, make a fuss about it in public, you are acting very rudely indeed.

Anyway, come on, you aint’ kidding me – are you seriously trying to tell us that you don’t just love living in a place where you can pick your nose anywhere you like and where no one bats an eye when you pull up to the lights on your scooter and proceed to use your wing mirror to squeeze those big, yellow, pustulated zits on your nose?

Funny about what feelings we project onto other people.

Did you ever consider that your neighbors might feel intimidated by a foreigner? I have yet to have a Taiwanese neighbor who wasn’t friendly and open. I get nods from people I see regularly. I smile at them all the time.

quote[quote] Why do people on scooters always shout rubbish like 'Nice to meet you' at me and then drive rapidly away. If they were really being friendly they'd say it to my face (I'm gonna rip one of those guys off their scooter one day and drive over him with it, see how nice it'll be to meet me then). [/quote]

Can you tell me why you’re angry that they’re doing this? What insult are you reading in this situation? Why is it that so many other foreigners can just say “Nice to meet you, too” and be none the worse for it?

When kids on scooters say hello to me or say “I love you!” and then take off I just smile or laugh. Even after three years. I don’t project emotions onto them that they’re rude, angry, or perceiving me as so strange.

quote[quote] I'm guessing your home countries aren't too hot themselves for you to think this or you got some other special reasons for saying these things. [/quote]

Speaking personally–my home country has both friendly and unfriendly people. When I’m here I assume that the people are nice and treat them with that thought in mind. You might want to try it. It might relieve a lot of stress.

Nice post, Britai. You said it much better than I did, even though you neglected to mention the zit-squeezers.

BTW, Joker, what’s with the derogatory swipe at farmers? My pa-in-law is the hickest of hick farmers and even though I only have your post to evaluate you on, I’m confident that he’s forgotten more about politeness and good manners than you ever learned (even though he does blow his nose with his fingers on occasion).

Um… not to be rude, but since I am Taiwanese, I’m gonna take this kinda personally… Basically, if you don’t like it here, leave. This is “their” country, not YOURS. They have their own habits and customs that obviously does not conform to yours. Since this is their home turf, they can pretty much do what they like… You do not have to be here…

To be honest, they really don’t know what they are doing is wrong. Next time, try, politely, to ask someone you know about their reasons for doing something that bothers you, because they don’t know it bothers you. Perhaps if you see their reasoning, you’ll come to understand that what they are doing is just plain and simply trying to be friendly to you, as opposed to any negative things you are projecting onto them unfairly.

I’m pretty sure that whatever country you are from, it didn’t have many Asians. If it did, then you’d understand. Asians as a culture are polite, nice people, because of how deeply embedded Confusism is within the culture.

Originally posted by BaKaBaKa: Asians as a culture are polite, nice people, because of how deeply embedded Confusism is within the culture.

Yeah. And Timothy McVeigh was such a great guy because of his Christian upbringing.

I think the majority of foreigners feel the way jokepack does when they first get here. If you weren’t like that, you’re lucky. I just got used to it through sheer desensitization. Before I used to wonder how people in wheelchairs dealt with people staring at them- now I think that they are like me- they just got used to it. Some Chinese are real jerks and some are just ignorant of the affect of their staring/pointing/etc. Since it’s impossible to tell the jerks from the ignorant from brief encounters, it’s better to just let it all roll off you like water off a duck’s back. This principle applies to any country, although more so to one in which you are a foreigner.

Some people feel this way about Taiwan a lot of the time. But I think that the easiest way around it is not to think too much about what they say or do.

They are Taiwanese, you are probably British or Irish so what you think is acceptable and what is rude is different too what they think is. They are more curious about you than anything. Maybe they don

one has to wonder why you decided to live in taiwan in the first place. if you are uncomfortable standing out because of your ethnicity, then going to asia was a terrible idea.

being that i’m asian, i get stared at in non-asian countries. “my, you speak english well” is something that all asian americans encounter at some time or another. meanwhile, people in most non-tourist-infested areas of europe are just so surprised to see an asian(like the waitress at the dingy little slovak diner when our lost tour bus had to make a pit stop) they have no idea what to make of me. yet somehow i don’t end up labeling all slovaks(or poles or belgians, etc) as ignorant clueless morons.

so stop the “we europeans are so much more understanding and open-minded than those crass asians” nonsense. asians are racist. europeans are racist. shrug

i feel bad for the taiwanese people who do try to approach you. some kid out there probably thinks that all westerners are complete assholes because they got an angry stare when they tried to say “hi” to you.

loosen up. next time someone says “mei guo ren” to you, shout back “tai wan ren” and smile.

Looking at my post now I realise it could do with a little editing for its rant quality. That’s the nature of these almost instantaneous communications I suppose.
I appreciate all your comments and always try to maintain an open mind, maybe I can do meditation and chill a bit (now if the dogs and cats next door would stop yapping for a minute that’d be a big help).
Some people said why don’t I leave if I don’t like it.

I didn’t mention that I’ve known so many nice genuine Taiwanese people since I’ve been here and my various working places here have been good for my career and personal development. Taiwan has been good to me too ( ya work hard for it that’s for sure).
The girls I met have been so special too.

I’ve lived in many places before and travelled to some other places in Asia briefly. It sure is a unique place and one that embodies the feeling of love/hate so well. I know when I leave here I’ll be so bored at first(maybe always, where else is life so frenetic).

So I’m a private person living in the very public arena of Taiwan and not dealing with it so well. It doesn’t mean I should leave if I’ve got a problem right off does it. I’ve already been here longer than most foreigners I meet…so maybe even though I’m ranting I put in more of a ‘commitment’-for want of a better word- than most.

I didn’t mention any racist or ethnic stuff, just mentioned it to give you some background to peoples comments before etc.

Whilst I don’t agree with everything the original poster said, I do think he was justified in complaining about the ‘trained monkey’ complex and it is unfair to criticise him or suggest he leave Taiwan for that.

The trained monkey complex is where a large segment of society here treat foreigners with allt he curiosity they would a trained monkey. They look and point and either laugh or are totally amazed when it speaks Chinese. It’s just stupid and ignorant behaviour, and should not be excused by saying “Taiwanese culture is different from western culture”. That’s a sorry excuse.

Where I come from there are about as many non-whites as there are foreigners in Taipei and absolutely noone points, calls out “Japanese Japanese” or laughs when they speak English.

As for the ‘if you don’t like it go home’ reply, that’s pile of shite.


quote[quote] next time someone says "mei guo ren" to you, shout back "tai wan ren" and smile. [/quote]

I’m European and prefer to shout “Ri ben ren” in response.

makes me chuckle anyway.

I think some members of the foreign community could benefit from some psychological conseling. I suppose this forum is a sort of group therapy.

Anyone care to psychoanalyze some of the situations mentioned above?

Depending on my mood at that time or who I am with the situations mentioned above and other ones familiar to most foreigners in Taiwan also affect me. My reactions vary again depending on my mood. Usually I take it stride, or I am becoming numb. FYI, I have also lived in Hong Kong, the UK and Thailand. I am from the USA originally.

Bri has the correct take…and a courageous take.

The self-serving ‘modern’ idea that everything is relative (everything is therefore okay) has lead us to excuse a lot of poor behavior. We should be honest about poor behavior in ourselves, in our own cultures, and in other cultures. We all have the right to make observations and offer opinions on what we believe are good or bad points of any culture. And we should listen carefully to what people say about our own culture – good and bad alike.

My best friend is Taiwanese, and I somehow get along very well with Chinese people (especially Mainlanders), but I think the culture is at the end of a thousand year decline and is in large measure a cesspool beneath the surface. The way Chinese people treat one another is plainly aweful: lying, cheating, gloating at others’ harm. Friends cutting down friends in secret is an extremely common activity. So of course much less do they think of outsiders, regardless of their external pleasantries. One prominent Taiwanese scholar calls Chinese society a stagnant pond. Cultures and civilizations rise and fall. Some cultures are currently in a nice state and will later be in a terrible state. And vice versa. All cultures are not currently equal.

I get along fine living in Taiwan, but I daily have a distaste for the behavior of Chinese (Taiwanese). And I hope I never lose this distaste, for things that are the opposite of excellence deserve feelings of distaste. (I can already hear the false-scholar proclaim, "But that is according to YOUR definition of excellence.) Anyway, I love the people here but am not impressed by their behavior at all.

As for the ‘rant’ of this topic’s eliciter…that is no problem. It is psychobabble nonsense to just say “chill out” or “take it easy”. This is intolerance disguised as tolerance. We should let people have their say. And we are all deserving of a rant now and then about all kinds of things in the world. When I was an ESL teacher in the States, I encouraged students to bring their cultural complaints to me. One, they felt better to vent. Two, they felt respected that I, an American, listening openly and uncritically to their criticisms and even attacks. Three, I could correct fact-based misunderstandings. Four, I could agree on criticisms that I agreed with. As for those areas where I disagreed with the students, I let them have their point of view without comment usually.

Most of the responses in this topic have tilted toward the intolerant, frankly – though most nicely dressed up as ‘positive’.

Let’s hear more ranting and then some sincerely helpful comments and advice.

Who’s next?

the problem is that in voicing criticism about some percieved behavioural patterns, you are applying BROAD generalizations and stereotypes:

"The way Chinese people treat one another is plainly aweful: lying, cheating, gloating at others’ harm. "

to me that’s just as ignorant and stupid as europeans who like to throw out generic anti-american “americans are all fat oafs who are only concerned about material possessions.”

no, not all chinese people lie. not all of them cheat or engage in schadenfreude.

it seems that in order to vent about taiwanese cultural habits, you’re reduced to generalizations which border on plain ignorance.

Interesting thoughts about the decline of Chinese culture, and the whole “cesspool” thing … I’m not sure I agree with it 100%, but for an interesting read, check out Bo Yang’s “The Ugly Chinaman.” You can find the English version at “Eslite”, but the Chinese version is better, IMO.

What Flipper said is what I expected someone to write: just a parroting of psychobabble begun in ivory towers in the 1070s. The common lack of logic in the response deserves a response, because so many people have bought into some common false definitions (usually in order to appear more ‘moral’ than others.)

Yes, I generalized. All people generalize. This is how the human mind works. We form generalizations and investigate them. This is deductive reasoning. And we form generalizations through inductive reasoning. Human beings are not all-knowing, so we think by means of generalizations. A generaliation DOES NOT mean “all”. Talking of “all” is a law, an inviolable rule, not a generalization. There is nothing wrong with generalizing. Making a general statement is saying something that is generally true. That’s it! It is impossible for human beings to NOT generalize.

It is simply goofy thinking that generalizing is wrong – the kind of thinking found in faculty lounges in the Western world.

Americans like sports. Is this true? Sure. Is it a generalization? Yes. Is it helpful to talk about people in generalizations, since we are not all-knowing? Yes. Does every American like sports? No. Does the generalization imply that EVERY American likes sports? No.

According to false-intellectal thought, I made a moral error, or am at least simply ignorant, by the very act of stating a generalization.

The three key words of those who parrot psychobabble they heard from a professor or read in a book or magazine and really are not thinking on their own: “You are IGNORANT,” “You are intolerant,” “You are generalising.” By the way, these are words used to shut down debate and independent thinking. If you don’t have a logical argument, just make a lot of noise.

I stand by my observations made in my earlier posting and would be interested to read some sincere, independent thought about this topic. I am happy to read criticism or desenting opinion by those who are intellectually honest. Maybe Wolf or someone of his ilk (not a negative word) has a comment…

Oops! Sorry…I forgot to mention the word ‘stereotype’. To stereotype is, in fact, a negative thing. (Unlike generalising) To stereotype means to hold a negative view of a group of people DESPITE evidence to the contrary.

From what I wrote in my original posting, it would be impossible for some to say I am stereotyping. For someone to say that, they would have to know that I have evidence that contradicts my viewpoint and that I am ignoring it, instead choosing to hold an illogical negative view of a group. So to label my comments as stereotyping displays ignorance of the word or just an attempt to shut someone up who expresses an opinion someone disagrees with.

When we talk about cultural matters, it is very important to have these kinds of words clearly defined and used properly, words such as ‘generalization’ and ‘stereotype.’ Maybe the forum moderator can provide some suggested guidelines and encourage people to allow diverse points of view. The ill-intentioned like to use such words to beat others over the head with. We should all watch out for this kind of behavior.

I stand by my comments on Chinese culture and am open to hearing comments that can help me (and others) understand Taiwan better. Reading comments by honest, open, and experienced people like Wolf is really helpful.

I swear I didn’t write that last bit myself

Until I get another banana, I am in 100 percent agreement with Bri in his post above.
OOH, OOH, OOH!!! (Does it have a tail?)

"The way Chinese people treat one another is plainly aweful: lying, cheating, gloating at others’ harm. "

please. the above line is just plain ignorant. no matter how much you justify it, it is stupid. never took any psychology classes so i don’t know what kind of psychobabble you’re refering to. you can throw out all those neat terms you learned in some psych book, but you can’t explain away your remark.

as for your definition of stereotyping, let’s play with that. your statement stereotypes chinese people unless you’re trying to say that all the chinese people you’ve ever met were liars or cheaters. is that what you’re trying to say?