I’m not so sure this is about cultural adaptation. Of course, living in Taiwan for a long time requires a certain degree of adapting, but there are many things that NO ONE should have to ‘adapt’ to.
I originally lived in Tainan starting in '96. I first have to say that living in Taipei is a paradise compared to Tainan (although I still miss it sometimes!). What I mean by that is it is a very rare occurrence for someone to cheat me, yell out ‘big nose’ (a-do-ah) at the top of their lungs and point, people crashing their motorcycles while pointing out the foreigner to their kids, etc, etc… Of course, ‘very rare’ is also relative to Tainan.
Of course there are many differences between cultures, and most of these cannot be labeled as ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than traits in other cultures; just because one culture beleives burping in public is incredibly rude, if another culture doesn’t, it does not make that culture less ‘sophisticated’. (although I still don’t like it )
However, I believe some societal traits (I don’t want to call them cultural traits) can be labeled as ‘better’ or ‘worse’ (I realize I might get flak for this…) I beleive that people should have a -basic dignity or basic respect- for any other person they meet, just because they’re human. It doesn’t mean they have to be polite or like them, but it does means they shouldn’t literally stare at them for a half-hour while they are eating, yell out ‘big nose’ when they’re two feet in front of you, lie to your face about prices on a menu you can obviously read, yell out ‘how are you’ because they think its funny to say something to a foreigner (not friendly or polite, but funny - you can almost always tell the difference, and I do appreciate those that say ‘hello’ to be friendly), almost as many people yelling out ‘f*** your mother’ for no reason because, again, they think its funny to say something, etc… This happened literally on a daily basis (actually several times a day).
Should I adapt to this? I don’t think so. I treat everyone I meet with basic respect, and I expect others to do the same regardless of what culture you’re from. But again, I’d like to propose that this is not a cultural shortcoming, but perhaps a societal shortcoming. (this sounds right to me for some reason, even if no one else can see any difference…)
That being said, I also met some of the friendliest people (and some of my best friends) down there.