Taiwan Tips for Newbians

This thread has probably been covered already and, no doubt, i’ll hear soon enough from the ‘old Segue hands’ if so.

Anyway, there must be lots of snippets of advice that the lifers here had wished that they’d heard when they first arrived and could now pass on to make the (often dreadful) first six months more bearable for the newbians.

My tip: if possible, get y’self a dehumidifier, particularly if you intend staying for a while. The damp here is killer; it gets in your clothes, your bedding, and your bones!

If you teach, a scooter might be a good mode of transport. Don’t forget the life insurance, though. :smiley:

Go to the oriented happy hours, when you tire of Poxy 99.

Learn a bit of Chinese, it makes life much easier.

I do not know of anyone who has had success with these here for the simple reason that they only work if your apartment is very well sealed from the outside. Everyone I know (including where I have lived) is full of poorly fitting windowsills, air-con slots, and balcony openings.
Also, where you live in the city makes a great deal of difference too. Sungshan district was the worst for damp that I have experienced.

The biggest suggestion for a neophyte? Even if you think you will only spend a year here, knuckle down and study Mandarin like a religion. Chances are that you will stay longer and every minute of study will pay off in the end.

If I was starting over in Taiwan, and single, I would be much nicer and more courteous to the girls I meet in all office situations. I would try to be more concerned about their welfare. I would give them money when they offered to help me buy a lunch-box and not worry if they forgot to give me the change.

Geez, Richard. You make being married really seem like a ball-and-chain.

If you ever meet the Genie of the Lamp, let me know and we’ll do it all together…

Three points:
1.Take loads of photos of everything (people, places and ‘things’.) It’s a blast to look back at stuff - even only a few years ago seems a long time ago sometimes.

I stumbled across a snap I took of Lee Tung-Hui’s presidential campaign HQ in Taichung. Can’t say why exactly but, to me, it’s priceless! Take pics of your students too. I wish I had taken more. Some of them become long-term and it’s amazing to see the changes.

  1. Show some sincere appreciation to the Chinese people (staff or friends) who help you find your way around and do things on a daily basis. So many foreigners (I was guilty of this too sometimes) take it for granted and even treat Chinese friends/colleagues as their own personal assistants, without showing any gratitude.

  2. Try not to whine ALL the time to Chinese friends/colleagues. Complain by all means, but try to make it more like a coversation, not just pure whine. Talk about other stuff too! People don’t always want to hear you moaning about everything under the sun.

Bring over your cricket bat and footy.

Always, I mean, always, always, always, observe the principals of ‘quangxi’. Trust me on this.

Make as many connections as you can with people, and don’t always use the connections you make for your own benefit to get ahead. Use them instead, to help others.
The guangxi factors work cyclically, and you will eventually be rewarded for your part in the chain, perhaps better than you expected. Taiwan is a collectivist society, as we all know, and trying to do things “on your own” here, are futile.
This idea of guangxi goes just as much for the insular foreign community in Taiwan, as with the Chinese one.

You mean guanxi, not “guangxi” or “quangxi”, right? :wink:

Who the hell knows anymore, Maoman? I’m not as
well-versed in (obsessed with) pinyinisation as you are.

never go to bakeries early in the morning. they don’t bake most of their stuff till the afternoon, anyway.

  1. Smile a lot, even if its hot and crowded and the service counter is pissing you off.
  2. Don’t let other expats tell you what to do–they’ll only be here a year, anyway. And the middle-aged ones that do stay here are paranoid you’ll pull the rug out from under them.
  3. Choose who you sleep with very carefully (you don’t want stalkers)
  4. Don’t sell yourself short salary/work condition wise.
  5. When your bushiban boss says, “I’m like your family/mom/etc., in Taiwan” what they mean is “I wanna control everything you do so I can better rip you off.”
  6. Do not let your school take your passport.
  7. Party, but don’t be taken over by easy access to alcohol and other substances.

Buy a computer, internet access and spend all your free (non sleeping time) writing rubbish like this in the confines of your tiny apartment…

Become bitter and twisted as quickly as possible so as to better fit in with your peers.

Why has no-one said anything about “face”

Tonygo asked the question

Face is for Chinese - Chinese do not believe foreigners have “face”.

Best English translation is embarassement

Chinese cannot believe that foreigners get embarassed when no-one can see them.

On the other hand - If you want you tell your chinese friend or loved one, in front of someone, that they have scrwed up - DO NOT DO IT!!!

Ssooooooooo hurt - and they will forget what the problem was. - So much lost face.

Sometimes they even pretend they cannot remember the problem when you complain to them in front of total strangers!! - even though many of them them throw the rubbish on the street because no-one that they know is watching.

Rule 1 - Foreigners have no face

Rule 2 - Chinese will forget “what is the problem” if “face” is an issue.

Rule 3 - Chinese do not like to be challenged - then think about their “face”

The bottom line is that Chinese will modify their “face” rules to get foreigners to go along with their ideas.

Maybe I hit it a bit hard - “face” is about avoid embarassement - as I can guess best.

Sure some of it is pretty formal in the Chinese family situation, and maybe some ““normal””" situations.

But Chinese do, in my experience, fail to understand that foreigners also get embarassed, or feel they have “lost face” and chinese - even loved ones, laugh in their face at the possibilty that a foreigner can think that he has lost face.

This may sound corny, but, be nice and be considerate. Sure, cultural differences will mean that sometimes you will mess up… but if you follow the “golden rule” (as given by either Confucius: do not unto others as you would not have others do unto you, or by JC: do unto others as you would have others do unto you), you will be OK in 99% of the situations that you encounter.

Remember, whatever you do here, whether you like it or not, you are a representative (unofficial ambassador, if you will) of your home country and also of all foreign nationals.

Don’t act like an ass just because you are drunk. It reflects poorly on yourself, and more importantly, also on the rest of us.

Hi tigerman - always where I start - except being drunk