Monday, September 6, 2010

Culture Shock

Disclaimer: I can only say that these are my experiences with my host family. I can't say this is the culture of Taiwan. I haven't been here long enough to know the difference. And I've only had one family.

So maybe this is more like host family shock. In order to protect the privacy of my host family, I cannot give you too many personal details. But if you ask something, I will do my best to answer.

I have a blog. And I take that seriously. It's a responsibility to write about things that are of importance. While rotary or my host family might prefer that I didn't have a blog at all, it's not something I'm willing to give up. This blog is my communication to my family, friends, and new people I'm meeting. This blog is my scrapbook. This blog is my stress relief. This blog means a lot to me and I will not white wash the truth.

I will be wrong about things from time to time.
I will not have time to blog sometimes.
I will post entries upset from time to time, that's a part of life.
I will regret some entries. It's okay! It's not a big deal! It's like how you regret some pictures. It's still nice to have them. They still tell and story and a truth.



Wow, that was a long disclaimer.

The first problem I feel with my host family is that I arrived two days before my host sister left to Canada. So even though I feel a person's first two days in a country are very important and set the tone for the year, they pretty much focused everything on her and ignored me. Which is understandable because these were the last two days they would have with her for a year. Still, to be new in a country and not receive much comforting from your host family is very depressing. You're very unsure those first two days and to be ignored is the worst. Now, I was not completely ignored, I was fed, they talked to me, etc. I just felt like an afterthought. And I had to watch how loving everyone was with this girl while I was alone and just as sad as her.

Of course, I do not hold this against my host sister or host family, but I just wanted to say it was really hard being at my host family's house before they were truly ready for me.

The second problem is that the host mother I have is always working. My host father, I've never even met. He's always in China. I think with my host mother always working she has a very distant personality. She's not a very warm person. At times she can be nice though. This has put some strain on her relationship with me. I also think that while she is very good at speaking english, there is a strong cultural barrier that makes it difficult for her to understand me.

The third problem is rotary! I'm serious. Taiwanese Rotary and Rotary in general isn't united enough and as a result, there are problems. Not life threatening problems, but enough to make my day suck.

((as a quick note, I want to say Rotary is also part of the solution. It's a positive and a negative in itself. But the positive out weights the negative.))

Resuming: The problem with Rotary is that the rules are so old. And some people understand they cannot be taken word for word and some people really don't get it. Like my host mother was okay with me going online and on skype for about two hours a day. Not all at once and, I was online way less than her daughter. Suddenly, she talks to Taiwanese Rotary and they give her a paper that says I can't use the computer, at all. And I can't use skype, at all. I also can't call home, at all. Now, I've NEVER called home because I don't want to cost my host family money or pay for it myself. But I use skype. To say I can never talk to anyone ever, except once a week via email is down right abusive in this day and age. As long as I'm not staying up late, missing school, or never ignoring my host family, I'm golden. So my host mother walks in the room and is like, well, this isn't me, it's Rotary. I'm going to restrict your computer time. This is only one example. Update: I actually think this was more of my host mother than Rotary because she always really abhorred this blog and was trying to shut it down from the start.

I have a lot more explaining to do about this topic and a few other problems to talk about. But I don't have time to finish right now.


  1. is it that you try and talk to your host mother and she doesn't respond or that she's simply absent for too much so that you don't get a chance to talk with her?? if its the first one i'm sorry :( i bet on top of the first two days it probably sucks that your host mother is still really distant. however she's not the only person there for you to talk to :D you still have isseikun and your host sister, and possibly even that uncle person although i don't know if he's around or not. either way, if you're not getting the comfort you want from your host family, try and find it elsewhere and i'm sure you will, especially in your school.

  2. You should enjoy it instead. You get to really feel how it is to be Taiwanese: Being ignored by parents, not having to nurture close family bonds and stuff. You have the chance here to become a true Taiwanese kid. Just have to put some work into killing off some of your feelings. :3

    Okay, that was kind of sarcastic, but I'm serious. Wait for a while and you will see that instead of all those nice western social values you are comfortable with, the Taiwanese has other special ways of life that you couldn't imagine how to happily uphold at home.
    I bet you feel like everything is similar to what you are used to, just with a thick coating of something unexplainable. Am I onto something?
    Oh yeah: When I got to Taiwan I felt like almost every food there had some special taste in addition to their usual one. As if they used a special seasoning on everything they cook, but no one could understand what I meant. Do you feel anything like this?

  3. @Sander

    I am not ready to comment on your post.

    However, I'm ready to comment on your food comment. When I finish this post I will comment on the other half of your comment.

    Taiwanese food has this flavor. Every food in Taiwan has it. It's Taiwan flavor. I can't really describe it. But it's not good. And everything has a thick coating of something. I totually agree. I'm so happy you brought this up because no one has understood that before you!

  4. It'll disappear all of a sudden, so don't worry too much. It's nice to know that it isn't just me. Now I wonder what could cause that. A special kind of bacteria in the earth making plants a little alienish? Something in their water? (I don't think so because tea usually didn't have that taste for me.)

  5. @Sander
    I think it's just seasoning and types of oil they like to use. There are a few things without the taste, but I totually know what you're talking about.

  6. I totally hear you. It's rough dealing with TW rules. But, you'll find ways to get around it.

    If you all have the same uni classes we did, then go to the lab and use skype and stuff there if you can (I know, the time difference sucks).

    You could also get skype on your iphone.

  7. Oh, and I would fight the no calling home thing. You can get other internet usage at school and stuff, but not being able to call home is not fair. And I bet they're talk to their daughter a lot (cause tw parents are overbearing).

    My host fam talked to their daughter 2 hours every single day on skype. TWO HOURS. Go above them.

    (are you in RD3480 btw?)

  8. Yes,I'm in RD3480.

    Anyway, I've pretty much learned what you have to do around here. Although I can't really write about it.