Taiwan :

Culture


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People in Taiwan

Taiwan is a country of diverse cultures stemming from their colonization by European and ultimately descendents from China. When teaching in Taiwan, one will notice touches of many cultures in their everyday lives. While the closest similarities will be had with China, one can still see some traces of Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish cultures. 

 

One will see on the surface a very westernized culture of convenience and modern technology. Convenience stores abound in what must be one of the highest saturation rates in the world. Banks, services, and even postage can all be handled by most convenience stores given their availability. Many Taiwanese also cling to a basic style, trying to differentiate themselves as a distinct culture separate from the rest of Asia. 

 

Technology, much like in Japan, reigns supreme in Taiwan, with mobile phone use by nearly 100% of the population. People are avid video gamers and PC rooms dominate Taiwan much like in Korea, Japan, and the rest of Asia. 

 

People in Taiwan take great pride in their sovereignty, but also express great hope for cross channel relations. You should keep this balance in mind when discussing politics with friends and coworkers who are Taiwanese. A strongly worded opinion can cause offense in the wrong context. 

 

People are also traditional and hold on to their ancient cultural customs and rites. These originate both from their own unique individuality and from their shared relationship with China. Guanxi, is a state of friendship in Taiwan where people actively work together to achieve a goal. By helping out one another you avoid a feeling of being taken advantage of. This is important to consider in all your relationships in Taiwan, as things get done a lot more efficiently with the right balance of give and take. 

 

Like China, losing one’s temper sets the stage for losing face which could damage your teaching and your job in Taiwan. It is best to be reasonable and work carefully to resolve differences so that everyone is satisfied with the outcome. 

 

Gift giving is a very important concept in Taiwan. The rule of thumb when receiving a gift is to reject it a couple of times and then accept it with great appreciation. The same applies with complements. They may say you speak excellent Chinese to make you feel more comfortable and while you know this may not be true, you should eventually accept their complement with great gratitude. 

 

When giving a gift be expected to have it rejected at first. It does not mean they don’t want to accept it, just that you should offer it a couple more times, until they accept it. Remembering these few tips will go a long way in developing excellent relationships in Taiwan. 

 

Devoting yourself during your teaching hours will gain you the respect of your colleagues as they often are paid much less then you. They may feel that you don’t deserve the high salary, just for being a foreigner, but working hard and being gracious with them will earn you their gratitude and friendship.
 



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