I have already written about the cultural shocks I have lived in Taiwan. Those ones are not Taiwanese unique, and they can be noticed in some other countries too.
Here you have a list of “Taiwanese habits”:
- Walking your dog out
Until here nothing unusual, everybody gets out for a walk with their dogs. Anyhow, in Taiwan people “walk” their dogs in baby carriage or the shopping ones. I strongly believe Taiwan will be the first country when in some years the dogs will not know how to walk anymore…
- Keep it black
Between the work dress code that everybody follows without realizing (white/ blue/ black) and same haircuts or way of talking at work, Taiwan managed to shock me with a statement I heard lately. It looks like if you want to have a serious job in Taiwan, and by saying this I mean anything “that does not include a café restaurant, bar..”(their way of interpreting serious job), you have to keep your hair natural. I was watching the other days a picture of a Taiwanese colleague from some years ago when she was blond. I strongly advised her to get back to it. Then she explained me that she can risk her job for it. They act all as a one person, community following the same rules so she can’t choose a different direction…
- Throwing up easily
The fact that there is a concept of “allergy to alcohol” to Asian people, is not a secret. Excepting their local habits (burping, farting…) I have recently been surrounded by people throwing up just out of nowhere. Happened in a plane, buss, while walking, train… Once they are a little bit sick, they will do it. I remember how hard was for me to eliminate when I was little or how people were considering I was dyeing if I would arrive to such a point. Here, people just go for it!
- The talkative bus driver
Taiwanese people are very contrasting ones. At work they will not say a word. Eat with them and put them too many questions and you will get them tired. With all this, give them a product and tell them to present it or to sell it and they will not stop talking. What is hilarious is the buss driver situation. The driver in Taipei has a micro to be heard outside or inside, depending on the emergency. Well, very often they get bored while driving so they will not stop talking in the microphone their life, what they see on the street, put question… You can name the topic! They will be happy to share their thoughts on that too!
- Please fasten your seatbelt!
Lot of rules are to follow when you take public transportation in Taipei: when you should check your card (while getting up or down..), not eating chewingum, food or drink as you will pay a huge fine and the most important one, to fast your seatbelt while seated. Every chair from the public buss has one and some busses mention a fine also if this is not respected. I was not sure why there were so serious about it, but once you saw how they drive, I fast it automatically!
- No sweating person
An island with people dedicated to sport, ready to spend all their money on some sport that can represent their hobby, continuous in their training and always interested to learn new things. This is how you could see it on a first look. With all this, their rhythm is very different from European style and if there is a choice between going lunch/dinner or do sport, will go for the food option. For the last months I got back to an old habit, doing sport during lunch time. I have the luck to have a gym in the office, so I take advantage of it. After some days a local girl joined me during my training. After some minutes of sport, slow run and some walking she changed her clothes and got back to work. I could not hold, and I discussed this topic with some other local colleagues trying to understand why you wouldn’t want to take a shower after a session. Their answer: Taiwanese people don’t sweat! Up to you to judge or not….
- Drawing letters
I have learned during this time that Taiwanese people do learn the letters at school. Is a mandatory task and depending at which school you go you learn it faster or later. Had a small competition with one of them to see if we remember the school writing of letters. I was surprised to see they learn the letters as the characters. No mater the letter he was writing, he would not raise the pen. Long or short words, everything was in a slow, calligraphic, continuous writing type.
- Speed services
I think this habit is something they took from Japanese culture. Everything is on time, fast and well threated. Want to have a bank account? Ok wait 30 minutes and you will receive your card. Want to buy train tickets or buss for another city? No worries just stop on no matter what street at a convenient store and check their machines. Nothing seems to be complicated here when you need to deal with the local entities or procedure. I think is the main plus that this country has. It will save you from a lot of stress.
- The backpack and the metro
Taiwan is an island with 22 mil people. Only in Taipei, there are 2700000. The people are used to live more outside than spending the time inside their house, so you will always see people on streets or jam or traffic at the metro. With all this, the system is very well thought and even if you arrive on the metro station you see long queues most likely you have space in the 1st or 2nd metro. Anyhow, there is one thing that I think can be improved and add even more space, and that is to remove the backpacks while inside. Nobody does it, nobody feels offended by people not doing and nobody thought that those bags are bothering the other passengers… The foreigners 😊
- Riding a scooter
Asia has an impressive number of scooters that are used every day. Is the common transportation way in most of the countries in this area and so important that Taiwan has different rules for these drivers. You always need to watch 2 times before crossing a street as the way that you are looking might not be the one that scooters use. What I am talking about? A scooter, while in a crossroad, can’t turn automatically to left. For him to do that we will take easy right and wait with the cars that were already on that lane for the light. After that they will manage to arrive to the direction wanted. Looks like this measure avoids a lot of accidents and fluidizes the traffic.
Watch the following link until the end to understand better: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4i47vTsVR8