Showing a little friendliness
I have been living here for almost three years now, speak Chinese well and have a two-year-old son with a Taiwanese woman. I’m a decent looking, intelligent, easy-going and friendly guy with my own successful accountancy practice, which I run from home. In other words, I’m not the kind of person you would necessarily expect other people to avoid or look down on.
Here in Taipei, however, I sense a deal of antipathy from other foreigners, usually in the form of them looking the other way when they see me, and occasionally in the form of a disdainful glance.
I have spent some time reading about this phenomenon, for instance in forums such as Forumosa.com. I have to concede that when I first came to Taiwan, I would try to avoid contact with foreigners, finding such situations rather embarrassing. After a year or so, however, I became much more open about speaking to other foreigners and even moved to Tienmu for this reason. I was very disappointed to find the attitude there was no better.
There are many great things about living in Taiwan, but one of the negative sides is the frustration of not being able to interact socially as one might do in Western countries.
It’s not part of Taiwanese culture to speak to strangers longer than is necessary. It would therefore be nice to feel more human once in a while by having a brief chat with another foreigner. Instead, foreigners tend to put each other down, usually in extremely subtle ways, which makes one appreciate even more the smiles of the Taiwanese.
I think it is time for us to face up to this issue. If we are stronger as a community, perhaps we can move from being isolated and fragmented to making a positive contribution to life in Taiwan.
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