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Old 01-14-2013, 01:36 PM
 
12 posts, read 29,669 times
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Question for foreigners and Asian Americans in Taiwan or other parts of NE Asia (Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore):

May I ask you a serious and taboo question? I'm sort of a foreigner (ABC) too, so I'd like to get other foreigner perspectives, since they are more likely to relate to me. Sorry that this will be an "uncool" question that doesn't fit the "positive cheerful" type of content in groups like this. If you don't like that, then don't read on.

Anyway, here is my question:

How do you deal with the cold, stiff, uptight body language of Taiwanese people around you in public, and the lack of eye contact? I've never been able to get used to it. It makes me feel depressed and deflated, and it seriously dampens my psychological mood. How do you adjust to it? Does it affect you at all? The body language here is very different than most other countries, as I'm sure you know. To me, normal body language is open, direct, expressive and not afraid to make eye contact. But this is not the body language in Taiwan or NE Asia (Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore) at all, as you know.

It sometimes gets me down so much that I can't even go outside in public. It makes me wonder, "How can human beings descend into such a state of being? It's like these people have become hollow empty shells with no soul or emotions. Very inhuman. The scary thing is that I am afraid that I'll turn into one of them if I'm here too long.

I am an Asian American (Taiwanese American) who grew up in California, but never fit in. I have more of a European type of soul and personality than American or Asian. I know that's a strange mix - Asian American with European soul/attitude - but that's who I am. I've never really felt like I could "be myself" in North America or NE Asia (Taiwan included). I've only felt happiest and most free to be me, in cultures in Europe, Russia, Mexico, and SE Asia. In those cultures, the body language is very open, relaxed and natural, and people make eye contact easily. So I've felt the most comfortable in those cultures, since that's how I am too.

But I've never been able to adjust to NE Asian culture. Why does the body language here and lack of eye contact get me down? Am I too sensitive and empathic? Does it ever bother you too? Do you just get used to it? If so, how?

What I don't get is this: If I'm not cold and uptight myself, how can I get used to people who are like that? It's kind of like blending matter and anti-matter, which is logically impossible. I don't see how it can be done. Am I missing something? Any advice or suggestions?

Thanks in advance for any input. And sorry that this post doesn't fit the cheerful, positive mood of the other posts here.
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:44 PM
 
Location: Macao
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Sounds like you're having some serious cultural shock issues. Even an Asian-American can experience that.

My first year in Korea, I didn't understand Koreans either. But, once I did, I had an amazing social life and social experience.

It's basically up to you to adjust. If you can't, than you go back to California, where you already know the cultural rules, etc.
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Old 01-17-2013, 03:05 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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I didn't find this at all. I found Taiwanese quite engaging, and found they make more eye-contact (along with Asians in general aside from Singapore) than people here in Australia.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:28 PM
 
Location: Macao
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I only spent 4 days in Taiwan. But within Northeast Asia (China, Korea, Japan) expats...generally Tiawan is known as the most laid-back of them. The most chill people, the more southeast asian-like of Northeast Asia.
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Old 01-18-2013, 02:22 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,344,192 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiger Beer View Post
I only spent 4 days in Taiwan. But within Northeast Asia (China, Korea, Japan) expats...generally Tiawan is known as the most laid-back of them. The most chill people, the more southeast asian-like of Northeast Asia.
But without the bad traits of SE Asians (aside from Singapore and Malaysia because they're wealthier), i.e. treating you like a walking ATM machine or trying to scam you out of money.
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:12 AM
 
Location: Macao
15,943 posts, read 36,139,074 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
But without the bad traits of SE Asians (aside from Singapore and Malaysia because they're wealthier), i.e. treating you like a walking ATM machine or trying to scam you out of money.
Agreed!

That's the one thing people don't take into account with 'friendly' countries like Thailand, etc. They might be friendly, but it's generally with some 'empty that person's pocket' motive in mind.
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:30 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,344,192 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiger Beer View Post
Agreed!

That's the one thing people don't take into account with 'friendly' countries like Thailand, etc. They might be friendly, but it's generally with some 'empty that person's pocket' motive in mind.
I feel Sri Lanka is more genuinely friendly than Thailand. Sure you have those with their hands out, but tons of ordinary folk who were just curious and really friendly with no ulterior motive...a group of young people invited me to play cricket, someone offered to let me use the internet at his house. I didn't feel intimidated or that they were up to something because there isn't as much dodginess. A lot of smiling faces. In Thailand you can't tell if the smiles are because people just want to make use of you or butter you up, since a lot of ordinary Thais are pretty indifferent/grumpy.
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Old 08-23-2013, 05:40 PM
 
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This post comes late, but might be of use to other people who stumble upon it. The truth of the matter is that culture shock is quite normal and can last years depending upon the country, the location within the country, the people you interact with, and the level of stress you are experiencing in general. Though some people won't admit to culture shock or were in a place for too short a time to experience it, there is nothing abnormal about your experience; it is quite normal and simply takes time to adjust.

The answer is you will eventually get used to it. I've been traveling and living in Japan for 20 years, and I still haven't entirely adjusted to some things. All places have their good and bad points, and eventually you learn to cope with the negative and tune them out. Actually, you might be experiencing some of the "foreigner anxiety" that is so prevalent in East Asian countries. My wife, who is Japanese, often notices the stiff, rigid reaction (or worse) of some people in Japan when they see a foreigner, hear English, or hear an accent, but you will see the same outside East Asia. Otherwise, some people are just stiff, rigid people. They exist in California or Europe too, but you have learned to avoid them or tune them out, or were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

Another thing to consider is that multi-cultural people often don't really entirely fit in anywhere. Surround yourself with other international like-minded people and enjoy the experience.

The good news is that some native people in East Asian countries also find the personality type you are encountering to be equally bothersome. No place is entirely homogenous. Find a different neighborhood, or a different city, or a place that is known for being international. Some parts of Japan are notorious for being outgoing and friendly (Osaka, Kysushu, Okinawa, for example). The area I ended up in is known for being international and has a lot of Japanese with international experience. You will likely find the same in Taiwan.
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