Sunday, February 27, 2011

Too tired to post....

Some Dorkus erectus decided to burn ghost money in the middle of a busy local road.

....so have some links.
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12 comments:

Jenna said...

Huh (on the "seven hellish months in Taiwan" article).

I feel like while most of her complaints were valid - not enough expat women, the roaches, air pollution is a bit of a shock if you haven't been to Asia or a super-crowded city like Cairo, hard to communicate and get around at first - that:

a.) her admitted lack of research and preparation (at least she admits it) was mostly to blame and

b.) her experience would have been similar or worse in almost any country she could have gone to save Japan, where air pollution and chaos shock would have been replaced by price and sheer weirdness shock. It wasn't unique to Taiwan, and in fact she had it better in Taiwan than she would have if she'd gone to, say, China.

What's interesting is that her experience was the opposite of mine: I settled into Taipei with few problems and minimal culture shock...the "hellish" part of my first year was teaching English - I worked for Kojen and despised it (kids were nice enough...Kojen itself was the problem).

I think it reinforces the idea that some people have personalities that can raise their eyebrows and carry on when told about earthquakes or spin the giant flying roaches into a funny anecdote later and can press on in the face of an unfamiliar language and culture...and some just don't. It's not bad to be that way - not everyone is cut out for expat life in a very different place and that's OK. Horses for courses, roaches for coaches.

She might have had a better time in Taipei, though. We don't have many of the problems she complains about regarding Taizhong (I know you've said you hate Taipei, Michael, but it's really not that bad).

Anonymous said...

On the terrible Taichung teaching experience article, it is interesting that the paper ran a piece about an experience that happened 6 years ago.
To be honest, I can't help thinking that certain things affected her much more than others in similar situations. Maybe if it was in somewhere other than Taichung(sorry, Michael) perhaps it might have turned out better?

But yes, excellent advice at the end about researching the culture beforehand and have a solid interest in learning the language.
Though again, I'm sure that a good number of foreigners here don't fit that criteria.

CP

Jenna said...

I will say that I think she was being a bit of a drama queen with the "when we left the airport, the first thing that greeted us was the smell of sewers and diesel."

I'm sorry, but while occasionally you get a whiff of sewer smell, it doesn't hit your nose right as you leave the airport. Taoyuan sucks but it doesn't smell like a toilet. Besides, you get whiffs of that sewer smell in ANY CITY in the world - she could say the same thing about the streets of New York, DC, Toronto, Paris...

Anyway I'm kinda with anonymous on Taizhong. Sorry, Michael. I've visited and tried to experience what it is people like about it, and other than sunnier weather, I can't figure it out. It certainly isn't cleaner air, less confusing streets, less congestion, fewer bugs, easier traffic, English signage (not that I need it anymore) or public transportation.

Anonymous said...

I know this kind of people. They have problems adapting to ANYTHING that's a bit different from where they come from, usually they already have huge problems when they just move from the north to the south within their own country... sad but true.

Okami said...

I thought the article was horrible. Basically what you would call parachute journalism. Young Canadian girl heads to Taiwan out of greed and has a bad time because she failed to do any research, and Taiwanese women jump all over white men. I think they cut the budget for editing, too. The reality is that the situation has changed a lot since the author was here and getting a job is actually quite difficult now.

I take a certain amount of schadenfreude in the ethanol policy, which was marketed as green and as reducing our reliance on imports. Both items were over-promised and horribly under-delivered and we're now stuck with a large group of rent seekers with a large influence on national politics due to the location of the first presidential primary. It sounded then suspiciously like wind power generation does now. If 2 technologies that are each over a 1000 years old and quite well understood haven't been used for large levels of power to industrialize an economy, there's probably a very good reason for that.

Thoth Harris said...

I have to agree with Anonymous and Jenna about Taichung as well. I lived in Fengyuan. It's a dismal place, even with access to Taichung City (which is, in some ways, worse than Fengyuan). Not all bad, but I live in Hsinchu, and I much prefer Hsinchu to Taichung most of the time. Particularly when you take into account the living cost. Yes, Taichung has some areas which are cheaper, but Taichung is dirty and even just driving through it makes your face so covered with layers of grime that I'm led to conclude I could build a house with the grime alone.

Stefan said...

@Okami: don't really see the connection between wind power and ethanol. Ethanol is basically a way to subsidize farmers, whereas wind power is by now well-established and used all over the world. It has it's own problems (no steady supply of power, so you can only use it as part of a mixed energy generation strategy) but that's a long way apart from Ethanol - which basically works nowhere.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

The article's URL has changed: here's the new one.

http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Teaching+English+Culture+shock/4348511/story.html

Cali said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cali said...

duh, I spent 30 minutes typing out my comments and for some reason it wasn't posted!

I was directed to your blog after reading the article about the teaching experience in Taiwan.

Long story short, I was born and raised in Taichung, but moved to Taipei for college so I can experience the "big city" vibe. You can imagine how upset I was when I read all of those bad comments she had about Taichung. Unfortunately, some of her comments may be true.

Taichung has always been the underdog with a decent amount of population but not enough resources (law enforcement, funding, etc.), I'm sure a lot of other cities are the same. The demographic are just different in different cities in Taiwan; even if Taichung have enough resources to maintain the city, it'll still be different from Taipei.


To me, Taipei was fun, modern and the big city vibe was just too fascinating. But I have to say, after living in Taipei for almost 7 years, the cons out weighted the pros. Living cost is high, and the weather is just bad.If I can chose where to live if and when I move back to Taiwan, I would prefer to move back to Taichung. I admit this city needs a lot of improvement, but it's a lot more livable compare to Taipei. I may move to other cities in Taiwan, but definitely not Taipei. With her though, I would probably disagree that she may have better experience had she lived in Taipei. She'll still have the same issues, regardless of the city she stayed and lived in.

I can somewhat relate to her frustration with the cultural shock, now that I'm living in the States. It was BAD when I first moved here, and I'm already considered the lucky ones to have good communication skills when I first moved here. I'm not too sympathetic when I read that she's still having a hard time adjusting after 7 months. I had to move away from all my friends and families to a place that I originally hated so much to the point I didn't even want to mention where I live. College football, NFL culture is just mysterious. I still cannot understand the rules, but I tried to enjoy the spirit. I tried so hard to fit in to the point people started to think I was born and raised in the States. The city I stayed at grew on me so much, now it's just sad to move away.

People are just different, maybe she's just not those type that would go all out to make an effort trying. And commenting on Taiwan as a whole when she only stayed in one city is just narrow minded. This article is way too biased to be an article on a newspaper like "The Gazette".

So, to conclude, Taichung is better! Haha.

p.s. to Jenna: I absolutely agree, her comments about women are just ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

As a Taiwanese who has spent the last 20 years living in the US, I'd say the complaints by the OP is not totally without merit. In comparison to the US or Canada, Taiwan is much more densely populated, pollution and environmental contamination thus become harder to manage. For example, every time I go back to Taiwan to visit, what hits me as a major disappointment is the smell from the sewer. Most time I can smell it just by standing at the street corner where there is a sewer vent near by.

Having said that, I don't think it is entirely fair for the OP to stereotype Taiwan because of these observations; many of these environmental issues can also be said about some major cities in the North America; ever been to New York City, or worse yet, Detroit? :)

What I have noticed over the last decade though, is the fact that Taiwan as a whole has seemed to catch up so much in terms of infrastructure improvements, while many parts of the US have either stayed stagnant or worse yet, become run down in their infrastructures.

CC

YJ said...

Well, I posted an article on Montreal Gazette to show a different opinion of Taiwan. Hope it helps balance out some of the negative aspects of the first article...
http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Plug+into+culture+avoid+shock/4428438/story.html