“What causes culture shock? It is basically an accumulation of stress caused by a lack of the familiar…. Culture shock can hit the young, the old, the experienced, the naive. It might be a fleeting moment of melancholy, or a brief loneliness, but it can also be a profound and deep depression.” — Culture Shock! Taiwan
So the honeymoon is over. Over. It’s been a fantastic introduction to Taiwan, but as I bid good bye to my heady first few weeks here, I realize with a shock that I am living in Taiwan, not visiting, vacationing, or galavanting. So if I haven’t been in touch, don’t worry, I’m just culture shocked. Continue reading
Photo by eSonic, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons
To continue in the thread of learning languages– this time without eating– I read this interesting claim in the New York Times Magazine this week: While your native language, or langue maternelle, does not inhibit one’s understanding of the world, it may, shape it in subtle ways. As Guy Deutscher, author of the article “Does Your Language Shape How You Think?”, argues, “If different languages influence our minds in different ways, this is not because of what our language allows us to think but rather because of what it habitually obliges us to think about.”
Is that so? Continue reading
Photo by ctsnow courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons
Blog readers, meet Eva. She is my Taiwanese college roommate from Stanford, one of my best friends, and kind of a sister to me. She and her family have been my cultural translators for Taipei and Taiwan (although she currently lives in Boston), and I will be referring to their help and guidance throughout my adventure.
She has also been a great language buddy with whom I’ve been practicing my burgeoning (and bumbling) Mandarin. And at the risk of turning this into a food blog, one of the most effective ways to learn Chinese vocabulary I’ve found is through discussing food!
So before I left, I asked Eva what her top 5 favorite Taiwanese foods are, that I must try when I arrived in Taiwan. Her answers provided a great lesson in Chinese language and the fascinating etymologies of meaning that lie embedded in each combination of characters. Eva’s list of Taiwanese highlights was as follows:
1. Beef noodle soup- 牛肉麵 (niu rou mian)
2. Stir fried vegetables, in particular, watercress- 炒空心菜 (chao kong xin cai)
3. Potstickers- 鍋貼 (guo tie)
4. Grilled Sausage with Basil- 烤香腸和九層塔 (kao xiang chang he/han jiu ceng ta)
5. Stinky Tofu- 臭豆腐 (chou do fu) Continue reading
photo by beggs, courtesy of Flickr creative commons
Formosa = Taiwan. Taiwan = Formosa. So why not just use the term Taiwan, or better yet, ROC (Republic of China), as the Nationalists dubbed their stronghold of Taiwan in 1947, when they lost control of mainland China to Mao Zedong’s Communist Party, who renamed China as “The People’s Republic of China”?
Both China and Taiwan have been known by so many terms over the last 100 years, it can be hard to keep track! (Especially if you are American, and received as comprehensive a world history education as I did– i.e. not comprehensive at all.)
So, I have decided to call this blog Girl Meets Formosa, not Girl Meets Taiwan, because the term Formosa had an important connotation for my grandfather Thomas Liao (廖文毅). Formosa is the Taiwanese cultural name for Taiwan. Continue reading