Although I consider myself a man of the world who can easily adapt to different environments rather easily, I have actually suffered three culture shocks in my life.
The first was in 1985, when I left Valencia after graduating from the local German School to enter university in Berlin. It was like moving from of a big village with friendly people to a divided metropolis full of weirdos in its western part.
Although my oldest brother took care of me sometimes, I felt pretty lost in a place where for many years I had only spent my summer and winter holidays.
Much younger than the average fellow student at the Seminar of East Asian Studies, I was basically still a child. One of them I introduced me to a guy who wanted to practice his Spanish and somehow we developed an avuncular relationship.
Some suspected him to be gay and having second thoughts about me, but that wasn´t true and he helped through the first difficult year, as I missed Spain and my classmates very much.
Two years after I had slowly started to somehow adapt to Berlin, which despite being my place of birth, never felt like home and still doesn´t, I moved to Taipei for the first time to improve my Chinese.
Notwithstanding that a German friend who had received a scholarship a year earlier had picked me up at the airport, the grey, ugly and polluted suburbs of Taiwan´s capital didn´t give me a good vibe at all.
About one month after my arrival, a German lady whom I had met there called me to ask how I was feeling. Well, obviously I wasn´t in very good shape as I started to cry on the phone.
She proposed to have a beer at her place and I willingly accepted. The funny thing is that I never felt homesick again after that evening. It would have been difficult to say what I was missing exactly anyway!
Back in good old Europe in autumn 1989, I witnessed how the infamous Iron Curtain was lifted and the Berlin Wall came down after 28 years. A feeling of great joy covered my great loneliness for a while, though I developed an unhealthy drinking habit.
Following my graduation in 1994, I tried to leave Germany by all means, but didn´t succeed for various reasons. At the same time, I rejected a well-meant offer by a Scandinavian friend who was already in Peking to work in China because I didn´t want to live in a Communist country.
When I arrived in Taipei again in 1999, things went quite smoothly and I never looked back. I knew that I had taken the right decision. After some ups and downs, at the end I stayed until 2018.
Valencia apparently had changed a lot in those 33 years that I had lived elsewhere. Impressive modern buildings, whole new districts and a vastly expanded harbor gave me the wrong impression that the small town mentality of its inhabitants had changed as well.
This disappointment, combined with the cultural devastation caused by the delusional leftist ideas that have brought the West to its knees and pseudo conservative policies that superficially masked the destruction of those traditional values that I remembered from my childhood soon made me realize that I wouldn´t fit in permanently.
While I remain a convinced European, two decades in Asia have marked me forever. It was important for me to take a break from the Far East to learn to appreciate it even more.
Due to enormous complications related with the transport of my cats in the middle of a seemingly endless pandemic, I still don´t know precisely when I will exit Spain for Taiwan. Though I’m quite confident that it will happen during the next five weeks.
I’m sure that once back in Formosa, there will be no fourth culture shock. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not worried about those dangerous tendencies that I observe in Taiwanese society, which are being fostered by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Without thinking twice about their suitability and ignoring circumstances that differ significantly from those to be found in other nations, the DPP is pushing very divisive politics.
Supposedly universal concepts copied from the West where they already have caused havoc are being implemented against the majority will in the name of progress. The minority cult, genderism and a selective view of history are just some of them.
While I start another chapter of my life in a country that all in all received me with open arms and were I have found many true friends, both local and foreign, I will keep my eyes open and continue to raise my voice.
Culture shock no. 4 to come, once you are in Taiwan?
Hi! Thanks for your suggestion. It´s funny that today I woke up with the intention to include a few words about just that-the next culture shock! Luckily, it won´t happen as I´m aware of what´s awaiting me back in Taiwan. Nevertheless, there are things that worry me. Please read the extended version and let me know if you have any other ideas regarding this tricky topic.
The so called reverse culture shock, Taiwan your home, but now different, the workd is mad, mask “culture”, paranoia, vaccines. Asia always has been different. In Taiwan people if sick with a cold would wear a mask and go to work. To save cost offices are not heated in winter, so people get sick more easily. You know in winter people wear coats inside. But perhaps you are experienced, smile about it, can’t change that. Doesn’t mean we need to follow every local (weird) habit.
In Taiwan I have never felt cold inside an office in winter, but very hot in summer due to some ridiculous energy-saving policies promoted by then President Ma Ying-jeou. It was one of the reasons why I finally quit my government job.