Since I have been to Taiwan several times before this summer internship, I was fairly familiar with the environment and culture. Also, since my parents are both Taiwanese, I feel like I have always been exposed to the Taiwanese culture. In addition, being able to speak Chinese helps me get by in daily life situations. Of course there are differences from American culture; however, it’s a little difficult for me to pinpoint since I grew up in an mixture of both cultures. In terms of the work environment, I haven’t noticed too big of a difference. This could be because my desk is a room with mostly Master’s and PhD students so they don’t necessarily have strict working hours or job duties. Also since my project is mostly data analysis through a computer program, I feel like I have very little chances to interact with the other students and faculty here. Most of the time I am work by myself, only checking in with my preceptor for updates or a short meetings to check the progress of my work.
One thing I did notice when I was participating in the class is that most people here don’t use their laptops to take notes, compared to the US, in my experience, where almost everyone take notes electronically. Because I am one of the few that still take notes by hand, I found this kind of interesting. Another point I observed was during the field trip down to Yulin County, one of the most rural parts of Taiwan. The county as a whole seem to have a more “freestyle” attitude. Due to the lack of people and most of the county being farmland, the traffic enforcement and parking regulations seem to be more relaxed. Cars are parked in any direction, many roads don’t have lines or lanes dividing the road, and there are no sidewalks for pedestrians. Also, I learned that in other parts of Taiwan, Taiwanese is the common language used, which I can’t understand so I had difficulty communicating with people there. This is where cultural competency comes into play, where you have to understand where the local residents are coming from and how their lifestyle varies from those from the cities. I would say overall, the cultural differences have not been that shocking to me, it was more of just getting use to being in another country.