In Superman lore, there is a world known as Bizzaro World, wherein everything is the exact opposite; Bizzaro-Aquaman cannot swim, Bizzaro-Marilyn Monroe is renowned for her ugliness…you get the idea. Throughout this month and change abroad, I have noticed that Taiwan is often my Bizzaro World; rarely a day goes by where I do not see something that makes me go, “Wait, what?”
In Taiwan, one is more likely to see someone using an umbrella on a sunny day than when it rains. Why? Taiwanese folk, unlike their Western counterparts that prize being tan, view being pale as a sign of wealth. In Taiwan, to call the police you dial 119; it doesn’t get more opposite than that. Today, after accidentally walking into the wrong room (yes, that still happens), my friend was shocked to find a room stockpiled with guns. You would be hard pressed to find an easily accessible, unwatched gunroom next to classrooms in the United States (to the NRA’s dismay). Taxi drivers rarely know where they are going; any open seat is fair game to fall asleep in; and clothing with children’s cartoon characters on them is all the rage.
But despite the obvious and sometimes absurd differences between Taiwan and my home, it has by no means been an unenjoyable time. In math, for one thing to truly be something’s opposite, then it must share one point of symmetry. To me, that point of symmetry is the people here. Everyone is beyond friendly and they work very hard to help foreigners. It’s quite a reassuring thought that you can go halfway around the world and still find kind people.