Saturday, October 18, 2008

Staring at foreigners

So, it doesn't bother me too much (usually) when people stare at me. It's not like foreigners are so unusual, even in Fong Yuan, but what can you do.

One thing that's awkward is what to do when you pass another foreigner you don't know on the street, or are sitting next to one. (And by foreigner I mean a westerner who would speak English). Some people are annoyed when other foreigners just stare past them, and others are annoyed when they act like there's some kind of connection just because you're westerners in Taiwan.

It's hard to know what to do. I used to just ignore them and act like I was invovled with something real important but I've realized I do notice them. My new thing is a half-smile and a polite nod- not I want to be your friend, but I am acknowledging your existence. Usually they just look at me like who's this crazy girl. But whatever.

A few times I've tried to help foreigners who look like they're struggling- buy a train ticket, figure out where to wait for the bus, whatever. The other day at 7-11 there was this guy at the copy machine, talking to a clerk for a really long time. I asked if I could help, said I speak a little Chinese, and he said no but thanks. I finished my shopping and as I was leaving the store he was like "Can you really speak Chinese?" I'm sure I translated in broken Chinese but I got the point across.

1 comment:

Fili said...

Yep, know what you mean.

Don't stop being friendly to foreigners, acknowledging their existence and offering to help in times of need. Some people appreciate that and it beats the hell out of just keeping to yourself.

There's a very interesting discussion about this on Forumosa...