I was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, which is very different than the United States in many ways. Although the country is becoming more advanced, some forms of its culture are still very traditional. Also, the standard of living is much lower than most of America. There are many people who do not have jobs or are paid low wages. Because of our past history, the country has many political problems. The people are divided on becoming part of China. (My family?) moved to the U.S. four years ago when I was 19 years old because (?). I am glad that we did. Life is much better here, but I do miss some of the special things about Taiwan like the festivals
In the past, the family was very close in Taiwan. In most cases, children stayed home when they were not in school and the elderly were taken care of in the homes. When I was growing up, my mother did not work and stayed with me and my (brothers/sisters). My grandparents also lived with us. This is very different than in the U.S., where most elderly go to nursing homes when they can no longer take care of themselves.
When I was growing up, women did not have as many rights as they do now. Most women did not work, or worked in lower level jobs than the men. Girls were not encouraged as much as boys to get college degrees. I was treated differently than my brothers (?). There was also a much higher level of mental illness, depression and suicide of women because of this. Now, even though women still are not as liberated as in the West, things are much better. There are many women's groups that are fighting for equal rights and making headway. I was very surprised when I moved to the U.S. To see that women are treated so well and have so many rights. I am still shyer than the American girls in my class, because of the way I was raised. It is difficult for me to disagree with others, especially adults and teachers who I was taught to greatly respect and males. Although I have been in America for more than four years, it is still difficult for me to forget these earlier days.
However, now that so many people have moved from the countryside to Taipei (a very large percentage of the population now lives in the cities), this has changed significantly. Most women now work out of the home to help pay for the rent. This means that most children go to daycare until they are school age. Schools are very strict and high pressure. It is not unusual for teacher to hit a student who is not paying attention. This is very different than the U.S.! Also, I did not play a lot of sports when I was growing up. School is for education first. Sports and gym came a very distant second place. School is paid for by the parents, so they want to make sure that their children get their money's worth.
Today, it is much more difficult to take care of the elderly relatives in the homes, because both parents are out working. Many of the aging are not being taken care of by their families and need to be supported by the country's social services. This is putting an increased burden on our cities. It is also not unusual to see children and adults who are disabled, since it is very costly to get the right care.
When I was growing up in Taipei, it was very, very crowded. Now, it is even worse. There are about 1,600 people per square mile. It is very noisy. The housing is very close together. First, there is a lack of open space, especially in the cities. Developers have been given free rein and consequently have created tyrannical, oppressive, crowded, lightless and airless living environments. I could not believe how much open space there is in America. I may live in the very large city of (?
), but the crowding is not anything like Taipei. However, the city does have small parks where children can play. One of these was down the street from my apartment. I would play in the sandbox. I also used to go to the local Temple, because it was quiet and cool. It rains a lot from January to March, so I spent many days playing in the rain. My home was too small to stay in all day. In the summer it is very hot, both inside and outside. It is very easy to get sunburned and many times I came home that way.
Outside of the cities there is more open land. But it is not easy to find the time to relax. In addition, there is very little public transportation in the countryside. If you do not have a car, and many people who live in the city do not buy one, it is difficult to get away from Taipei. Everyone works very long hours. My father worked from (x to x pm) everyday, much longer than the work day in the U.S. Also, he would work on the weekends.
I cannot believe how big some of the houses are in the U.S. I still feel strange going into such a big home. We used to have three generations of people living in a small apartment with two bedrooms, a bathroom and kitchen. It was very difficult to find a private time by yourself, but we did not have such a need for this as in the U.S.
The pollution was also very bad when I was growing up. The skies were always filled with smog, there was acid rain, and the water was not always fit to drink. Also, the cities are very dirty, because of the crowding.
Besides the crowding and pollution, the city is not a good place to grow up. It is very unsafe for children to play outside, because the buses and cars do not always look where they are going. Also, many children are kidnapped right off the streets. In the U.S., a large number of parents put their kids into programs like soccer and dance. In fact, I feel that American children are involved with too many activities. When I was growing up, it was the opposite. If I didn't play outside with my friends, there was nothing else to do. Children get very bored and get into trouble.
My family life was very different than that in the U.S. For the meals, everyone would sit around the table and eat together. It would be a very noisy affair, with everyone talking at once. Each meal was almost like a mini-festival.
Speaking of festivals, this is something that I miss very much. In the U.S., a holiday is just for a day or a half-day parade. In Taiwan, some of the festivals went on for days. The main holidays in Taiwan were divided into two major categories: Holidays associated with the traditional lunar calendar and official holidays that were celebrated according to the Western calendar. The lunar holidays developed during the times and customs of China's past. To the people celebrating, these occasions were a time for recalling one's cultural origins and remembering the wisdom of early ages. Such holidays included New Year's Eve, the Chinese New Year, and Lantern Festival, all symbolic of discarding the old and ushering in the new; Tomb Sweeping Day, which was closely connected to China's heritage of ancestor worship; the Dragon Boat Festival, a time for warding off evil and strengthening the body; the Ghost Festival, when the outcasts from the underworld were given salvation; the celebration of the full moon and unity of mankind on Mid-Autumn Festival; and Double Ninth Festival when a debt to the older generation is remembered.
Official commemorative holidays, on the other hand, were primarily based on the achievements of the people and were celebrated to remember events important to the development of the nation. These occasions include the Founding Day of the Taiwan, Women's Day, Children's Day, Armed Forces Day, Youth Day, Teachers' Day, and days commemorating the decisive events of the Taiwan's history, including Double Tenth National Day, Taiwan's Retrocession Day, and Constitution Day to name a few.
Today I live in an apartment in (xxxx) with my family. It has xx rooms, and is larger than what I had in Taipei. I have much more freedom to do what I want, and spend a lot of time going to movies, hanging out with friends, talking on the telephone and watching TV, listening to music and reading. Some of my favorite books are (names) and movies (name).
Last night, was the big baseball game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. I couldn't believe how excited people became over a sporting event. You would not see this in Taiwan. It was fun…