• Directory of Taiwan

You know you've been a foreigner in Taiwan too long when...

Facebook user unearths funny list of ways a foreigner will realize they have lived in Taiwan for too long

Author with friend wearing gas masks in Taipei in 1997.

Author with friend wearing gas masks in Taipei in 1997. (Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A Facebook user in the group Foreigners in Taiwan (外國人在台灣) yesterday posted a document which was dated 2000 listing the many humorous ways a foreigner knows they have lived in Taiwan for probably too long.

The list had originally circulated via email among English teachers who would add to it and post it in staff rooms for laughs during the 1990s. The Facebook user, who has been a resident of Taiwan for nearly twenty years, had not modified it since the 2000 version, so there are some aspects that may need updating to include the advent of social media and smartphones. Nevertheless, most of these points will probably still resonate with many foreigners that have lived in Taiwan for several years.

You know you've been a foreigner in Taiwan too long when...

1. You can order the entire McDonald's menu in Chinese.
2. You decide it makes more sense to drive a motorcycle instead of a car.
3. More than one garment has been ruined by betel nut spit.
4. Someone doesn't stare at you and you wonder why.
5. You look both ways before crossing the sidewalk.
6. Hsiao Hsing Wine tastes good.
7. You turn left from the right lane.
8. 70 degrees Fahrenheit feels cold.
9. You see three people on a motorcycle and figure there's room for two more.
10. "Squid" sounds better than "steak."
11. You don't notice the smell.
12. There are more things strapped to your motorcycle than you ever put in a car.
13. You stop conjugating verbs.
14. You drive on the shoulder to pass traffic.
15. The main reason you stop at a 7-11 is to buy tea eggs.
16. You expect a Chinese New Year's bonus.
17. Firecrackers don't wake you up.
18. You spend two hours and US$75 to go get potato skins and buffalo wings.
19. You can distinguish Taiwanese from Hakka.
20. Your family stops asking you when you'll be coming back.
21. Taxi drivers are considered "good drivers."
22. You withdraw your money from the bank during Chinese missile tests.
23. Beer really isn't so expensive.
24. You stop and look both ways before driving through a red light.
25. "A", "an" and "the" aren't necessary parts of speech.
26. You know when the next "big bai-bai" is.
27. Smoking is one of the dinner courses.
28. You don't mind when your date picks her/his nose in public.
29. You wear out your horn before your brakes.
30. The police call you to get information about other foreigners.
31. You know which place has the best noodles & duck meat at 3:00 a.m.
32. You (male) wear white socks with suits and black socks with tennis shorts.
33. You (female) wear socks with pantyhose in summer.
34. People who knew you when you first arrived don't recognize you.
35. You speak Chinese to your foreign friends.
36. None of your shoes have laces.
37. Taiwanese stop you on the street to ask for directions.
38. You leave the plastic on new furniture.
39. Forks feel strange.
40. You can spot the differences between the China News and the China Post.
41. The shortest distance between two points involves going through an alley.
42. You wear blue rubber flip-flops at work.
43. People don't see you for months, and when they do, don't ask you where you've been.
44. Your deodorant stick has cobwebs on it.
45. You check that the karaoke machine is working before boarding a wild chicken bus.
46. Chinese remakes of Western songs sound better than the originals.
47. You stare at other foreigners.
48. Over half of your clothes were bought at night markets.
49. You become an expert on bug zappers: the best brands & where to get them.
50. The majority of foreigners who have been in Taiwan longer than you are buried here.
51. You find yourself saying, "Oh geez, not ANOTHER Year of the Rat."
52. You know which turn signal should be on when driving the wrong way down a one-way street.
53. You get homesick for Chinese food while away from Taiwan.
54. Praying at a temple for a winning lottery number becomes a regular thing to do.
55. It becomes a tradition that at least a part of Christmas dinner is stir-fried.
56. Other foreigners give you a funny look when you tell them how long you've been here.
57. You can't think of any good reason to leave.
58. The Statute of Limitations has expired and you still don't go home.
59. You understand that smiling and nodding is Chinese body language for "Stop speaking bad Mandarin and leave me alone."
60. Passing a construction site, you realize metal scaffolding is much more dangerous than bamboo.
61. You've spent more time on the island since 1990 than any of the Taiwanese you know.
62. The last few vacations you've had have been around Taiwan on company outings.
63. You've used up more than one phone card on local calls.
64. Locals are surprised to find out you can't vote in the upcoming election.
65. Your pets are bilingual.
66. Pizza just doesn't taste right unless there's corn on it.
67. Your preferred parking spot is on a sidewalk (and you get upset when someone else parks there).
68. Most meaningful conversations take place in doorways or on slow-moving motorcycles.
69. Sometimes you look in the mirror and blink, suddenly remembering you're a foreigner.
70. You have a Taiwanese accent in your Mandarin (or you end Chinese sentences with "ho" or say "hei" instead of yes).
71. You could teach market vendors a thing or two about haggling.
72. You don't want to sit near the foreigners on the bus or in the restaurant.
73. Your English has gone to hell.
74. You start noticing the smell of *other* foreigners.
75. Foreign women look big and fat. Foreign men look big, fat, and hairy.
76. You visit home and answer the phone with "wei?"
77. You can tell the difference between types of tea.
78. You can tell taxi drivers the exact route to take...anywhere.
79. Name anything, and you know where you can buy it.
80. Wearing shoes in the house makes you *really* uncomfortable.
81. You shower in the evening.
82. The smell of chou dofu makes your mouth water.
83. You know the words to a few Chinese pop songs (and catch yourself humming them).
84. You wait till just before Chinese New Year to "pick up" new furniture.
85. You walk into restaurants and they know what you want before you order.
86. You know what styles are in back home by watching how MTC students dress year to year.
87. You get all mushy inside when you think about Chinese New Year.
88. You feel that red lights and lines on the road are "suggestions".
89. Children you've taught English to have already grown up.
90. College students you've taught English to are married and have kids.
91. All you can think of doing on Sundays is sleeping.
92. You prefer Hong Kong movies to Western movies.
93. You deflect compliments in the presence of foreign friends.
94. You fight to pay the bill.
95. You don't open gifts until you get home.
96. You have fond memories of a particular spot in Taiwan... that no longer exists.
97. Taiwan beer is the beer of choice in a pub.
98. You don't make important decisions without consulting the temple astrologer.
99. You can belt out KTV songs with the best of 'em.
100. You drink Taiwan beer with ice.
101. You can tell what someone wants by what they don't ask for.
102. You start believing that traffic in Taiwan is horrible because there are too many vehicles.
103. ICRT is a "good" radio station.
104. You own Carpenters and Air Supply CDs.
105. You own CDs with sounds of nature recorded on them.
106. You can tell what is inside a Chinese/Taiwanese cookie without biting into it.
107. You get thrust from one side of taxi to another (speed) and don't think twice about it.
108. Your Taiwanese friends don't call you by your English name.
109. You wear polyester.
110. You recognize old girlfriends.
111. Your family stops asking when you're coming home.
112. You don't know who won the Super Bowl.
113. You pick your nose and scratch in public.
114. You hawk giant looggies in public.
115. You haven't stepped in dog shit in two years and can't figure out why.
116. You can tell the difference between Germans, French, English, Americans, etc., but can't remember why.
117. Your mom has a funny accent.
118. You feel grateful you don't live in a "violent" country like America.
119. You wear pajamas and flip-flops to the store in the middle of the afternoon.
120. You seriously consider buying a PC instead of a Macintosh.
121. You see a traffic accident and don't feel anything.
122. You're on the phone, don't hear a sound for two seconds and then start saying "wei?, wei?"
123. You get annoyed when you have to repeat things you say in Chinese to your foreign friends.
124. You see a foreigner looking befuddled, walk up to him/her with a big, stupid smile on your face, embarrassed, and offer to help.
125. Chu Ke-liang is funny.
126. You think Tienmu is the place where foreigners live.
127. You own a little, yappy dog and carry it around with you.
128. You own a shirt with a pig on it.
129. You don't work for a buxiban anymore
130. You own a buxiban.
131. You eat chicken piku because your complexion isn't what it used to be.
132. You show up for a meeting on time and feel stupid, not annoyed.
133. The Olympics have come and gone "again."
134. You just can't get that Kenny G song out of your head.
135. You can't remember when you didn't have athlete's foot.
136. You buy a sexy bra for your girlfriend even though she doesn't need to wear a bra.
137. You get a post-dated check two months after completing a job and still thank the person.
138. You are in a car with six people and argue with the seventh to hurry up and get in.
139. NT$1,000 is *much* less than US$40.
140. Your kids speak better Chinese than you do.
141. Steak just doesn't taste right without an egg, noodles, and tomato sauce.
142. You don't hear vendor soundtrucks anymore.
143. Your favorite soft drink is oolong tea.
144. Someone says, "Happy Easter"...and you remember it's Easter.
145. Knives and forks are "awkward".
146. You catch yourself trying to follow the stories on Taiwanese soap operas.
147. You start seeing Taiwanese people who resemble your foreign friends and relatives back home.
148. You don't mind the sweat layer on your body during the summer.
149. You know where to buy clothes that fit you.
150. You can cook Chinese.
151. You know people in the tax office by name.
152. You know the tax system better than the people in the tax office.
153. You can't say "six" without giving the Chinese gesture for it.
154. You'd take boiled peanuts over dry-roasted any day.
155. You haven't seen any of the TV shows just coming into syndication in Taiwan.
156. Your home country money looks and feels like "monopoly money".
157. You feel embarrassed for *other* foreigners.
158. When speaking Chinese, you Chineseify English words (eg test-uh)
159. You put a Chinese system on your computer.
160. You can't live without dried fish-flavored strips (yu hsiang si)
161. You know the names of Taiwanese actors, actresses, and singers.
162. The ROC national anthem makes you feel all mushy inside.
163. Your rate of speech has dropped considerably, with lots of simple words.
164. You start the day with bean milk and oil sticks.
165. You start the day in the park exercising with people your age.
166. You have more stuff than you could possibly take home with you.
167. You don't whistle in ghost month, or you do whistle so you'll be alone
168. Your savings are in a huei
169. You're saving up for a dowry to give your girlfriends dad
170. People stop coming up to you out of the blue and say, "Will you be my friend?" because you've got that snarly "I'm a foreigner who's been in Taiwan too long" look on your face.
171. Eating organs and chicken testicles seems no more peculiar than eating chicken feet and pig knuckles.
172. Swallows nest soup doesn't gross you out
173. You use stock market tips given to you by taxi drivers
174. It doesn't bother you when taxis cut you off
175. It doesn't faze you when the clerk at a government office says every form must be filled out in quintuple twice.
176. "Mei banfa" or "bu keneng" are two perfectly acceptable answers to your inquiries at government bureaus.
177. You can't remember the last time that you didn't eat taro cake and red bean ice cream to celebrate your birthday.
178. You play mahjong until 4 a.m. with your in-laws on holidays
179. You look forward to typhoons because it means you might get a day off work
180. You stop making mistakes in your tones
181. You get a feng shui expert to go apartment hunting with you.
182. You were actually surprised when you found out that the photo of the Sung Chi-lee floating over the Great Wall was a fake.
183. You can tell the difference between a fresh and a stale betel nut.

The following were added by the author to round out the top 200:
184. You gave up hoarding receipts after never winning more than NT$200.
185. You eat rice with a spoon.
186. You look over your right shoulder for stray scooters when you get out of a taxi.
187. You wear a jacket backwards on your chest when riding a scooter in cool weather.
188. You party at PartyWorld KTV when typhoons hit.
189. You've been on all the major Taiwanese TV shows that feature foreigners.
190. You've cycled all the way around Taiwan, twice.
191. You (male) wear a white wife beater, polyester pants, and blue rubber slippers in summer.
192. You (female) wear a conservative, long-sleeve blouse, super short Daisy Duke shorts, and flip flops in summer.
193. You wear a surgical mask on your face at all times, whether you're sick or not.
194. Your main form of communication with others is Line.
195. Your favorite bar is FamilyMart
​196. You're not phased by any earthquake under a 7 on the Richter scale.
197. Your friends and family in your home country finally realize that you live in Taiwan, not Thailand.
198. You know which way to face when using a squat toilet.
199. Your Taigi (Taiwanese dialect) is better than your Guoyu (Mandarin).
200. You received Taiwanese citizenship without having to renounce the citizenship of your home country.

201. You understand all of the 200 above points.

Updated : 2021-10-18 15:03 GMT+08:00