Lin Ying-Jie: Most Europeans are open-minded, passionate and friendly
Lin is an open-minded, extremely friendly and always cheerful Taiwanese girl who decided to spend one semester in Slovakia thanks to the Erasmus programme. Being an Erasmus exchange student myself, I was interested in how her experience compares with mine. I come from Poland, so we are not very different from Slovaks in terms of culture and mentality. As a result, I was curious how PaoPao perceives not only Slovakia but also Europe.
PP: Could you introduce yourself and tell us how long you have been in Europe, and why you decided to come here?
Lin: I am Lin from Taiwan, but I prefer people calling me “PaoPao”, which is my nickname in Taiwan. I have been here for almost 5 months now. The reason I chose Slovakia is its central position. Since it is located in the heart of Europe, it’s easy for me to make trips to explore Europe.
PP: What were your expectations before you came to Europe? And how were these expectations formed (school education, media, friends, European literature, films, books, food, etc.)?
Lin: I thought Europe was a mixture of many differences, and that it was an amazing part of world. Since I was young, I have watched many TV programmes and also read lots of books to learn about Europe.
PP: How do your expectations of Europe match up to reality? Did you experience something quite different from your expectations?
Lin: I think most of my expectations were not very different from reality, but some differences are so huge that take me a long time to get used to.
PP: What do you think is the dominant characteristics of European people? And was it easy for you to get used to them?
Lin: Most Europeans are open-minded, passionate, friendly, and they like to share with others. Getting used to them was not an issue for me. Only sometimes when I need to have my own space to do something, it is hard to find time like that.
PP: Do you think European people are familiar with the Taiwanese culture?
Lin: I don’t think so. Some Europeans think I speak the same language as the Japanese, or that I am from China. The reason may be the size of my country. Taiwan is too small to know, and our neighbours are so powerful and well-known. But fortunately, most Europeans have at least heard of Taipei, our capital city, and Taipei 101, which used to be the tallest building in the world.
PP: Did you feel more Asian in Europe than you did in Taiwan?
Lin: Yes, because of the different life style. Is it only me who always takes a shower before going to bed? And also the different. I always prefer rice to pasta.
PP: What was the most difficult part about living in Europe?
Lin: The style of living. I do care about manners and respect. I value having my time and space, and sometimes it is difficult to have some here. Asians are more conservative and calm, and I don’t want to cause trouble to people living with me.
PP: Did you make any good European friends who you could really talk to?
Lin: Yes, I did. For example, the Polish are always friendly to me, and I really like talking to them. I also made friends with an Italian girl who I spend most time with. As for the locals, I have a Slovak friend who I always share my Slovak experience with.
PP: What do you think would be the most difficult for your European friends if they lived in Taiwan?
Lin: I think the manners. People in Taiwan are more considerate of the feelings of others. In whatever we do we can’t just think of ourselves. In personality, we’re very different from Europeans, who are more egocentric.
PP: What do you most like about the European culture?
Lin: The open-mindedness. People ready to accept, or at least try new things. This is what I would like to bring back home and practise.
PP: Describe in one sentence: The European culture is like… because…
Lin: As I said, the European culture is like a mixture of differences. And there are too many for me to understand all of them.