Mealtime Culture and the Education System in Taiwan

By: Olivia Hunt

Mealtime culture represents another face by which a country shows itself to the world. Mealtime also has many rules and traditions. Almost all dishes are eaten with the help of special chopsticks, though many restaurants have European dinner-sets and everyone may use them. After the dinner you should not leave chopsticks in food or leave them in a cup. It is allowed to hold plate close to your face and eat. In Taiwan this is not considered as etiquette violation. Nevertheless, you are not recommended to tap on dishes or glasses with chopsticks or dinner-sets. In Taiwan any child is punished for such action. You should not direct a spout at someone. However, you may put the bones near your plate on a table-cloth - a dirty table-cloth means you liked dishes. The size of portions is usually big, that is why it is recommended to order one portion for several people.
As a token of gratitude for wine or tea you may knock three times at the table with your long finger.

This is a certain form of the tradition imitation to bow three times as a token of gratitude to a respected person. For example, you may reject this or that dish or drink, but in general you are recommended to follow host's instructions. Traditionally, a Taiwan toast is made via glass lift holding it with both hands and inviting a friend to drink. Herewith a friend holds a glass with both hands too. Then, both people drink the wine looking in the face of each other. It is very important to drink for a friend as it is considered as the evidence of your friendship. Summarizing, mealtime culture in Taiwan has its peculiarities. You should know some details in order to be accepted in Taiwan society.
Taiwan's transformation has included the educational system that has given the opportunity to poor children from rural areas to earn university degrees in science and technology. This is the greatest advantage of a new educational system in Taiwan. Moreover, there are other advantages of the system, such as the high quality of primary and secondary education in Taiwan that corresponds to high standards of the world. Taiwanese culture places a high value on education; consequently, studying habits are cultivated from the very childhood. The compulsory education includes nine years of studying for all children. According to statistics data about 99% of all children go to school. However, Aborigine children do not complete the compulsory education. The fishing industry employs children from the age of 15 when children work in factories by day and go to school at night that cannot be considered as an advantage.

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