There's a drinking culture in Taiwan that even after 2 1/2 years of living here, I still can't get used to.
Wealthy people (or those that want to portray themselves as wealthy) like to show that they have good taste and are of high class by buying expensive wines and liquor. However, they bring these expensive drinks to dinner with friends, pour them up to the rim of the glass and down them like tequila with a disgusting maggot in the bottom. It's like watching a barbarian scarf down foie gras without chewing a single time. Perhaps the appreciation for these people isn't in the taste or the process that these fine drinks came to be, instead, it's the satisfaction of spending lots of money buying them. Personally, I appreciate value and taste more than the money, so I'm still having a very hard time getting used to it.
The other day, I experienced another drinking culture shock. I was late to a dinner due to work, and on the way, I got a phone call telling me to hurry up. For having left work early to attend dinner, I thought the "hurry up" was quite rude, but that was just the beginning. As soon as I arrived and sat down, a glass of wine was put in front of me and several boys said, "the rules are, if you're late, you have to drink three glasses, right as you get in." It's easy for them to drink lots, since they've nearly finished their meal, but I just sat down with an empty stomach tied in a knot from "hurrying up." "How inconsiderate of them," I thought. And then "how rude," I later realized. How gentlemanly is it to force a lady to drink? Because it was a friend's friends, I tried to rationalize it, and even consulted a close girl friend, who suggested I eat or take stomach medicine before coming to dinner. I thought I would try that the next time. However, the thought didn't sit well in my stomach, and I don't think it's something I can do after all. They can keep their frat boy culture to themselves, but if they want to force it upon me, I'm afraid it's simply too disrespectful and harmful for my health.
Culture shock indeed. If this is Taiwanese, then I'm not.