Very interesting story! Although I would caution against the American habit of equating Western with America. I am also a Westerner, but I am Norwegian and my culture is a lot more collectivist than say American culture.

While all Westerners of course have some shared cultural traits that may set us aparts from Asians. It is worth keeping in mind that the US is a bit of an extreme outlier in a Western context. It is probably the most individualistic of all western cultures. That serves as an interesting contrast to Asian culture, but is not necessarily representative of the whole West.

Collectivist and conformist mindset is also ways in which foreigners describe my part of the West, the Nordic countries. To some degree you see this mindset in all Germanic countries.

Your story make me reflect on my own experience as a foreign student first in the US and later in the Netherlands. In the US I felt quite alone at first as the experiencewas the opposite of what your son describes. I got mimimal help with anything and felt totally lost. No idea how almost anything worked in the US.

On the positive side you make friends with American relatively quickly and many people where nice to invite me to things like thanksgiving.

The Dutch in contrast as much like Nordic people. Not very quick to get to know, and not likely to invite you home for family holidays.

However as you describe the encounter with Taiwan, everything from first day I arrived in the Netherlands was organized. The Dutch have a reputation for being organized and they did not disappoint. I got setup with everything. They gave all of us new arrivals bed sheets and stuff. Did not get anything like that in the US. I was on my own. Had to find my way to Wall-mart to get that, after a night sleeping without it.

In the Netherlands they also arrange for me to get a bank account setup and all sorts of practical things you need when you are new in a country. I felt taken care of and as your son can probably attest to, it makes a massive difference when you are entirely new in a country.

I thought I'd share as a reminder that there are quite profound differences within the West intself.

Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.

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