The most frequent asian questions I get asked

Taipei101-536214241
Taipei 101, Taiwan

It is undeniable that if you are Asian or from Taiwan, you may or may not have been asked one, two or more of the questions listed below. Especially if you live in a multicultural society, most of the time people are simply curious or genuinely interested in knowing where you are from. The reason why many people may assume an Asian is Chinese, is because there are 1.1 billion people who speak Mandarin. It is the most spoken language in the world.

Where are you from?

I am from New Zealand, but my family are from Taiwan.

This is an inescapable question when you live in a western country. Most of the time people are just curious to know where your cultural background is from.

Do you speak Taiwanese?

No, only a few words.

It’s natural for people to associate the word Taiwan, with the language Taiwanese. However, the main language is Mandarin.

Are you Chinese or Taiwanese?

I am Taiwanese.

This question can get quite political. China has a long history, and most of the people in Taiwan have Chinese heritage. However with many reasons, the main one is to have the distinction that you are a Chinese from Taiwan or a Chinese from China. It’s important to remember that China and Taiwan are two different countries.

Do you speak Mandarin at home?

I speak Mandarin with my parents.

Why do Asians look a like?

Currently there are 7 billion people in the world, with 4.4 billion people being Asians. Unfortunately this question could be as similar as saying why do all Americans look a like? Because the truth is, they don’t. It’s the over exposure to the media and the desire to have certain physical traits that can gather this.

Many American celebrities have pearly white smiles, long lashes and fit bodies when they walk on the red carpet. American advertising and media also shows a certain ‘one type’ beauty that is over exposed. Models are tall, big eyed and have a pearly smile. Asian advertising shows the medias definition of ‘beauty’, with a slim figure, milky skin, shiny hair and small face. Besides the media, we all look very different.

Sadly with the rise of plastic surgery in Eastern Asia, people can begin to look a like, when people all want double eye lids, bigger eyes and v-shaped chins. It is also a matter of exposure, and how much you interact with Asian people. My simple answer is – no we do not all look a like.

Can you tell Asians apart?

Sometimes.

Just as often as some people who say Asians all look a like.. However, it may be the same as it is a struggle for me to tell European apart because of less exposure in seeing their physical appearances. Asians have very distinct features that can make it easier to tell which country the person may be from. You can also tell with certain cultural differentiation. The eyes, facial shape and eyebrows can sometimes be a huge sign. However, there are cases where it’s ambiguous and, well, it’s hard to tell!

Can you say something in Chinese?

我的名字是Katie.

Is your boyfriend Asian?

Yes.

Often when people find out I have a boyfriend, they ask me if my boyfriend is Asian too.

What is your Chinese name?


Named by my Grandma. It means “Kindness from Heaven”. Fun fact: 仁  is also a famous tea chain store in Taiwan.

image via architecture.about.com

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