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About Winning and Losing (Coming to terms with being a Loser)

For Exercise 18: Local Expressions, I decided to do my favourite slang so far: winner/loser. My Taiwanese friend Eunice, who has been an incredible guide, introduced me to it.

What it means: if you’re in a relationship, you’re known as a “winner” here. Following that idea, singles are called “losers”. According to Eunice, we shouldn’t be too offended if we’re asked whether we’re ‘losers’, as it’s just another way of asking whether someone is single here. However, it’s much more commonly used jokingly between friends.

I have to say it has become a bit of a running joke between my friends.

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She explained this when we were walking back from dinner one evening, enjoying NTU’s green and not very well-lit campus, and saw a lot of couples. Some were walking, a few were involved in some heavy PDA, but at least half were on a bike.  Seeing as I’m Dutch, and have grown up taking and being taken by friends on the back of a bike, this is not an unusual sight. What I had been wondering about earlier was why Taiwanese have made the back seat so comfortable: a good amount of bikes has actual pillows on the back seat, and the majority has at least BMX pegs to stand on. Turns out, it’s very romantic to cycle with your girlfriend/boyfriend on the back of your bike here. The winners like to make their bike a bit more comfortable, seeing as they spend a lot of time on them.

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Most likely a winner.

 

Eunice also told Alba and me that the NTU campus is considered a very romantic spot for couples. I’d agree, if it were not for the huge snails, massive spiders and cockroaches, which are also at least 3 times bigger than I’m comfortable with. And that’s just the wild life I’ve been able to spot: no saying what else is more comfortable staying in the shadows…

 

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who knows what those palm trees are hiding

In Europe, you might also call an unsuccessful single a ‘loser’. But if you’re enjoying your single life to the fullest, you’d be considered more of a winner than the friend who’s always cancelling to Skype their long distance significant other. I think the difference here in Taiwan is that young people want to be in love, in a relationship, rather than just in another person. This also means that when they can consider themselves winners, they’re very keen to show the world. This leads to a lot of PDA: on campus, in the MRT, on bikes… You’d want to tell them to get a room, however this is problematic. A lot of people have roommates and/or strict visiting hours. And that’s if they live in dorms.

I might have integrated a bit too well in Great Britain, but I feel very awkward seeing it. Or as a friend said: “I get that you are happy, but constant physical contact just gets uncomfortable. They are in such weird positions too, to keep their touching to a max. It makes me feel uncomfortable for them.”

I think I’ll stick to losing: although not having to cycle on the tiny bike would be nice, I’m not sure if I could survive the PDA or constant skin contact…

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Blue bike here is probably a fellow loser (no pegs, no seat)

 

Ella, Taipei

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