In Kinmen, what could possibly be different about going to see big Hollywood blockbusters like Guardians of the Galaxy, Maze Runner, and Gone Girl? The answer is quite a lot. I never expected something as simple as seeing a movie to be such an effective cure for homesickness, while simultaneously delivering subtle waves of culture shock.
At first glance everything about going to the movies appears the same:the movie posters, the trailers playing overhead, and the concession counters. However, the small differences begin with a mixture of Hollywood and Taiwanese trailers. They continue when the employees aren't grumpy teenagers, but the smiling faces of adults that look genuinely happy to see you.
When you walk up to the counter, major differences appear. First, you are asked where you would like to sit in the theater. This idea is innovative and I hope it appears in American theaters. Even with preordered tickets in United States, you can still end up with unpopular seats. In Taiwan, you can guarantee that if you arrive early you can pick better seats.
Another benefit of the movie theaters in Kinmen is that if you add 10NTD to your ticket,you receive a small popcorn and soda. This brings your total to 290 NTD, less than 10 USD. Due to the monopolization of movie theaters in America, a single ticket costs 10-14 USD. Buying popcorn, a drink or candy is usually another 10 USD. Altogether, that's a total of 20 USD, or around 900-1030 NTD per person.
At the concession countera ticket doubles as a coupon for a drink and food. There are popcorn choices of Cajun, salty, sweet, or a mixture. In America, you can only order salty popcorn, sometimes with a choice of extra butter.
After making the unexpected choice of popcorn and drink,movie-goers can proceed to their seats. This can occasionally be confusing for foreigners because odd number seating is on the left and even number seating is on the right.However, this system makes sense, because it clarifies which side of the theatre people should use when they enter.
From there, movie-goers can sit back and relaxand enjoy the movie, whether it is a foreign or Taiwanese film. As a foreigner in Kinmen, it was helpful to stray from the American Blockbusters. I saw movies like Coffee Waiting Love (等一個人咖啡), Accomplices(共犯), and Dream Flight (想飛) to practice my Mandarin.Seeing a Taiwanese film can be a fantastic avenue for foreigners to practice language, to learn about the culture in which they are living, and to provide them with conversation starters. With time, they may come to appreciate and enjoy the differences all around them, in and out of the theater.