STUDY TOUR TAI NAWI

Intro

The study tour to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Shenzhen was a great opportunity to visit East Asia and to learn about the culture, people, food and the way of business. The later one is important for me since I own an online shop selling watches that are imported from China, more specific Shenzhen.

I’ve always wanted to visit East Asia and see how things work there. I was especially curious to visit China, hence I went to China for three weeks after the study tour.

Preparation in the Netherlands

First, we needed to do a research about the East Asian regions and a case had to be done to collect money to sponsor part of the trip. The macro research helped to see what regions were going to be visited and what things are like over there. The second research our group specialised into the packaging sector, investigation the different packaging markets, their size, turnover, company structure, recycling, and cultural influences on the companies. Next, the preliminary research was done to see the difference in influence of societal factors on food packaging design between the regions. From the research I learned many things about the regions, especially form the macro research which thought me about culture, people, politics, economics, climate and much more.

Lastly, I did a case for Vitriwand where I had to program an invoice database that could handle over 55000 product which all had some kind of machine processing with different dimensions and thicknesses. It was the most complex programming I have ever done and even more important, I got it to work and I learned a lot from it.

But the preparation was not solely working on a research, during the process I made new friends. A few months before the trip we went to a farm for two days to do activities and get to know each other. We also did some other activities like a diner and language course. It was very important to me to get to know the other, because I only knew René. Since we are the only third year students that joined the study tour.

Taiwan

May 5th was the day, well prepared and with a big smile the whole group went to Taipei. The first few days we were free to do what we wanted. Everything was new or different for me: the people, the food, the tall buildings, the climate, the crowdedness, and etcetera. And I loved it!

The first true company visit was at iStaging, which was exciting but the atmosphere was relaxing. We first got a presentation and then a demo about virtual reality, something many Asian companies focus on. In the afternoon Shih Chien University was visited, where some clear differences between their education system and ours could be seen. I felt privileged to be educated in the Netherlands, the classrooms were small and packed with students. And the students mostly repeat what the teacher is doing, there is not much interaction. I did not see many beamers for presentations in the class rooms, only blackboards. I already complain when there are no images in a PowerPoint presentation, because I’m a visual learner. So it’s a good thing I study in the Netherlands.

From the visits to companies and universities it was possible to learn many things. In my opinion, a study tour is one of the best opportunities to get a look behind the scenes.

A good example for this is the company visit to MiniWiz, a company that makes product mostly out of recycles materials. They showed some awesome products and ideas about recycling in a presentation with clear examples, like cloth made of recycled bottles or structures made of recycles bottles that could function as a decor. I did not even know that it was possible to make such things out of recycled materials. After the presentation we got to see their creative office in which they even had a small aircraft.

In the evening we were free to do whatever we wanted. René and I went to night markets almost every night. It is this lively place where many people go in the evening to eat, shop and spend time together. This is the place for the best snacks and also the fruit tasted great. Especially the mango and pineapple were fantastic, probably because they grow these on the island.

One night Folkert and I were the only ones to go out of our Motel in Hsinchu. Went ended up in a bar with some local people, this is where we really found out how Taiwanese people are. They told us about the culture, which foods we should try, a typical Taiwanese drinking game, and a local camera store owner thought Folkert some things about photography. We had a great night with these lovely people!

Hong Kong

The next stop was Hong Kong, this city is quite different. From the sea, landscapes, bridges and buildings with bamboo scaffoldings to luxurious cars that are driving on the other side of the road. The people were more rushed, a lot of things were in English and the atmosphere was more western.

The first full day in Hong Kong we visited the Dutch Consulate at their location in the mountains, during the presentation I learned a lot of things about Hong Kong I did not know. Like 30% of people in Hong Kong live under the poverty threshold. Which is weird because when we arrived it looked like everything was possible in Hong Kong, extreme buildings, extravagant hotels and a lot of expensive cars. The next few days, it became more apparent that there is a large gap between rich and poor in Hong Kong.

The companies that were visited in Hong Kong had large offices in big buildings and the people there seemed to do well for themselves. These companies were in the higher segments of markets and more advanced and internationally focused, exactly what I expected from the companies in Hong Kong. But of course we do not visit enough companies to get a proper view on this.

Shenzhen

The last stop was Shenzhen, unfortunately we were here for only three days. So it was hard to get a grasp of what Shenzhen is like. Luckily René and I are going to travel in China for three weeks after the study tour to see more of the Chinese culture.

In Shenzhen we visited two production facilities, a large company and a maker space. One of the production facility made cases, glasses and other components for mobile phones. I saw a lot of things that would be automated in the Netherlands, but the labour is so cheap that it is probably more expensive to do so. Overall the factories looked good and it is what I expected from such a production facility.

Final Words

The study tour gave me the opportunity to see how things work in East Asia. In this totally different environment, you learn by experiencing it. No matter how much research you do beforehand, you have to go there to know how it is. Every day was a new adventure and learning opportunity, I enjoyed it all.