Posted by: jmorningstar | June 27, 2011

Wrap Up

Well I’ll admit it was hard adjusting once I got back from the trip.  I went from waking up at 7 am, doing interesting things and meeting new people all day to regular life.  When I signed up for this trip I didn’t know anyone I was going with.  I’m not a very outgoing guy so this was way outside my comfort zone.  But this group was amazing.  We had so many different personalities but everyone got along great.  Most of the other students were on this trip with people they knew, but everyone of them made me feel like part of the group. Then there is Taiwan it self.  I was so bummed out when the Japan portion got canceled but 1 day in Taipei and I knew Taiwan was nothing like I had imagined.  It’s so beautiful and the people are so friendly, its really hard to describe unless you’ve been there.

As a business student this trip was awesome.  No where else would I get so much exposure to so many different companies, not to mention a completely different business culture. I think it not only put real life examples to things we learn in the classroom but it opened my eyes to just how amazing globalization is.

Lastly, and probably the best part of the trip was the university visits.  It was awesome to meet the students and learn about their lives and culture.  That’s really a once in a life time opportunity that most people will never get to experience.

My only concern is that this was my first experience in another country and I think the next time won’t be as amazing.  Thanks Professor Peng

Posted by: jmorningstar | June 27, 2011

Jade Yacht and Qingdao Beer combo post

Today we visited Jade yacht shipbuilding company.  Jade is actually a branch of a company which builds fishing ships and is operated by Memphis Han.  Memphis was very friendly and he himself gave us the presentation.  It basically went over how his company came to be and he wrapped it up with a story about  yacht adventure and catching goats which is supposed to be an analogy for the business world.   Regardless it was entertaining.  After that we got to go see some of the ships being built.  It was amazing to see first hand projects this big.  We finished off the tour with a walk through Memphis’s family yacht which was beautiful.  I let the pictures do the talking.  He treated us to another  multi-course dinner to wrap up our day.

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The Qingdao beer company visit was brief.   They aren’t a huge multifaceted company like King Car, they specifically make beer.  They had a tour guide walk us through the brewing process.  I thought it was funny that along the way they had little cartoon characters on the walls related to beer and brewing.  For all the beer I drink I’ll admit I knew almost nothing about the brewing process.  At the end of the tour they served us dinner and we got “free beer”. the free beer consisted of little dixie cups half full with foam.  Oh well, at least it was better then “Taiwan Beer” and “Gold Metal”.

Posted by: jmorningstar | June 27, 2011

King Car Whisky

Today we woke up and got on our new bus, which looked suspiciously like our old bus.  It was an hour and a half drive to the Center for Traditional arts.  The CTR was a small street selling various arts and snack foods.  It wasn’t anything special in and of itself.  They had a Mothers-Day parade/dance thing in the street which probably was a story but I don’t understand Mandarin yet, imagine that.  However, before we left we went to see a show called Dream land.  It was an acrobatic show with people doing insane feats.  That was one of the more interesting things we’ve done.

After that we left to go to Lan-Yang Museum.  The architecture of the building was awesome; it looked like a building had sunk into the lake.  Inside the tour guide gave us a brief history of the Yilan, the surrounding area.

Our last official stop of the day was at King Car whiskey distillery.  It is unique because it’s the first whiskey distillery in Taiwan.  King Car is as involved in biology research, orchid cultivation, Coffee, and other beverages.   Before the decided to building the distillery an R&D team was sent to Scotland to examine the processes and see if it was doable.   We started out tour in the main office which was beautiful.  Then they took us into the distillery and showed us the process they use to make whiskey.  Afterwards we got the chance to try some of their whiskey which I have to admit was pretty good.

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Posted by: jmorningstar | June 27, 2011

Tunghai University and Central Taiwan Science Park

We started the day off with a visit to Tunghai University which is the school Dr. Peng went to.  The gave us two lectures, one on the history and culture of Taiwan and another on the economic status of Taiwan.  There were some really interesting facts, some of it was repeats from what we’d heard already and some of it was new.  I particularly enjoyed the economics lecture.  Then they walked us through the campus which, like most of the Universities we’ve seen, was beautiful.  It was cool to see some of the building had a Japanese styling and others were Chinese.  Also interesting was the girls dorms which were surrounded by an 8 foot wall topped with glass and barbed wire.  Apparently this was because of workers nearby who used to sneak into the girls dorm.

After the campus tour we went to the Central Taiwan Science Park.  This was a government owned area where they leased land to high tech foreign companies, one of which was Dow Corning.  These companies were given incentives to locate here in an attempt to increase foreign investment in Taiwan.

We did make a pit stop at a store similar to a two story Walmart.  I was looking for contact solution and managed to get sent up stairs, down stairs, back up stairs before giving up.  Gotta love language barriers.

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Posted by: jmorningstar | June 27, 2011

Giant Bikes and Asia University

Today our business visit was to Giant Bicycles Inc.  This was easily the best company visit yet.  They sat us down and gave us a presentation on the market strategy and global positioning of factories and offices.  After the presentation they took us into the assembly plant to show us their operations.  I thought it was particularly interesting because we could see the assembly, quality management and shipping. This really put a real world face on the things we’ve learned in class about operations management.  Unfortunately we couldn’t take picture inside the plant which would have been pretty awesome.

After the tour we left Giant and headed to Asia University.  We were greeted with lays and singing.  Inside we talked a little bit about the relationship between Asia University and U of M Flint.  Then we got some time for arts and crafts.  They gave us these big tops which you wrap a rope around the bottom of then throw the top and pull back on the rope to make it spin.  We got some time to paint them and of course with my utter lack of creativity I reverted back to the 4th grade where everything had to do with the Red Wings,  needless to say my top was lame.  I did get the top to spin a few times which earned me some Bruce Lee boxes of matches.  Apparently since the school founder also founded a hospital we went to visit that also.  They gave us a brief lecture about the hospital and then we went to the top floor (26th) for dinner.  The dinning room was very nice.  It was a revolving room with a buffet in the middle.  I had to wait awhile for my steak but it was way better then Ed’s which he got like 20 minutes before me, so I can’t complain too much.

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Posted by: jmorningstar | June 27, 2011


Our first stop was at National Taiwan Normal University.  Here we sat in on a marketing lecture which was very similar to classes here.  I was very impressed with the professor and his ability to tie all the student feedback together and transition from point to point.  After the lecture we went to an auditorium where watched a presentation on ASUS, a computer manufacturer from Taiwan.  This was interesting for me because I’ve used ASUS parts when building computers and I had no idea they were based in Taiwan.  Following the presentation the school provided us with a buffet style lunch.  I found my love for mochi which is a squishy gel like dessert ball made from rice.  We also got to me a few new friends who were more then excited to have us try Taiwanese food.  One girl even went out on the street to go buy us a certain type of fried chicken.  It was delicious.

Leaving NTNU we heading straight for Taipei 101 and KPMG.  Taipei 101 is quite a site as it’s the second largest building in the world (Largest building with electricity at the top, the locals tell me) . The KPMG office is located on the 68th floor of the building which is currently the highest occupied floor.  They gave us a presentation on the different branches of KPMG and a little about the accounting practices used in different areas of the world.  One of the coolest things though was to watch a helicopter fly over the city but we were still higher up then the helicopter.

We wrapped the day up with shopping and food from the Taipei 101 mall which is at the base of the building.

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Posted by: jmorningstar | June 27, 2011

Meining Workshop

For day 2 in Taiwan we visited our first business.  Taishan where the business is located used to be the home of one of Mattel’s first Barbie factories in Asia.  From 1966-1987 the factory employed one third of the population in Taishan.  However, they shut down operations and left Taiwan in 1987.   As we traveled through town you got the sense that this was a town that had lost more than just its’ money and jobs, it seemed to have lost its’ hope.  Much like our own Flint, Taishan was a community built around Barbie and when it left in ’87 it began to wither.   However, amidst the inevitable bitterness there is the Meining Workshop, a place that’s embracing it’s background and trying to bring hope back to this town.  At the Meining Workshop they handcraft all sorts of unique Barbie outfits.  The idea is that by selling the outfits and teaching people how to craft Barbie outfits they can help bring the community together.

Afterwards we were treated to dinner by the translator from the lecture.  This was our first exposure to a traditional Taiwanese dinner.  At first they brought out a few dishes with raw fish and oysters.  It didn’t seem like much so we did our best to fill up.  Luckily after we finish the first course they brought us more food.  It wasn’t until about the 4th course that we realized the food just kept coming.  Turns out that dinner included 12 courses!  I passed on a few dishes, namely the ox intestine which Ed claimed was, “Not bad,” while wearing a look of intense regret.  We did luck out to share a table with Jackie, Bingo, and Captain Cheng.  They were friends of the translator from our lecture and they were a riot.  I would say they definitely taught us a lot about Taiwanese culture.

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Posted by: jmorningstar | May 1, 2011

First Day in Taiwan

So yesterday was my first official day in Taipei.  Like I mentioned in the last post the city is beautiful.  It’s not nearly as clean as Tokyo but so rich with culture.  My hotel view is amazing; it looks out over the Grand hotel and the hilly landscape.  The first trip on the agenda was to the Imperial Palace museum.  This is where they house some of the greatest works of Chinese art.  Unfortunately they didn’t allow cameras in the museum so I don’t have any art pictures.

Grand Hotel view from my room

Palace Museum

After the museum we went to the Jade market in Taipei.  This is the biggest Jade market in Southeast Asia.  It was amazing to all the hand crafted ornaments, not just jade but all kinds of materials.  We learned how to say too expensive in mandarin which came in handy when bartering at the shops.

Jade Market

Next we hopped on a bus and went dinner with some of the Alumni in Taiwan who participated in study aboard at U of M Flint.  One of the students there was Jo who I had Management Science with last year. All the students spoke English very well, which in turn made me feel bad for not even knowing how to say Thank you properly in Mandarin.  They told us about their time in Flint and we learned a little about Taiwanese culture.

Lastly a group of us decided to go check out a Taiwan dance club.  We’d heard the Luccy was one of the most popular clubs in Taiwan so we got cleaned up and headed out.  Unfortunately we were unaware of the dress code and couldn’t get in because of shorts and sandals.  We found a shop selling cheap pants on the street and we each picked up a pair of parachute/pj pants. However, we couldn’t find a shop selling reasonable shoes so we got turned away again.

Day one, excellent.

Posted by: jmorningstar | April 29, 2011

Flight + Day 1 Super post

Ok so this should be 2 posts for the start of my Taiwan Study aboard trip so bear with my wall of text.

If you’ve ever flown in the U.S  I’m sure you’ve looked over the airport and noticed that one huge plane, A 2 story 747 loaming over all the other planes at the gates.  Well Wednesday that was me.  I sat there in that huge plane…and sat…and sat.  For over 2 hours I sat in the plane one maintenance delay after another.   This was on top of a 13 hour flight to Tokyo.  Surprisingly the flight wasn’t bad in the least.  I sat next to a super friendly lady heading to Manila to visit her family.  After a pair of hour long naps, a movie, solitaire and some reading we landed in Tokyo, Japan.

Once we arrived in Tokyo we were informed that we missed our connecting flight to Taipei.  Ed, Patricia, and I would have to stay the night in Japan and catch the same flight the next day at 6:50 local time.  While we didn’t like the fact that we would miss our first day in Taipei it did give us the unique opportunity to explore Tokyo for a day.

So today we set out for Tokyo, with no real plan.  With some help from the hotel staff we boarded a bus heading to downtown Tokyo (Everyone in Japan is amazingly nice).  The first thing we noticed was all the bikes.  The sidewalks were lined with them and the roads were filled.  We also noticed that unlike U.S cities the street of Tokyo are so clean you could eat off them.  I wouldn’t of course but it wouldn’t gross me out to see someone else do it.


Once we got down town we found a map and headed off for the Tokyo stock exchange.  Unfortunately Japan is on a week long holiday so it was closed but we took some pictures of the outside just to say we’ve been there.  We are business students after all.

After the long walk to get there we decided that if we’re going to see much of Tokyo we needed a bus tour.  Tokyo was definitely a fun stop but to be honest, wasn’t much different then U.S cities.  There is the imperial palace downtown but you can’t get close enough to see much.

Taipei on the other hand is a whole nother story.  We flew in tonight and it’s dark so I won’t have any pictures until tomorrow.  I can tell you one thing, this place is everything I thought Tokyo would have been.  Excited for tomorrow.

Some Tokyo Pics:

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