So yes, I am the foreigner living in Taiwan. To be more precise I am originally from Poland and I live in Kaohsiung City. I have been in Taiwan for 2 years already and since September last year I am the student at National Sun-yat Sen University majoring in IBMBA. 2 years is not a lot, however I already keep forgetting I am a foreigner. I feel like I am a Kaohsiung local and the fact that I don’t speak the local language or I look different somehow skips my attention.
I like to call myself a “recycled student” as I have several years of work experience. In my opinion and the opinion of others coming back to studying after long period of professional career is little bit tricky. At the same time I can easily see the benefits of this situation - I think I know what kind of knowledge I find useful and I can be more critical about the study program. In other words I feel like I more “consume the knowledge” rather than do the academic studies. It is believed in Europe that this approach to studying is essential before enrolling for an MBA course hence the necessity of having the work experience.
I can say that it was my dream to study MBA since I realized the advantage the MBA graduates have in the business environment. This dream, together with my great interest in Asia and a bit of luck of having Taiwanese friends in Europe made me chose National Sun-yat Sen University.
One can say that MBA program should be the same everywhere in the world but we know it is not true. For me the greatest benefit from studying in Taiwan is the chance to make great friends. Hanging out with Taiwanese friends is like receiving the full lesson about the Asian culture - we can study together, do assignments together but also enjoy dinners, trips or even KTV.
There are some difference about the style of studying though. During my studies I always heard about the unemployment after graduation. Then during my work time in Europe we were always aware of the difficult economic situation. After year 2008 the most common term was the “economic tsunami”. Those conditions required students to become more adjustable and aggressive to survive. Many of my classmates in Poland questioned teachers, tried hard to find their own way in life. Many started up their own businesses during the studies. In comparison I think many of Taiwanese students prefer steady academic environment. Most of my Taiwanese friends who study business find the employment at some respectable corporation as the most desirable way of the future career. In other words the things here are more calm.
No matter what are our personal styles, I think working together with Taiwanese classmates is great. I am truly impressed by how my Taiwanese friends are prepared academically. Those solid foundations are great help during working on the assignments. Also I have to praise my Taiwanese friends for being hard and devoted workers with the good time management.
What works great for me is the fact that my Taiwanese friends are really curious and they like to ask me about the business practice in my country or my experience. I think this interest in the great way of learning and needless to say I do feel flattered when I am able to share something new. This asking questions works both ways - I can ask Taiwanese friends for help and they will do their best to help me.
All in all I think collaboration with my Taiwanese colleagues is always the great experience. I wish I could do it more often, for example during the business competitions. It is somehow difficult to find the competitions held in English though but with the help from my friends it should be possible.
It is very nice to study in Taiwan. I know many of my Taiwanese colleagues study or plan to study abroad. I wish you all to have as pleasant experience there as I have in your country. I hope you will meet many friends and enjoy the local culture there. In the meantime if you see me around please say “hi”. It is always great to make friends with you guys.
MBAtics & Tomasz Sniedziewski