asiamagazine 2011 NO 18 A MAGAZINE BY CHALMERS STUDENTS IN ASIA
TO THE ROOF OF THE WORLD
KTV - THE WAY TO MAKE FRIENDS IN TAIWAN RACING THROUGH THE NIGHT - THE 2011 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX
Chalmers International Taiwan Office
asiamagazine WHAT IS CHALMERS international taiwan office? Chalmers International Taiwan Office, CITO, was opened in March 2003 and is the result of a bilateral exchange agreement between National Chiao Tung University, NCTU, and Chalmers University of Technology. CITO is strategically located at NCTU, near Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park. PURPOSE - Increase awareness at Chalmers about the development in East Asia, with focus on Taiwan. - Support mobility of students and staff between NCTU and Chalmers. - Enhance Chalmers’ visibility in Taiwan and the neighbouring region. A part of CITO’s mission is to enhance opportunities for Chalmers students in Asia. To do this we search for internships, master theses or other cooperation. If you are looking for assistance to grab the opportunities in Asia, do not hesitate to contact us today! THE CHALMERS ASIA MAGAZINE The purpose of this publication is to increase the awareness of Asia among the students and the staff of Chalmers. The articles are written by the Chalmers’ exchange students within the World Wide prorgramme in Asia. EDITOR ANDREA SJÖBERG
email@example.com ART DIRECTOR VIKTOR ANDERSSON
firstname.lastname@example.org CONTACT ADRESS CITO, National Chiao Tung University, 1001 Ta-Hsueh Rd., Hsinchu 300, Taiwan, R.O.C. WEB www.asia.chalmers.se PHONE +886 (0)3 573 73 69 +46 (0)31 780 41 55 FAX +886 (0)3 573 74 69 Front cover: Monk recieving gifts at Shotun festival, Lhasa, Tibet, photo by Vlad Månsson Back cover: Taipei 101, photo by Andrea Sjöberg Page 1:Cloud 9, Siargao, Philippines, photo by Viktor Andersson
asiaContents asiaOffice 2 ASIA LETTER 3 ASIA STAFF 32 ASIA APPLY
asiaReport 4 LIVING THE DREAM - BEING A PARADISE ISLAND RESORT OWNER 7 RACING THROUGH THE NIGHT - THE 2011 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX 10 THE ATLAS OF HUMAN LIFE IS GROWING FAST 12 THE JAPANESE FESTIVAL MATSURI 14 HOW TO SURVIVE AS A BACKPACKER IN CHINA 16 TO THE ROOFTOP OF THE WORLD 19 CITO ALUMNI 22 KTV - THE WAY TO MAKE FRIENDS IN TAIWAN 24 MADE IN TAIWAN 26 WHY SWEDEN?! 28 INTERNATIONAL ENTERPRISE SINGAPORE
hen I was looking for inspiration to write this editorial, I skimmed through some previous Asia Letters, written by my predecessors as Head of Office at CITO - Chalmers International Taiwan Office. It did not take me long to find common denominators; how great Taiwan is, how welcoming the Taiwanese are and how surprising it is that you can feel at home in a country that is so different from what you are used to. I felt a little disappointed with this, because it was exactly what I was planning to write about, and suddenly, the idea did not feel so special anymore. On the other hand, it shows that I feel the same way about Taiwan that many others have felt, and that the students who choose to come here next year probably will feel the same. Some of you might ask yourselves, if you have not yet had the pleasure to meet me, who is Simon and what is CITO? I am not going to tell you very much about myself, but I can explain to you what CITO is about. CITO is funded by Chalmers, and consists of the lucky ten students that every year are chosen to participate in the exchange with National Chiao Tung University, NCTU, in Hsinchu, Taiwan. Here we have a beautiful office in the main building of the school where we conduct our work. What we do is that we promote Chalmers and Sweden to students at NCTU by arranging fun and informative events. We also try to increase Chalmers visibility towards companies in Asia, and especially within Taiwan, by numerous visits to interesting businesses. Working at CITO is a great way to meet new friends, establish valuable contacts and experience the Taiwanese culture more closely.
at Chalmers, that I strongly recommend you to visit. The article gives an interesting view of the life and thoughts of an exchange student at Chalmers. Whether you are a current student somewhere in Asia, interested in becoming one, looking to write a thesis or do an internship abroad, do not hesitate to contact us. The same goes for companies looking to build relations with internationally experienced students. In any case, we are more than willing to help and we will do our best to answer any questions you might have. So, Taiwan is not so bad, and from what I have heard, my friends that have gone to study in other places in Asia and the world, are not having such a bad time either. I hope that you will enjoy reading this magazine and I am really looking forward to talk to the students that will be working at the CITO office next year. Apply for a World Wide exchange year in Asia. It is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity that should not be missed!
2011-10-26 Simon Fellin, Head of Office
Writing this letter, CITO has just held its annual opening ceremony, been visited by the Taiwanese Minister of Education and hosted the first activities for this year. If you want to know what else we have been up to, just visit our website, where you can read about our latest activities as well as check out previous issues of Asia Magazine. Making Asia Magazine is maybe the most important task for us at CITO. This edition contains articles written by exchange students in Korea, Singapore, Japan, and of course from us in Taiwan. It also features an article written by a friend of mine, 周 家楷, Kai. Kai was on exchange at Chalmers last year, and also the Head of Office at NCTU Europe, the CITO-counterpart Photo by Viktor Andersson
asiaStaff Simon Fellin
Head of Office
Deputy Head of Office and Treasurer
Holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design and Engineering from Chalmers University of Technology. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Industrial Design and Engineering.
Holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Chalmers University of Technology. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Management and Economics of Innovation.
Editor in Chief of Asia Magazine
Art Director of Asia Magazine
Holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Chalmers University of Technology. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Management and Economics
Holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Chalmers University of Technology. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Management and Economics
Responsible for Corporate Relations
Responsible for Corporate Relations
Holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Chalmers University of Technology. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Supply Chain Management.
Holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Chalmers University of Technology. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Supply Chain Management.
Responsible for the Alumni Group
Holds a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from Chalmers University of Technology. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in
Holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Chalmers University of Technology. Currently pursuing a
Wireless, Photonics and Space Engineering.
Master’s degree in Supply Chain Management
Responsible for Academic Exchange
Responsible for Academic Exchange
Holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Chalmers University of Technology. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Supply Chain Management
Holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Chalmers University of Technology. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Management and Economics of Innovation.
Living the Dream - Being a Paradise Island Resort Owner Text & photos:Viktor Andersson & Simon Fellin, NCTU Taiwan
Siargao Island is situated in the eastern part of the Philippines. If you are not a dedicated surfer, you probably have not heard of it. However, it is what many people would describe as a paradise island, with white beaches, beautiful weather and a relaxed way of life. Right on the beach lies Kawili Resort, a small four-bungalow establishment. Asia Magazine visited Kawili and met its owner, Robert Eklund. Robert started his path in the tourist business working summers in Greece while studying at the Universityt of Umeå. As the years went by, his salary increased and eventually Robert started earning more money working abroad then he did working at a travel agency in Stockholm. Robert explains, “I just left Sweden and started working as a consultant for Scandinavian travel companies at different locations. During the winters I travelled to Brazil, the United States and several places in Asia. That is what I did from when I was 25 until I was 30, but eventually I started to feel that it was about time to have something in life to hold on to. I wanted a place where I could start a business that was easy to manage, and that gave me the opportunity to stay in paradise all the time. 4
“Starting my own resort is something that I have always wanted to do. I have stayed at so many bad places during my years of travelling, and I wanted to make it right where others have failed.” “It took me two years of searching before I found Siargao and a piece of land that was in my price range. I had already searched for possible places in Brazil and Thailand, but Brazil was too expensive and Thailand was already invaded by too many Swedes. The Philippines felt new, interesting and unexplored. The fact that everyone speaks or at least understands English is a great advantage, not to mention the price level that is ridiculously low compared to many other places.” The island Siargao, populated by only around 95,000 people, will not be found in a charter catalogue any time soon. The few tourists who visit Siargao often have one goal with their stay; surfing. The island offers several spectacular sites for riding waves, and a few competitions in the sport lights up the otherwise very calm atmosphere. Robert agrees that the island really is something special.
“Don’t worry about tomorrow, it hasn’t arrived yet” “Before I decided to go for Siargao, I looked at different places around the Philippines, but I always came back here. There is a nice island feeling; cool locals, great surfing and I think it is great being at a place that is not too exploited.” The resort is situated just outside General Luna on the east coast of Siargao. Kawili´s bungalows lie right on the beach, allowing its guests frequent visits in the crystal clear and nicely tempered ocean. It takes 20 minutes with a motorbike to get to the nearest ATM, but that is really one of those things that make this place so special. Adding to this is the local flight schedule, with a mere two flights arriving and departing each week. As mentioned earlier, Siargao is famous for its surfing and after spending some time here we understand why. But there is much more to this island than spending time by the ocean. During our stay, we took an amazing motorbike ride across the island. The people in the smaller villages seldom see westerners, and during our trip we felt like celebrities with children screaming and cheering our presence. The roads may not be the best in this world, but the sights one day on a motorbike offered easily compensated for that small inconvenience. Robert has a few other suggestions on things to do while staying on the island, “surfing is a must on Siargao, spending some time in the hammock with a nice book is not that bad either.You should also try to party local style with some videoke, which is the local expression for karaoke. Life is all about enjoying each day in the Philippines, relaxing and stop worrying, which is really what you should do while visiting.” Siargao is an extremely beautiful island, and taking a boat tour to any of its, equally pretty, neighbouring islands, is a pure joy. It is hard not to be affected by the beautiful scenery. We spent one day on the sea snorkelling in caves, swimming with jellyfish, and we probably do not have to tell you that it was “very good, nice”, as the locals would have put it. Starting a resort in the Philippines is not the simplest of matters. While staying at Kawili, we got a small glimpse of how a construction process proceeds in the Philippines. It was not the most efficient project, compared to what we are used to seeing in other parts of the world. Today Robert laughs at the process of building his resort, “building this place was fun, but at times also extremely frustrating. Workethic is almost non-existent and receiving material was
quite a headache. It took five months to have my wood delivered, and when it arrived it was only 30 per cent of what I had ordered! I ended up with a degree in patience.” However, Robert says that it could have been much worse, from the stories he heard from other resort-owners, “I hired an estate broker and a lawyer, which turned out to be a successful strategy. Where others have lost their hair in frustration, I simply referred to my estate broker or lawyer. Foreigners cannot own land on the Philippines, but there are ways to get around that, I bought the land in a local’s name and signed a lease with him.” We left Siargao just before the island’s yearly surf competition was about to start. The resort was fully booked for the next coming months and Robert’s recently employed chef was soon to arrive and start cooking in Kawili’s brand new kitchen. When asked about his future plans, Robert’s answer sounds like a dream, although it is a realistic one, “I just want to live a simple life with my friends and my family, catch a few waves each day, eat and drink well, throw a party or two and enjoy life one day at the time.” After spending eleven amazing days at Robert’s resort, we really cannot blame Robert for his answer, or for his words of wisdom, “Wake up and face every new day with a smile, the Filipino know only this.They live to catch the day and the waves and because of that, they are among the happiest people in the world. Live today and do not worry about tomorrow, because it has not arrived yet.”
Racing Through the Night - the 2011 Singapore Grand Prix
Text & photos: Mattias Frösing and Peter Sommer, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
September 23rd 2011, the warm, sun-bleached plastic chairs create a rainforest-like microclimate. Pearls of sweat are slowly running along our backs as the sun sets behind the amazing skyline of Singapore’s financial district. In front of us, the US$6.2 billion casino complex Marina Bay Sands fills the horizon in a dazzling way that brings the Swiss Alps to mind. A couple of hundred metres away a distant sound reminding of a bee swarm creates a wave of excitement among the 30,000 people sitting around us. It is the 24 race cars that rev their engines as they slowly make their way out on the track for the first practice session.As they come closer the pleasant bee-swarm-noise gets louder and louder and when they pass it is a penetrating and deafening, jet motorlike sound that marks the opening of the 2011 Formula One SingTel Singapore Grand Prix. The history of Formula One and Grand Prix racing goes as far back as to 1894. It was the Parisian newspaper Le Petit Journal that organised a 128-kilometre race between Paris and the Normandy city Rouen.The winner crossed the finish line after 6 hours and 48 minutes on public roads, completing the race with a remarkable average speed of 19km/h. However, the first regularly occurring race named Grand Prix was organised in 1906 by the Automobile Club de France in the legendary racing city of Le Mans. After that motor racing quickly developed over a cou-
ple of years; the race tracks got better, the cars faster and the participation and interest for the sport grew stronger. In 1950 the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, FIA, decided to combine several national Grand Prix into a World Championship for race car drivers and the Formula One was born. Since 1950, more than 30 countries have hosted Formula One races. Traditional Formula One races include Silverstone in the UK, Spa in Belgium, Monza in Italy and of course the classical Monaco Grand Prix. However, during the last 12 years Formula One has experienced a large shift in international focus. Bahrain, China, South Korea,Turkey, United Arab Emirates, India, Malaysia and Singapore have joined the Formula One circus. This change can be related to the transfer of economic power from western to Asian economies. The first country in South East Asia to host a Formula One race was Malaysia, which has been holding Formula One races in Kuala Lumpur since 1999. In 2005 voices within Singapore were raised to create a Singapore Grand Prix.The former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said that he was disappointed that Singapore did not have a race circuit capable of hosting a Formula One race. He argued that Singapore missed out on a great opportunity to raise lots of money for the local community. Since it was “just” to close some roads, put up temporary grand stands and erect barriers and re-surface the tarmac; the decision was made 7
“I think it is a very good race. One of the best we have in the season.” - Sebastian Vettel, 2010 Formula 1 World Champion to build a street circuit in downtown Singapore. To attract the FIA president Bernie Ecclestone, Singapore offered to create the first Formula One night race in history. This was a great advantage as most of the Formula One viewers are located in European time zones, six to seven hours behind Singapore. In May 2007 a five-year contract was signed making Singapore Grand Prix one of 18 races on the 2008 Formula One calendar. Marina Bay Street Circuit is located right in the middle of the booming Marina Bay district. The area is full of architectural masterpieces and skyscrapers that rise into the sky. As the drivers make their way around the track they pass world famous landmarks such as the iconic Marina Bay Sands, Raffles Hotel, Singapore Art Science Museum and the world’s largest Ferris Wheel, Singapore Flyer. Soon the doors will also open to a new International Cruise Terminal, a National Art Gallery and a new sports stadium with the capacity of 55,000 spectators. Transport to and from the circuit is provided by Singapore’s sophisticated Mass Rapid Transit system that is accessible from the whole circuit area. The 2011 Formula One season has been totally dominated by
the defending World Champion, 24-year-old German Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing. Prior to the Singapore Grand Prix, Vettel had held ten out of thirteen possible pole positions and stood at the top of the podium eight times giving him a total of 284 points; 112 points in front of Fernando Alonso in second place. Red Bull had never won the Singapore Grand Prix and according to experts their car was not perfect for the Marina Bay Street Circuit. With a good result and some luck, Vettel could leave Singapore as the youngest driver in history defending the World Championship Title; the expectations before the race were huge. Just like previously in the season, Vettel dominated both the qualifying and the actual race but a ninth win was not enough for him to claim the World Championship Title. Jenson Button finished second which meant that Vettel was one point short of securing the title. There were no doubts that Vettel was going to win the championship but the official celebration had to wait two more weeks until the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka. The 2011 Singapore Grand Prix offered more than spectacular racing. During the race week there where more than 300 shows
and performances available to the race spectators. On the grand stage you could see international artists such as Shakira, Shaggy and Linkin Park. The nightlife offered a huge variety of clubs hosting world famous DJ’s like The Chemical Brothers, Bloody Beetroots and Simian Mobile Disco.The most exclusive night clubs were well visited by celebrities and offered free flow of champagne all night. Hosting a Formula One race in the centre of a city like Singapore is not only fun and games, it comes with a cost. The official sponsor of the race is Singapore Telecommunications, SingTel, but it is also heavily subsidised by the Singapore government. For the first race the Singapore government covered more than 60 per cent of the total bill ofUS$16 million. On the other hand, the race also has great benefits for the city in terms of marketing and increased income from the 250,000 visitors fulfilling their needs such as eating, shopping and staying in one of the many hotels. During the race weekend hotel prices more than double for hotels located near the race circuit. This is not only due to the increased demand but also because hotels pay a Formula One tax of up to 30 per cent. From time to time issues about cost and whether or not the race really is beneficial for the local community in the long run have been raised. The benefits are clear in terms of international marketing but incorporating such a huge event in the everyday life of a large city is difficult without disturbing the natural business environment. However, the city of Singapore has previously shown that they are up for demanding challenges and there is no sign of them backing down this time either. Since the start in 2008, the Singapore Grand Prix has grown into one of the largest and most spectacular race events in the whole racing calendar. During the race week Singapore flourishes and the city heart beat pumps with the adrenaline created by great racing, amazing performances and a huge crowd. Even though Singapore’s Formula One contract expires in 2012 it is more than likely that it will be extended and that Formula One racing will stay in Singapore for many years to come.
Marina Bay Street Circuit: Length: 5.073 km Number of laps: 61 Turns: 23 Lap record: 1.45.599 (Kimi Räikkönen, Ferrari, 2008) Average speed: 172.7 km/h Max speed: >300 km/h Lightning strength: 3000 lux (60 times more than a normal living room)
Formula One Race Car: Max RPM: 18000 Brake temperature: 1000°C Fuel Consumption: 130 litres per 100km Car/driver weight limit: 640kg Engine: 2,4 litres V8 0-100: 1,7 seconds 0-200: 3,8 seconds 0-300: 8,6 seconds 9
The Atlas of Human Life Is Growing Fast Text & photos: Johan Berg, Konkuk University, Seoul, Korea
A great landmark in the history of mankind was reached in year 2003 when the Human Genome Project had completely sequenced the human genome. As you are reading this article, the next big leap is taking place in Sweden, South Korea, China and India. Researchers in these countries are collaborating and working with the Human Protein Atlas project that will characterise all human proteins. This new information and knowledge can hopefully revolutionise medical science. The data is being used to find biomarkers for different diseases, such as cancer, and it is also used to examine complex protein expressions.The applications and research that will be generated from using the Human Protein Atlas will help many patients worldwide. Genes are responsible for several diseases, including cancer, and two spinoff companies from the Human Protein Atlas Project in Sweden and South Korea are cooperating to develop anticancer medicines. The human genes are coded in DNA and it was an enormous achievement when the human genome was fully sequenced because the information is, in one sense, the instruction book for human life. Companies all over the world, including these two spin-off companies from the Human Protein Atlas project, are trying to interpret this instruction book to create new medicines. The human body is a complex structure made up by different cells, but each cell contains the same genome. So how are cells able to form different functional arrangements? The answer is that specific genes from the genome are expressed in certain cells, and this is how cells become experts in different tasks. Two mechanisms occur when a gene is expressed, the transcription and the translation. Transcription is the process of creating a blueprint of the sequence of DNA which codes for the gene. The blueprint is then used in the translation process to build a protein. Proteins are one of the most important compounds in living organisms. They have various functions and collaborate with each other in different ways. Because of this it is important to know how many and which proteins that are expressed in the different cell tissues. The Human Protein Atlas Project, further on denoted as HPA, was initiated in 2003 and the goal of the project is to analyse where human proteins are located within cells and how they are expressed in different organs and cancer cell lines. The HPA project examines both normal and cancerous tissues in order to enable screening for potential cancer biomarkers.A biomark10
er is a substance that has a unique and characteristic expression pattern in a specific cell tissue. Researchers can find potential biomarkers when they compare proteins that are expressed in normal and cancerous tissues. For example, if they find a protein that is highly expressed in a cancerous tissue, but not in a normal tissue, then it is possible that the protein is connected to cancer. Characterising all human proteins is a great challenge, how can the researchers find and count proteins? The answer is antibodies! Antibodies are one of the most powerful tools in cell biology and they are used for several different applications. An antibody is a protein that recognises a distinctive part, called the antigen, of another protein. By putting a dye on the antibody, researchers are able to see where in the tissue it binds and thereby localise the protein. In November 2010, the HPA reached its halfway milestone, when data for over 10,000 human proteins were published online. A few months earlier, in June, two new HPA spin-off companies, the Swedish Atlas Antibodies AB and the South Korean AbClon Inc, were established. The HPA project groups in Sweden and South Korea co-developed antibodies for almost six years and this teamwork made the foundation of the two companies possible. The goal of the companies is to develop antibody medicines for four different types of proteins that are connected to cancer before 2014. Proteins that are linked to cancer have, as most proteins, many functions and it is impossible to explain in general terms how they work, however, a famous example is a protein named p53. A cell has a cell cycle, with different phases, and in the final phase the cell is duplicated. The two cells then enter the first phase and the cycle begins again. Cancer cells divide and grow uncontrollably because of a mutation in the DNA. One of the functions of p53 is to regulate the cell cycle, it can hold the cell cycle at one of the phases, and this allows other proteins to repair the damaged DNA so that the cell will not divide franticly. As if getting a new company up and running is not challenging enough, try dealing with cultural differences, dissimilar modes of procedure and the time difference! The equation is hard to solve and I was curious about how the first year had turned out for the two HPA spin-off companies, what were the major challenges in the beginning? I had the chance to speak to Mi Yeon Lee at AbClon about this. She explained that the greatest challenge for the two companies had been to integrate antibody technologies in both Korea and Sweden. When two companies are cooperating, it is important to use the same methods. The technology is established today and the company has recently launched a custom antibody service that provides all services related to antibody development.
There are many companies in the world that develop antibody-based drugs but it is the platform Novel Epitope Screening Technology, further on referred to as NEST, that makes AbClon special. NEST is a technology for searching for an optimised epitope. An epitope is a part of an antigen, which is recognised by antibodies. This is the position at which the antibody binds the target protein and the site is essential for the efficiency of the drug. A good antibody should bind specific, and with a high affinity, to its target. This is a reason why antibody based medicines causes few side effects, only specific proteins that are related to a disease are affected and not other proteins that are essential for the individual. The antibody drug market is gigantic. In 2008 medicines for more than US$15 billion were sold. The antibody drug market is also growing rapidly. Three of the ten most sold medicines during 2008 were antibody based and it is expected that the number in 2014 will rise to five out of ten. One explanation for this development could be that antibody based medicines can be more efficient than traditional medicines and that they have created a new field within several medicine areas. Companies are aware of the sales figures and are trying hard to get market shares. AbClon is a new company but it was not born yesterday, so what is their plan for the future? The company will within one year proceed with pre-clinical test for one antibody drug against breast cancer. AbClon is furthermore currently extracting a new epitope for a disease protein with the NEST technology. In 2015 the HPA project is believed to reach its goals. Nevertheless, the project might continue to characterise different forms of the same protein, so called isoforms. This is similar to the human genome project that started to investigate variations between human genomes after that the project had ended. The almost endless data in the HPA is a gold mine for researchers and the potential for future applications, such as medicines, is sky high. Not so many years ago people were exploring unknown areas of the world, but now the white spots on our maps are gone. In a similar way researchers are getting better and better at understanding how human life works, but we still have a long way to go until the atlas of life is completed. •The data from the Human Protein Atlas is free and available for researchers all over the globe, but commercial use is prohibited. •Researchers may use the data to publish and present new findings as long as the purpose is non-commercial. •The information is shared public via www.proteinatlas.org •The project examines the expression pattern for each human protein in 46 organs and 20 different types of cancer. •100 full-time staff are cooperating and working at seven laboratories - four in Sweden and one each in South Korea, China, and India.
DNA Animation: Richard Wheeler, used with permission, www.richardwheeler.net
The Japanese Festival - Matsuri
Text & photos: Linus Hermansson and Tommi Kerola, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo
Japanese festivals, or matsuri as they are called, are definitely very different compared to western ones. A long time ago it was believed that these festivals would appease the gods and bring fortune to the people. Today they are more like festivals with traditional food, games and joyful citywide parades with traditional clothes and customs, something that many families enjoy. The parade is a central part of the Japanese matsuri. The route itself can be over ten kilometres long and go on for several hours. Included in the parade is usually a quite heavy miniature shrine, so called omikoshi, carried on the shoulders of the participants. It is also common to pull giant taiko drums, which are usually several meters long and at least one meter wide. In addition to this, a large number of the local population participate in the parade dressed up in traditional clothes, or as traditional characters, such as old gods or samurai. It was believed that the more worn out the carriers were after the parade, the more satisfied the gods would be. Because of this people sometimes jump up onto the already heavy shrine to increase the weight on the carriers. Since this can be quite a burden for the carriers, there are several resting places along the parade route. Here the carriers may rest and receive gifts, such as water and beer from the local population. In the Suginami district in Tokyo there is a Shinto shrine called Igusa Hachimangu, which has existed for many hundred years. The shrine itself has a large temple area where different Shinto traditions can be performed. Outside the temple area there is a large space for setting up stands when any celebration is held.
The Igusa Hachimangu Shinto shrine holds an annual matsuri which showcases many different aspects of the Shinto religion and Japanese culture.This particular matsuri is called gokokuhojo, literally meaning fertility of the five grains. It is a harvest festival celebrated in order to please the gods and bring a bountiful harvest. When the parade starts from the shrine, the giant taiko drums announce to the people living nearby that the matsuri has arrived. Throughout the whole parade these giant drums are banged upon to attract the attention of the local citizens and to remind everyone to celebrate the matsuri. Several people are required in order to simply pull the drums, due to their large size. During the ritual three persons stand on top of the drum while lowering the lanterns they are holding in front of the drum. This is followed by them shouting ritual chants. The persons then raise the lanterns and the drummer bangs the drum with all his might. Several traditional characters are included in the parade. A particularly interesting person is Tengu, who is an ancient Japanese god with a drastic appearance of a red face, gigantic nose, traditional clothes and carrying a spear. Despite the fact that Tengu looks evil and radical, he is today considered a protector of the people and the environment they live in. Along with Tengu, various god creatures can be identified in the parade.There is also a prominent horse archer present which is a key part of the Igusa Hachimangu shrineâ€™s history. Once every five years the shrine hosts real live demonstrations of horse archery, to show that the art is still alive.
After four hours of marching through the streets near Igusa Hachimangu the parade once again reaches the shrine where it started from. In connection with this, many local families, some dressed up in traditional Japanese clothes, such as kimonos, enter the festival area surrounding the shrine. At the festival area various games and traditional Japanese food can be tried and enjoyed. A popular game is the goldfish scooping called kingyo sukui, where the objective is to catch a goldfish using a very fragile scooper. If you manage to catch a fish, you may take it home as a pet, something many kids enjoy. A large number of food stalls offer a diverse selection of Japanese cuisine. One of the most popular dishes, takoyaki, is a ball shaped treat made of pancake batter containing octopus tentacles. Another much appreciated dish is taiyaki, a fish shaped treat also made of pancake batter but with bean paste inside. For those that want something less daring, yakisoba is a good choice, which is a special version of fried noodles. After having visited the festival area and tried out the different kinds of food and games, it is common for families to continue on into the temple area. However, before entering the area it is tradition to wash your hands with water from a ritual bowl called tsukubai.The way the washing is carried out is highly ritualised and symbolises cleansing yourself before approaching the gods. First the left hand is washed then the right hand. Inside the temple area a traditional Japanese theatre called kyogen takes place. Kyogen is a comical farce that adults can enjoy while their children play nearby.
In a courtyard inside the temple area there is a large shrine. In front of the shrine people stand in line to pray in the traditional Shinto way. This procedure is as well as the hand washing highly ritualised and begins with ringing the shrine bell and then bowing twice facing the shrine. This is followed by clapping your hands twice and then finally slowly bowing your head while making your wish.This is a practice which many Japanese people perform even though not everyone believes that it will actually make the wish come true. In the evening the matsuri celebration is continued with a party for the people who have been working hard and who have participated in the parade. This is called an otsukaresama party. Otsukaresama is a Japanese expression used to thank people for their hard work. The atmosphere is highly joyful and the participants eat, drink and thank each other for the effort and struggle in order to make this matsuri as great as possible. When the night finally arrives, families start to collect their children, order a last treat from one of the numerous shops or play one last game. The heavy omikoshi that was carried during the whole parade is sealed inside a special storage room in the temple, and is not to be opened until next year when the matsuri is held again. The Japanese matsuri is surely a magical experience that truly lacks equivalence in western society. Both foreign exchange students and local Japanese families can definitely enjoy the festival. So if you want to learn more about and experience the ancient Japanese culture, enjoy amazing food and the atmosphere of a whole city celebrating, then a Japanese matsuri is a must-try! 13
How to Survive as a Backpacker in China Text & photos: Linnéa Petersson & Carolina Ståhlberg
Full of anticipation and excitement for arriving in China, a land of ancient history and culture, incredible sceneries and significant economic development, we walked out from Beijing airport. When we arrived at the taxi stop it was not the taxi line that caught our attention, it was the endless line of people with the same intention as us. Even though we knew that China has a population 144 times larger than that of Sweden this sight changed our definition of the word crowded. After being dropped off in a small, dark alley to look for our hostel we were distracted by the smell and the large group of drinking and spitting Chinese men with shirts rolled up to their armpits who stared at us as if we were aliens. In silence we all looked at each other, wondering how we were going to survive the following three weeks as backpackers in China. This first impression of the Chinese culture was more shocking than we had imagined and we were to learn that this was simply one of many similar encounters. However, after having finished our trip, we now consider ourselves experienced backpackers with all the required insight in the exist14
ing cultural differences between China and Sweden. We would therefore like to present a few tips that can be useful when travelling in China. These tips are based on what we experienced both voluntarily and involuntarily during our trip. 1.Bargain, bargain and …bargain In China there are no such things as price tags, at least not in the numerous markets where you can buy anything from clothing and bags to electronics. Instead you set the prices yourself. Swedish people are known for their dislike to bargain. This is fine, but be aware of that the seller might use this against you. The much overused phrase “I know you do not like to bargain, that is why I will give you the lowest price right away” is easy to fall for, but do not.This consideration and concern is not sincere! The first step to a successful bargain is to find your own bargaining technique with which you feel comfortable. Following are some of the techniques we found most successful during our backpacking trip. The first one we simply call “Mr Charming” where the key is to make friends with the seller and make him or her feel special. Do not hesitate to use cheap tricks such as
putting on your cheesiest smile to get what you want. Remember anything is allowed in love and war, and clothing markets in China surely is a battle field! The second technique requires a fellow shopper with whom you can play “god cop, bad cop”.This means that you as a god cop express high willingness to buy the product and still remain on good terms with the seller, while your friend handles the tough bargaining. If none of the above works you can always try the old and proven “walk-away” technique. 2. When in China - Eat like the locals When it comes to eating in a restaurant in China the etiquette differs from the western one. If you have a dinner with Chinese people you have to get used to not ordering your own plate. The custom is to order several dishes that you all share. If you eat anything with bones in it you can put this on the tablecloth next to your plate. Furthermore you should not fill up your glass since this will be taken care of by your Chinese dinner company. If you are the type of person who enjoys eating under quiet and peaceful circumstances Chinese restaurants are not for you. Here, the rule the louder the better applies. Also, chewing with your mouth open in order to inhale more air apparently makes the food taste better. However, this excessive amount of air may cause an abrupt and frequent need for burping, which is fine. This is simply a part of the Chinese way of eating. Even when following the customs stated above, dining in China can turn out to be a nightmare. Not being careful about what and where you eat can have devastating consequences for the wellbeing of your stomach. The trick is to spot where the locals eat; the more guests the better. If possible always choose a restaurant where you can see the food being made.
use the taximeter in order to avoid being ripped off. For longer distances you can choose to travel by air or train. As a backpacker on a tight budget train is the better and cheaper choice. However, China is one of the world’s largest countries and travelling across it might take a while. Do not be intimidated by the thought of spending 30 hours sharing a small open compartment with five other persons without air condition. With the right mindset this experience can be far more rewarding than you first might have thought. Except for the time being spent in either a dark tunnel or standing still at a station, which half the travel time actually consists of, the train ride allows you to witness great sceneries and experience China in the same way as locals do. Moreover, do not be afraid if you find yourself looking into a pair of starring eyes after a nap, this is most likely a curious Chinese person trying to make friends with a foreigner like you. When we left China after three weeks of backpacking we felt tired from all the travelling, lack of sleep and still not being adjusted to the Chinese food.We boarded the airplane, taking us back to the more westernised Taiwan, with mixed feelings of sadness and relief. However, now one month later when looking back on our trip and all the experiences we gained and the memories we created, we see our stay in China from a different perspective. What at times seemed hard are now only fun anecdotes. China is definitely the place to go if you are looking for a challenging destination offering great cultural experiences and stunning views. Our final tip is therefore to embrace the culture and keep our valuable guidelines in mind. Then, you will not only survive as a backpacker in China, you will enjoy the journey far more.
3. Do not avoid the unavoidable One thing you have to accept when travelling in China is that a toilet visit can be a very different experience from what you are used to.There is a wide range of toilets to be found, from the most primitive to almost acceptable according to western standards. If you are lucky you might find a western toilet and on rare occasions it might even have toilet paper. However, the most frequent one is the Asian version, simply consisting of a hole in the ground either with automatic or manual flushing. In the more luxurious version you have your own booth with a door but sometimes you will come across the ones’ without, forcing you to let go of your principles and turn the toilet visit into a group activity. On the bright side, though, there is one great benefit with the Asian style, which is that you will get a thorough thigh exercise. 4. Take the train and experience the real China Travelling in China is easy and if you have the time it can be very cheap. In the cities you can get around with subway or taxi. When taking the taxi always remember to tell the taxi driver to
To the Rooftop of the World Text & photos:Vlad Månsson
Are you looking for a truly exhilarating travel destination? If so, Tibet can offer you an adventure of a lifetime. In China’s far west, on the world’s largest and highest plateau with an average elevation of over 4,500 meters, lies the province of Tibet. With a highly religious and colourful population, a unique cultural heritage and the world’s highest mountains, Tibet guarantees an experience beyond your average vacation destination. However, a strong Chinese governmental control and bureaucracy complicates the arrangement of permits and tickets, making this region a truly hard-to-reach location. But I accepted the challenge! The travel destination of my dreams, Tibet and Mount Everest was only one month of arrangements, two flights and three train rides away from Taiwan. The spectacular train ride from Chengdu in western China to Lhasa in Tibet takes around 45 hours and it is the highest elevated and one of the most scenic railroads in the world.After sitting in a cramped train compartment for almost two days and two nights I wanted to run around, but I got reminded of the elevation and the thin air as soon as I had arrived and climbed the first flight of stairs. Arriving at the hotel in central Lhasa, I was struck by the sight of other tourists looking tired and pale, all of them with 16
water in their hands and some even carrying oxygen bottles. They took the fast way in, by flight. However, without time for a proper acclimatization, the altitude can really ruin your vacation. Lhasa, formerly the highest capital city in the world at around 3,600 meters, and the first stop of my journey, is the religious, cultural and economical hub of Tibet. Pilgrims, nomads and traders come here from all over Tibet to visit the famous religious sites, sell yak meat and butter or buy imported goods to prepare for the upcoming winter. Laying in the heart of the city, the Potala Palace, previously the residence of Dalai Lama, is a gigantic architectural masterpiece. But unlike other important sites in Lhasa the Potala lacks energy and activity. The 1,000 rooms stand lifeless and the number of Chinese security and military personnel easily outnumbers the few remaining monks. Rushing through the palace’s empty, spotless rooms you constantly get reminded of the 14th Dalai Lama, currently living in exile in India since the Tibetan uprising in 1959. Nowadays Lhasa is more than a city with mysterious temples, narrow alleyways and Tibetans on a kora, a religious pilgrim walking circuit. Modern Lhasa is a bustling city with heavy traffic along the main road, large supermarkets and Chinese fast-food restaurants. Since 1950 when China took control
over Tibet, or liberated the Tibetans as they refer to it in China, Lhasa has grown from about 25,000 inhabitants to about 500,000, most of them Chinese. The presence of Chinese tourists walking around with boots and cowboy hats enhances the notion that Chinese regard Tibet as the wild west of China. I had the great opportunity and luck to visit Lhasa during the yearly Shotun, yoghurt, festival. The origin of the festival derives from the celebration of the several months long summerperiod when monks stay inside the monasteries and meditate to avoid stepping on and killing any insects. When the monks were allowed to exit the monasteries they were greeted by thousands of Tibetans which offered them yoghurt and celebrated them by performing Tibetan opera shows. Even today pilgrims wander to Lhasa from all over Tibet and other parts of China to celebrate the Shotun festival. The first day of the festival is celebrated at Drepung, formerly the worldâ€™s largest monastery. This year around 200,000 Tibetans, and me, walked around a giant Thangka, an embroidered Tibetan silk painting, which they only reveal once a year. As a way of blending in and to avoid inhaling too much dust I covered my face with a scarf and let myself be dragged through the massive crowd of chanting Buddhists. This was a highly memorable
experience that I will carry with me for many years to come. After almost one week in Lhasa it was time to continue the journey and head for the main event of my trip, Qomolangma, or as we better know it, Mount Everest. As an outdoor enthusiast and rock climber, Everest is more than a massive piece of ice and rock to me. It is a symbol of courage, determination and achieving the impossible. The long and bumpy road to Everest Base Camp runs across vast plains, high mountain passes and some of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Even though the two day journey mostly involves sitting on a minibus or jeep, it is an experience I will never forget. Every turn of the road reveals even more breathtaking sceneries and the short stops in small villages along the way exposes the genuine Tibet. A reality which the Chinese government do not show in the brochures and does not want you to discover. Due to paperwork bureaucracy and military checkpoints our small guided group had to drive several hours at night-time, relying on the driver to manage the steep mountain roads. We finally arrived at Mount Everest tent camp close to midnight. At 5,100 meters the air is much thinner, with only 55 per cent
of the oxygen available compared to sea level, which caused several to suffer with headaches, shortness of breath and vomiting. Although we were many hours late a nomad family, friends of our guide, greeted us with hot tea and a comforting fire in their tent. The warm welcome was overwhelming after hours of driving through the Himalayan mountain range. I could not sleep that night. I think none of us really could. For some it was due to the thin air and the cold outside. For me it was mostly because of the excitement. At 5 AM, in complete darkness, we started the walk up towards Base Camp at 5,200 meters. A few of us, feeling healthier and maybe more thrilled than the others, pushed ahead to make it before sunrise. Placing a few prayer flags with our names on at Base Camp, we all made a last call upon the nature gods to answer our prayers and deliver good weather. And they did. When the sun rose from the east over Mount Everest North Face I was stunned. I had seen pictures of this mountain hundreds of times before. But nothing comes close to being there, breathing the thin Himalayan air, surrounded by snow covered peaks and staring up at this huge symbol of one of nature’s greatest achievement. This moment was worth all the preparations, the long journey and all the frustrations over Chinese bureaucracy. Despite being freezing cold I only had one thing on my mind; one day I am going to be on the top of that mountain.
History 630. Songtsen Gampo is considerd to be the founder of Tibet and the King which established Buddhism in the Land of snows. 1200. The Mongol emperor Genghis Khan invades large parts of Asia and Tibet was incorporated into the Mongolian empire. Later on, around year 1500, Atlan Khan, a Mongolian emperor started the Dalai Lama tradition. 1950. Tibet is invaded by the superior Chinese army during the so called Tibetan Liberation and Tibet is incorporated as a part of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). 1965. Thousands of Tibetan monasteries and temples were destroyed and monks, nuns and demonstrators were killed during the Cultural Revolution in China. The Tibetan “hail to the jewel in the lotus” is replaced by “long live Chairman Mao” mantra. 2008. Large Tibetan uprising in which Han Chinese was attacked and Chinese shops were burnt down. Beijing reacted quickly and imposed curfews and travel restrictions for Tibetans. Today a large Chinese military presence and constant public surveillance in Tibet will assure the rebellion will not repeat itself..
The 14th Dalai Lama The Dalai Lama, the highest religious and political leader of Tibet, is a tradition that has its origins in the 16th century. When he dies, a new Dalai Lama is selected by influential Tibetan monks, usually at an age of 5 or 6. The 14th, present, Dalai Lama fled to India during the uprising in 1959 when Tibetans revolted for liberation from China. Living in exile ever since, the Dalai Lama has been fighting for the rights of the Tibetan people and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. 18
CITO Alumni Text & photos: Saamet Ekici & Viktor Hallman, NCTU, Taiwan
Chalmers students going on an exchange to the National Chiao Tung University, NCTU, in Taiwan have the great opportunity to combine their studies with an interesting task, running the Chalmers International Taiwan Office, CITO. The office opened in 2003 with the intent of building and maintaining valuable networks with students as well as companies in Asia. Asia Magazine have had the pleasure of meeting two of the former CITO members to investigate along which road CITO and Taiwan has led them. Fredrik Ramberg Product Engineer at TSMC CITO 2006/2007 â€“ Art Director of Asia Magazine I currently work at the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, TSMC, as a production engineer. A great part of my work includes interaction with customers. TSMC provides the technology for manufacturing of semiconductors and is the largest producer of semiconductors in the world. The headquarters and research and development department is based in the famous Hsinchu Science Park, within walking distance from NCTU. The science park is with its more than
400 high tech companies often called Asiaâ€™s Silicon Valley. After the World Wide exchange year in Taiwan I got the opportunity to write my master thesis for TSMC. The best way to find a company for writing a master thesis or an internship is to ask a professor at school for help. Most of them have contacts in the industry, especially within the science park. When I had finished my master thesis I worked in Sweden for one year but in the beginning of 2010 I returned to Taiwan and have lived here since then. I began studying Chinese during my exchange year. Knowing Chinese is useful both professionally and in my daily life here in Taiwan. Managing basic Chinese makes it easier to connect with colleagues and to be more independent. Even when I speak with colleagues and customers in the US they are often Chinese speaking people so knowing the culture and the language helps a lot. It is almost like a new world is opening up. However I still use English in my work and especially during presentations. One difference between working in Taiwan compared to Sweden is the working culture. Where I work the salary is not based upon the number of working hours but rather
“This is the place to be”
on your performance. In Taiwan employees are very focused on the performance, which of course has its advantages and disadvantages. People are also more interested in each other’s salaries here and having a higher academic record is seen as a higher status symbol, compared to Sweden.
Where are you in ten years? - I am probably still in Asia because this is where everything is happening. Most companies already have production here and the development is shifting towards Asia in a high rate. So in order to continue with what I find interesting, this is the place to be.
During my year at NCTU my position at the CITO was Art Director of Asia Magazine. I had no experience of graphical editing so I saw this as a great opportunity to work with something new. I would probably not have had the chance to try it somewhere else. When I chose Taiwan for my exchange year abroad I had several things in mind. In Sweden I studied Engineering Physics and felt that choosing Taiwan and NCTU was the best choice considering my future career, with regards to NCTU’s competence within the field and its connection to the Hsinchu Science Park. The best memory from my year at NCTU and CITO was all the new friends I met. We were a great group and had lots of fun together. I am still in contact with most of them, even though I am in Taiwan and it has been almost five years since my CITO year. Being here as an exchange student gives you great experience of the culture, food and people. In this way I already knew what to expect when I decided to come back to Taiwan and work. Although I have to say that one year is not enough to learn the Taiwanese lifestyle, and I am still learning. The main reason for coming back to Asia and Taiwan for work was that I, during my exchange year, met my wife. She was studying at National Tsing Hua University, NTHU, at that time. Although my initial plan was to go back to Sweden, after working in Sweden for one year, I did not really enjoy it and I missed the working culture in Taiwan. I was working with a larger company in Sweden and felt that the level of ambition was lower among the employees. Life in Taiwan is in my opinion very convenient.There are always stores and restaurants open until late at night and there are always things to do. Depending on if you want to go to the beach or hiking in the mountains, Taiwan offers this within the hour. The weather is also very good but I prefer the Taiwanese autumn, which is more like the summer we have back in Sweden.
“Taiwan is an amazing country” Linus Hallberg Student at Chalmers CITO 2009/2010 – Corporate Relations and IT Which bachelor program did you study at Chalmers and which master are you pursuing?
Tell us about your internship in Taiwan. Would you have managed without your Chinese language skills?
Was it easy to find relevant courses for your master at NCTU?
- I learned a lot. I was working at TSMC with interesting tasks. The official company language is of course English but that does not mean that all Taiwanese are good at it. During my first day I only spoke Chinese with the HR-staff so they put me in the standard introduction group instead of the smaller one for foreigners. You can manage without Chinese too but you will be more dependent on others more or less every day.
-Yes, the university offered interesting courses that I was able to count as master courses for my master at Chalmers.
What do you think about your year in Taiwan? Which are the best memories you take with you?
How was the level of the courses in Taiwan compared to Sweden?
- It was fantastic! Taiwan is an amazing country with beautiful scenery and genuinely kind people. As soon as you seem confused, on for example a train station, people will come and offer to help you.
-I studied Engineering Physics and now I am studying Wireless and Photonics Engineering.
-The workload of the courses was generally lower than what I am used to at Chalmers. The Taiwanese students have to do daily work for a professor. This does not apply for the exchange students so therefore the workload for exchange students is much lower compared to that of the Taiwanese students. What is the main difference in how the teaching is conducted in Taiwan compared to Sweden? -The way in which the teaching is conducted in Taiwan is similar to Chalmers. I am satisfied with all the teachers I had during the year. One large difference is how the examinations are constructed. One thing that I got confirmed is that you need more skills in problem solving to pass an exam in Sweden compared to Taiwan. A major part of the tasks in the exams were clearly guided computational tasks and not much of problem solving. What are you doing today? - Right now I am studying my last courses within my master program at Chalmers and then I will travel back to Taiwan in January to write my master thesis. Is it possible to learn Chinese in one year? - Yes! At first I did not think it was possible, but if you manage to keep yourself motivated the whole year you can do it. I learned to recognize 2000 Chinese characters during my year. That counts for two thirds of what is required for reading a newspaper but more than double of the requirements for managing simple conversations!
Linus Hallberg, photo by Kristofer Jovanov
KTV - The Way to Make Friends in Taiwan Text & photos: Emma Grönlund & Andrea Sjöberg
The building that we walk into has the appearance of a huge five star hotel. In the lobby we are greeted by a well-dressed, service minded woman who hands us a key and shows us the way to the elevator. We get off on the fifth floor and walk to the room where we are going to spend the evening. As we open the door we are met by eight Taiwanese students who are jumping up and down like crazy in the sofa, singing at the top of their lungs to rock music.This is our first encounter with the KTV phenomena. Caught by the moment and the friendly atmosphere, we grab the microphone and start to sing along. Already on the first day of orientation at the National Chiao Tung University, NCTU, we were told that the best way to make new friends in Taiwan is to go to the KTV, which is short for karaoke television.When we first arrived in Taiwan we were immediately struck by two things, the population is truly friendly but people tend to be shy and do not always dare to talk to foreigners. It was therefore somewhat surprising to find out that KTV is so popular, as karaoke often is associated with an outgoing personality. In order to get a better insight to what KTV is really about we sat down together with Hsu Hwei-Yi, Liao Yi-Ting, Chang SzuHan and Ping Lin Chung, four Taiwanese students from NCTU. 22
“KTV is so popular in Taiwan because it is the place to go to when you want to sing songs, eat good food and just hang out with your friends. It is also the perfect place to make new ones as everyone brings their friends to join.” - Chang Szu-Han Karaoke is short for the two Japanese words kara and okesutora, meaning empty orchestra, and is performed through singing along to recorded music without the lead vocal. Karaoke was first invented in Japan in the 1970’s in order to amuse Japanese businessmen after a long day at work. The interactive entertainment rapidly spread over the world and got especially popular in Asia. In the beginning karaoke was sung in bars and in homes, but as the singing sometimes led to barfights and disturbed neighbors the karaoke-box was invented.The karaoke-box is a closed room containing karaoke equipment that can be rented by the hour.This is the most popular form of karaoke in Asia, and especially in Taiwan, where it is called KTV. Outside of Japan,Taiwan is actually the country with the largest number of karaoke-boxes. The KTVs are open 24 hours and the prices vary depending on the time of the day and the size of the karaoke-box. The large VIP rooms can fit up to 30 persons and sometimes they even contain a stage. Hsu Hwei-Yi says that she usually rents a KTV-
room with her friends between midnight and 6 AM because then it is less crowded and the price is discounted. Food is always included in the price and can either be delivered to the room or consist of an all you can eat buffet outside of the room. Since the karaoke-box is a closed room there have been some problems with criminal activities taking place in the rooms. Today the businesses are therefore closely restricted and a license is needed in order to operate a KTV. One is reminded by the KTVâ€™s earlier history when Chang Szu-Han mentions that she sometimes sees gangsters at the KTV and that these gangsters can be recognised by their tattoos. She explains, however, that they are harmless as long as you do not look them in their eyes. KTV appeals to all ages, and you can bring your entire family along. Hsu Hwei-Yi tells us,â€œI had never heard my dad sing, but when we went with my family to KTV I realised that he actually has a really good singing voiceâ€?. KTV fits any occasion, and some Taiwanese families even spend their holidays singing KTV. The students tell us that it is the perfect place to heal a broken heart by singing sad love songs or the place to spend time during a typhoon. A perfect KTV-evening starts with a warm up where everyone sings classic Chinese rock songs and participates in the mandatory jumping in the sofa. This is needed in order for everyone to loosen up, relax and just have fun. After the warm up everyone picks out and queues their favourite songs. There is a wide spectrum of songs to choose from, ranging from classic Chinese songs to western hits by artists such as Lady Gaga and the Backstreet Boys. The hours pass by quickly as people sing and enjoy their time together. Applauds occur from time to time, either as a result of someone singing extraordinarily well or because everyone is relieved that a terrible singer has finally finished and hands over the microphone. Another way of indicating that the singer does not meet required standards is for the audience to use the remote control and change the sound of the microphone to the voice of Mickey Mouse or why not a robot. To play games is another way of varying the KTV singing. The participants can for example battle and see who is best at remembering the lyrics or hitting the most notes, pass the microphone around, or why not sing a duet? After a few weeks in Taiwan we have realised that KTV is a central part of Taiwanese pop culture. The phenomena inhibit so much more than poor singing in shady bars. KTV is actually a great way to get to know this country and the way to meet new friends. Therefore when you arrive in Taiwan, do not be shy when you are invited to join on a KTVnight, be a little audacious and grab that microphone!
Made in Taiwan Text and photos: Robert Ingemarsson, NCTU, Taiwan
Taiwan has one of the world’s largest subcontracting industries, mainly producing items made out of plastics. They export more plastic parts than any other country in the world today, which to a great extent end up in the hands of children in industrialised countries as toys. On the other hand, Taiwan does have problems with poverty, with more than 40 percent of their population living below the poverty line, which is roughly US$1 per day. You cannot even walk onto the pavement in Taipei without being approached by people, belonging to the 40 percent, trying to peddle you all sorts of cheap odds and ends in their effort to keep their family away from famine. Does this sound plausible? What if you were told that Taiwan has a higher standard of living than Denmark? Yes, according to the United Nations Human Development Index,Taiwan has a higher standard of living than Denmark, and this article will explain more. Taiwan’s rapid economic growth has transformed it into a developed country and one of the Four Asian Tigers. The Four Asian Tigers is a term used in reference to the highly-developed economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. These nations and areas are notable for maintaining growth rates exceeding 7 percent and rapid industrialisation between the 1960s and 1990s. By the 21st century, all four had developed
into advanced and high-income economies1, specialising in areas of competitive advantage. For example, Hong Kong and Singapore have become world-leading international financial centres, whereas South Korea and Taiwan are world leaders in manufacturing information technology.Taiwan’s advanced technology industry plays a key role in the global economy. “Over 80 percent of the world’s notebook computer design is outsourced to Taiwan now,” said the J.P. Morgan analyst Alvin Kwock. Most Swedes are familiar with the Taiwanese brands HTC, Acer and Asus. In 2010, Taiwan’s economic growth topped 10 percent. As a result IMF estimated that Taiwan’s 2010 Gross Domestic Product – Purchasing Power Parity, GDP-PPP, per capita surpassed that of Finland, France and Japan all at once. The United States Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, writes in The World Factbook that Taiwan in 2010 had a GDP-PPP per capita of US$35,700. This can be compared to Sweden’s GDP-PPP per capita of US$39,100. Today, Taiwan has a dynamic, capitalist, export-driven economy with gradually decreasing state involvement in investment and foreign trade. Exports have provided the primary impetus for
“Taiwan offers highly technological products of exceptional quality that neither Europe nor the United States can compete with.” tion, reported a net income of US$1.74 billion for the first three fiscal quarters of 2011, with the fourth quarter still to come.Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company with a workforce of more than 30,000 employees, who are mostly highly-educated engineers, reported a net income of US $5.13 billion for the fiscal year of 2010. In comparison, Swedish company Volvo AB reported a net income of a mere US$1.63 billion over the same period, which implies Volvo´s entire 2010 earnings were less than what HTC made in the first three quarters of 2011.
industrialisation, and the trade surplus is substantial. Foreign exchange reserves were the world’s fourth largest as of June 4, 2011. An index commonly used to distinguish between developed countries, and those that are not, is the Human Development Index, HDI. The HDI is supposed to be a teller of how big of a possibility every single individual in a society has to make his or her own choices, living life as he or she wants it to be. Let it be the choice between rich and poor, hairdresser and stockbroker, homo- and heterosexual or the simple choice of what you want to wear to work. HDI is therefore a comparative measure of a wide range of attributes, e.g. life expectancy, child welfare and education. According to the HDI, Taiwan is ranked number 18 in the world, above countries such as Austria, Denmark, Italy and the United Kingdom, but below Sweden who is currently ranked 9th place in the world.
Have I enabled you to wrap your mind around just how modern Taiwan really is? Think, for example, about the HTC Desire that laid beside my computer when I sent this in for publication, the D-Link router that provided my Internet while doing research for this article, and the Acer computer I wrote this on. The HTC, D-Link, and Acer headquarters are all located in Taiwan, with their top management teams in Taiwan, and these companies do earn billions every year. Taiwan offers a great diversity of products, and even though their white-collar wage levels are quite similar they offer highly technological products of exceptional quality that neither Europe nor the United States can compete with. Yours truly, Robert Ingemarsson
Similar to Sweden, Taiwan is unable to maintain its workforce intensive industries. In order to keep growing, the Taiwanese economy must abandon its labour intensive industries, which cannot compete with China, Vietnam or other sub-developed countries, and keep innovating and investing in information technology. For Taiwan, the threat of outsourcing is even more real than for most European countries due to all these sub-developed countries, with cheap costs of production, in its direct vicinity, which makes it even easier for companies to outsource parts of their organisations. One of Taiwan´s most well-known companies, HTC Corpora1,They are classified as advanced economies by the International Monetary Fund and as high-income economies by the World Bank.
Why Sweden!? Text & photos: Jia-Kai Jhou Former exchange student at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden
When I decided to go to Sweden as an exchange student, many people asked me the same question, “Why? Why do you choose Sweden?” Some people even said, “Why don’t you choose France? It is so romantic!” But the most annoying question was probably, “Why are you going to Switzerland?” Sweden is not often heard in Taiwan, and it takes courage to choose a country that is not familiar. I had a lot of doubts before I went on the exchange. However, I am more than satisfied with my year at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. During my year abroad I experienced a lot of exciting adventures and fun celebrations, met many new friends and got to know the Swedish culture. Here are some reasons for why I highly recommend National ChiaoTung University students to apply for the exchange program at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. Fluent English speakers Language is usually a huge challenge when you study abroad, especially if the mother tongue is not English. However, in Sweden it is actually not a big issue. Amazingly, the Swedes speak English fluently. I was very curious why Swedes can speak English so well, and the reasons I heard are as follows; All the Swedes start to study English at an early age. They often watch a lot of American television shows and movies, which are seldom dubbed unless it is for children. Furthermore, much of the music they listen to is in English.
Chalmers international master programs offered in English In most universities in Sweden, undergraduate courses are offered in Swedish, while graduate and PhD courses are offered in English. All the lectures, examinations, and textbooks are then in English. Chalmers is one of the two most famous engineering universities in Sweden. The University’s master programs attract many international students from all over the wo rld. During my time at Chalmers I experienced that there is a huge difference between the teaching style in Sweden and that in Taiwan and some of them will be presented here. More interactive and inspiring teaching style It is very important that everyone is equal in Sweden and you can therefore call the professor by his or her first name. I was not used to that in the beginning and I called one of the lecturers Professor, but then he said, “This is Sweden, just call me Magnus.” Lecturers in Taiwan have very high authority, and students just listen to the lecturer in silence. In Sweden, lecturers like to have a discussion with the students. Sometimes it feels like the lecturer and the students are learning from each other. Group assignments with group members from different countries Compared to Taiwan, where the students mostly have individual homework, students in Sweden often have group assignments to practice collaboration skills. The number of teacher
“It is an amazing society that we can learn a lot from.”
led classes is relatively few in the graduate programmes in order to give the students time to meet and discuss group assignments and projects. Lecturers usually put Swedish students and international students in the same group in order to encourage people to practice their English and enrich the brainstorming by blending people with varying views and different cultural backgrounds. Usually Asians are not very used to group discussions and we are more conservative, shy, and used to individual work. I got the impression that European students are more experienced, and they express themselves very well. In the beginning I only listened, but after I got used to this way of studying I had more courage to speak my opinion. Cooperation with companies Chalmers has good cooperation with numerous companies and often invite guest lecturers from the industry. I took a course called Creating New Business, which included a project where we helped a company to find potential customers for their new product. It was a fun and valuable experience to work with a project in reality. The company was satisfied with our ideas and even paid us for our work. Free Swedish course with summer activities Chalmers offers NCTU exchange students a three week free Swedish course at Folkuniversitetet. Besides the studies many summer activities are held, such as canoeing, playing the outdoor game called kubb, going to the archipelagos and joining the culture festival. They even have special activities for NCTU exchange students, such as visiting the VOLVO museum and going to Liseberg, the biggest amusement park in Northern Europe. The language course offers you a great chance to get to know Gothenburg and Sweden better. Amazing nature Sweden is a large country compared to Taiwan. However, the Swedish population is only 9.1 million. You can easily experience a vast variety of nature as a lot of the nature is preserved. Due to the law called Allemansrätten, The Right of Public Access, it is easy to access and explore the nature. This law gives people the right to go out in the forest to pick berries and mushrooms, even if it grows within private land. Many Swedish families own a summer house where they can go to enjoy the sun and the nature. During my time in Sweden, I was invited to a summer house, where I row the boat, saw a beaver nest and an ant hill. I even had the opportunity to visit Kiruna, a city lo-
cated inside the Arctic Circle, on a trip organized by Chalmers International Reception Committee, CIRC, which is similar to Student Ambassador Association, SAA, at NCTU. CIRC arranges many events for international students. During the trip there were a lot of activities. I saw the northern lights three times. The green lights are like silk ribbons waving in the sky, which is unbelievably beautiful! I also went to the underground iron mine, met the aborigine called Sami, ate reindeer-soup and fed reindeer, rode dogsled and snow bike, and visited the Ice Hotel. Admirable society in Northern Europe In Sweden, regardless of your gender, ethnicity and sexuality, everyone is equal and there is almost no discrimination. For example, male and females have the same right to take day off to take care of their children. There are many special designs for handicapped people so that they can live a normal life. People trust each other as well as the government and there is almost no corruption. Everything is transparent and the government is monitored. In 1995, a Swedish politician called Mona Sahlin bought two Toblerone chocolate bars and other personal stuff, using her credit card with the taxpayers’ money. She repaid it afterwards. However, this is not acceptable and she lost the opportunity to become the candidate of Prime Minister. If you come to Sweden, you will find it is an amazing society that we can learn a lot from. NCTU Europe Office Both Chalmers and NCTU have an office located at the other university. The offices are run by the exchange students, so I worked at the NCTU Europe Office and arranged activities for Chalmers students to promote NCTU as well as Taiwan during my time at Chalmers. This was a great opportunity to learn how to run an office and cooperate with other members. I had a great time in Sweden, and today I have many answers when people ask me why I chose to study there. If you want to have lots of special experience and stories to tell, or if you want to have an education of high quality, Chalmers in Sweden is a very good option. I am glad that I had the opportunity to study at Chalmers and for all the memories that I gained during my year abroad.Although I fell down on icy roads six times one night in winter, I think that choosing Sweden is one of my best decisions in my life!
International Enterprise Singapore Helping Singaporean Companies Expand Overseas Text: Sara Thunström, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Photos: Peter Sommer and Eva Olsson, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Singapore has experienced a significant economic growth over the past years and is now one of the most developed countries in the Asian-Pacific region. How did Singapore become as successful as it is today and how could it grow so fast? It can be argued that the answer lies within Singapore’s ability to promote international trade and to make Singapore-based companies grow overseas. The organisation International Enterprise Singapore, further on denoted as IES, is a tool the Singaporean government is using to achieve this. IES is a commerce union that has helped several Singaporean companies to expand their businesses abroad through various programs. Singapore’s international rela-
tions and its efficiency in expanding its businesses have contributed to the country’s rapid growth and wealth. The recipe for IES’s success is their 3C framework that stands for connection, competency and capital. In the 3C framework, connection represents the network that IES has developed abroad, including both business contacts and governmental connections. Competency represents the wide range of programs and training opportunities that IES offers to companies wanting to expand their businesses. Through IES the companies have access to the latest market reports and industry information. IES also offer capital, which means that they can offer tax incentives, grants and other economic assistance in order for the companies to build a sustainable financial plan and management capabilities.
A large part of IES’s success is due to the International Partners, iPartners, Program. The concept builds on taking a Singaporean-based company, denoted the anchor company, which already has business or operations overseas. IES finds a few smaller Singaporean companies, referred to as alliance partners, which want to expand into the same geographical location as the anchor company. This alliance is established in order to create synergies. The anchor company can help the alliance partners with access to the market through, for example, brand name, contacts or distribution network. In that way, the alliance companies’ products can be integrated with the anchor company’s product line, in the overseas market. The alliance company on the other hand, provides the anchor company with specialist capabilities that does not exist internally in the anchor company. During the iPartners program all involved companies receive guidance from an IES Business Development Manager who makes sure that objectives and targets are met. An example of a strategic iPartners project by IES was to create the Singapore Biomedical R&D consortium in order to help Singaporean-based companies reach their full potential overseas. The consortium was created with the intent of stimulating the R&D within Singapore due to the growth potential of this market. Singapore has over 100 pharmaceutical companies and contract research organisations, which offered several different ways of creating the consortium. The anchor company chosen for the consortium was Singapore Clinical Research Institute. The consortium also consisted of six smaller companies with various R&D experience and skills. The skills were thought out to complement each other and represent every step of the R&D value chain, which would give the involved companies a collective competitive advantage. IES also has many projects outside of the iPartners program. During the past years, several enterprises have expanded abroad with expertise and guidance from IES through various programs. Many of these enterprises have expanded to Asian markets such as China. However, an example of a company that instead chose to focus on the African market is Simba-Link.
which at that time was one of the poorest countries in Africa. A few years later, she gradually expanded her business to other parts of Africa. Ms Lee states that her choice of establishing a business in Africa instead of Asia was because she felt that the African market would be less competitive than the Asian. Doing business in Africa is likely to scare many Singaporean companies due to civil wars and political instability. Ms Lee says that in order to do business in Africa you need a great deal of patience and tolerance because you are likely to encounter problems. To solve them, it is important to have established local relationships and not only rely on connections with the home country. Despite this, Ms Lee has not regretted her choice of expanding in to Africa. It remains to be seen what will happen with Singapore’s growth abroad. However, Singapore is recovering from the recession in 2008, has several universities with talented students from all over the world as well as management expertise from years of being a global business hub. With this as background, Singapore has the resources it needs to continue to bloom both in Asia, and in the world economy as a whole.
Singaporean Leona Lee runs Simba-Link, a company that produces fast moving consumer goods at reasonable prices. In 1997, she expanded her Singaporean company in to Ethiopia,
Chalmers International Taiwan Office
– Part of Chalmers’ World Wide Exchange Programme The economies in East Asia have showed a remarkable devel-
mers International Taiwan Office, CITO. The work at CITO in-
opment during the end of the 20th century. Japan has become
cludes arranging representation events for Taiwanese students
accompanied by China among the world’s economic giants. The
at NCTU as well as visiting companies and representing Chalm-
region is interesting, dynamic and challenging. Among those with
ers throughout East Asia.
technical education, an increasing portion will have contacts in the whole region from Singapore to Japan within their profes-
Contents of the Programme:
sions. With this in mind, Chalmers has developed a special ex-
– Intensive course in Mandarin, 6 weeks in July - August at
change programme based in Taiwan, giving students an opportunity to study in and gain experiences from these economies. The exchange programme is located at the National Chiao Tung University (NCTU), which is the foremost technological university in Taiwan. NCTU is specially profiled within electronics and information technology. However, in cooperation with the
NCTU in Hisnchu, Taiwan. – Full academic year of engineering or architect studies at NCTU. – Maintenance of the Chalmers International Taiwan Office at NCTU. – Company visits throughout East Asia.
neighbouring National Tsing Hua University, the exchange covers all engineering programmes at Chalmers. Courses held in both English and Mandarin can be chosen. Parallel to the studies at NCTU the students maintain the Chal32
For more information on how to apply, please visit www.chalmers.se
CHALMERS IN ASIA Studying at Chalmers does not limit you to Gothenburg, Sweden. Through many exchange programs Chalmers students are given the opportunity to study at a range of Asian universities. Likewise, students from many different countries are invited to study at Chalmers in Sweden.
Sendai, Japan Tohoku University Tokyo, Japan Tokyo Institute of Technology Seoul, South Korea Konkuk University
Shanghai, China East China University of Science and Technology Hsinchu, Taiwan National Chiao Tung University
Hong Kong, China The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Singapore Nanyang Technological University The National University of Singapore
Chalmers University of Technology
SE-412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden Phone +46 31 772 1000 www.chalmers.se
Published on Jan 30, 2014