Our first day was packed with tours and site-seeing. We received a rundown of the entire Taiwan experience as well as pointers and tips. We took a tour of the National Palace Museum and also went to the Taipei 101 Observatory. Both places were absolutely stunning and the information we received was fantastic. In Taipei, we were using public transportation or our feet. Even after going to only two or three places we were exhausted. In the days that followed, we attended several lectures on the Taiwanese economy and the booming business sector in Taiwan at the National Taipei Public University. We also visited the Tarako Gorge and the Tarako National Park in eastern Taiwan. At the park, I and three other participants climbed a hundred stairs to get to a temple in the mountains. It was breathtaking. On the last day of our trip, we went to visit the Bunun Tribe and the Kuanfu sugar plant. The day we headed back to Taipei, we were exhausted from three days of nonstop adventures.
Being a business student, I observed the marketing strategies all around me. The advertising was nothing like I had seen before. What I noticed was the use of bright colors in most of the advertisements, the cartoon-like mascots for practically everything (especially electronics), and their emphasis on the youth as spokespeople for some items. Because Taiwan is a leader in technology innovation and production, I saw a large variety of computers, cell phones, PDAs, etc. One unique aspect was the amount of customization available.
The next day, we were off to the airport to fly to Osaka, Japan. Here, we were staying in Hikone where the Japanese Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU) is located. We attended a Survival Japanese class where each one of us was called on to answer a Japanese question in Japanese; the experience was full of laughs and embarrassment. The next day, we went on a day trip to Kyoto. We visited Nijojo and the United Nations World Heritage Site and we went to Kinkakuji. That night, we went to Gion Corner where we saw geishas and I was part of a tea ceremony, which was very cool. We were also part of the JCMU 20th Anniversary celebration where we met a lot of students and were exposed to many different cultural things. We also took a day trip to Nagoya where we took a tour of a Toyota plant. On our last day, we visited Hikone castle and attended a lecture on Japanese culture and history.
I am amazed at the experiences I had, the people I met, and the things I took back. Truly a lifetime experience.