Richard was in Taiwan at the same time as a number of other Asia New Zealand Foundation business interns
I’m no stranger to Taiwan. Both my parents are Taiwanese, my extended relatives all live in Taipei, and I get to visit the county every few years. However, the internship allowed me to step foot into the country not as a tourist but rather a worker at the country’s most renowned technology research centre.
My internship was at the International Centre at ITRI. The purpose of the centre is to support all of ITRI's research departments and make sure they all have access to this technology, no matter where in the world they are.
With 7,000 employees at the Hsinchu Zhudong campus alone, the world can feel like a much bigger place. However, having this many employees comes with many benefits.
There are departments dedicated to supporting and servicing staff in almost all areas I could imagine, from the IT helpdesk to the YoHo Club, which has all sporting facilities and activities within a minute’s walk of the dorm.
The people working at ITRI are also very easy going. Everyone shows a friendly face, especially to employees from overseas, as it is a great chance for them to learn about different cultures.
The Hsinchu campus was located on the outskirts of the city, 40 minutes away from the city centre by bus. It might be some distance, but it also meant that I could always take a nice nap after work on the bus before heading into town for some activities. However, most days I stayed on campus to work out or to just relax and watch the sunset from the rooftop
Being a New Zealander meant that I could focus on market research for Australasia, which was fitting for me as I had completed my university degree in business, and understand the SME/Start-up workplace.
A brand new project was launched when I arrived at the research centre, so the first few weeks I worked there was new territory not only for me but for everyone there. However, after a few meetings with the director, we managed to find our course and the research began!
Most my co-workers spoke English; however, I had always wanted to use this internship as a chance to improve my Chinese speaking abilities. Halfway through my internship, I already felt that I had become a lot more fluent in striking up conversations and having discussions based around my work.
Exploring Taiwan's mountainous east coast was a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of city life
Hsinchu is located about an hour’s drive from Taipei, making it a very good location to travel both down south and up north.
Almost every weekend I had travelled to Taipei or some other city to visit. Bus fares were quite cheap in comparison to the high speed rail, which helped me budget my expenses for the weekly excursions.
Trying to understand the country from a cultural perspective and speaking to the locals definitely changed my previous perspective of Taiwan. This experience has provided me with an understanding of my roots that I previously couldn’t explore as a tourist, and has helped me understand a little bit more about Taiwan, my family and myself.