Discovering my heritage during the Global Immersion Program #Lifeasaninternational
By Andre Tjahyana, Full-time MSc student specializing in International Management
Andre Tjahyana, Full-time MSc student, shares his experience connecting with his roots during the Global Immersion Program in China last May.
''Last May we had a Global Immersion program that offered a choice of various developing countries around the globe, including China, South Africa, Uruguay and Russia. I chose to go to China because of both its growing influence in International Business and my personal connection with the country.
China; cultural powerhouse
Over the past decade, China has grown into a global economic and cultural powerhouse. We were already aware of this fact, but the extent of it became apparent when we experienced it ourselves. The infrastructure and lifestyle in China are already on par with, if not even more advanced than what I see in developed nations such as Japan, South Korea, and most European countries.
Classrooms and business visits
Over the course of the week, we spent the mornings participating in lectures with Renmin University to learn more about the macroeconomic and cultural elements impacting businesses in China. Then in the afternoons we visited various institutions such as the Dutch Embassy in Beijing, Fokker factory and Y-Pay. This gave us a first-hand look at how various businesses operate, and allowed us to gain insights from their top management leaders. Both the classroom sessions and on-site visits provided us with valuable knowledge on doing business in China. Some entrepreneurs even shared their keys to success or their initial failures. After intensive days, we usually spent the evening with Nyenrode’s philosophy “Work Hard, Play Hard” in mind, exploring what Beijing has to offer.
Reconnecting with China
The trip was also culturally significant to me, as I have a personal connection to the country. My grandfather was originally from Beijing and so were most of my ancestors, but I had never been there before. So, the trip was a way for me to reconnect with my heritage as well. I learned a lot about the culture through the interactions I had with Chinese students from Renmin and locals in the area. We interacted with numerous locals while we tried to navigate through the city with help from our Nyenrodean Chinese speakers. The funny thing is that the local shopkeepers and taxi drivers are usually stern towards strangers, but the moment I tried to talk to them using my broken Chinese, they suddenly became kinder and more interested in me.
The importance of cultural understanding
In the end, we had an unforgettable trip with a range of insights into how we should manage international business and cooperation with foreign companies. It also gave us a deeper appreciation for the importance of cultural understanding in a business context. Last but not least, we had an incredible time throughout the whole program.''