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I stayed abroad via: Fonds Studiepunten Buiten Nederland Name and surname: Erwin Rossen E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org Department: Applied physics Contact person TU/e: P.A. Bobbert Subject of your studies/practical training abroad: Polymer LED Period of stay: 25th October 2005 - 24th February 2006 Name institution/company abroad: National Chiao Tung University (http://www.nctu.edu.tw, http://www.phys.nctu.edu.tw) City and country: Hsinchu, Taiwan R.O.C. 1. Preparation and financial matters I asked my professor, Peter Bobbert, if he could help me finding a place to take my internship. I told him what I was looking for, including that I wanted to go abroad. After a first failed attempt at Cambridge, he brought me into contact with a Taiwanese professor, Hsin-Fei Meng. I sent this professor an e-mail to ask if it was possible to take my internship in his group and he was immediately enthusiastic about it. He sent me some information about what they were researching there and let me pick a subject. For the paper work, he referred me to the secretary of their group. She answered all my questions I had. For instance, she warned me not to apply for a visa for the People's Republic of China, but for the Republic of China, which is the official name of Taiwan. I was in Geneva at that time, and there was an unofficial embassy in Geneva, so I just walked in there and applied for a visa there. You need a passport that is valid for more than 6 months, an invitation letter, an address in Taiwan (I gave them the address of my university) and an itinerary of an outbound airplane ticket, so you first have to book your flight. They also arranged that I be picked up by car from the airport in Taipei by one of the students. Three parties have financed my trip, excluding myself. The NCTU paid me 6,000 NTD per month in cash, the Polymer group of the TU/e paid me 1,500 euros and I applied for money at the FSBN, which is ~300 euros. I forgot to hand in my OV student card, but you can also get money from IBG if you do this. An airplane ticket from Amsterdam to Taipei is expensive. I paid 1,100 euros for a two-way ticket. I learned later however that it was cheaper to fly from Düsseldorf, Brussels or even from London and to Hong Kong instead of Taipei directly. Flights from Eindhoven to London are very cheap, and flights from Hong Kong to Taipei are also quite cheap (I went back to Taiwan from Hong Kong, and paid 175 euros for a two way ticket). Driving to Düsseldorf or Brussels might even be faster than driving to Amsterdam. So if you fly to Taiwan, have a look for flights Brussels-Hong Kong, Düsseldorf-Hong Kong and London-Hong Kong and take he cheapest Hong Kong-Taipei (or Hong Kong-Kaohsiung if you need to be in the South of Taiwan). Taiwan is a cheap country compared to The Netherlands. Especially food and tourist stuff is cheap. A meal in a restaurant cost typically 60 NTD (~1.50 euro). The most expensive tourist thing I did was 320 NTD for going up the Taipei 101, world's highest building (at this moment). 2. Accommodation I was quite lucky with my accommodation. The secretary was about to book the hostel on the university campus for me, which would have cost me ~20,000 NTD (~500 euros) per month, when I received an e-mail from a student in the group that his roommate moved out at the end of October and that I could move in with him. That cost me ~7,000 NTD per month, for a large private bedroom, a private bathroom and a shared living room, kitchen and laundry machine. 3. Language and culture The people in Taiwan live a little bit different than we're used to, although they are more Western- minded than some people may expect. They especially embrace everything that is American. They only understand you if you speak English with an American accent and you find more Burger Kings, Starbucks Coffees and other American stores than in Europe. The language in Taiwan is Chinese (Mandarin). There is a Taiwanese language, which is spoken by the original inhabitants, but most people came from China in 1949 (read the history) or are their offspring. They can speak Taiwanese, but they don't. Mandarin however is very difficult to learn, and after four months there, I still only know a few words and very simple sentences. It is not impossible to learn though; I didn't put too much trouble in it for the three months that I would have been there. But prepare for some sounds which a Western mouth and throat cannot produce. It's fun to teach them Dutch too: they can't speak a 'g' or an 'r'. Students speak limited English, but outside university it's worse: store and restaurant owners don't speak any English and you need your three words of Chinese and both hands to make clear what you want. In Taiwan it is always warm weather. I was there in wintertime (Oct. - Feb.) and the coldest weather that I have seen in Taiwan was 15 degrees. In summer time it can be very hot and humid (35 degrees) and there are also a lot of typhoons in Taiwan, but not in wintertime, so I didn't experience any. Don't pack too many thick sweaters! Because it is always good weather, the people are more on the streets. The stores don't close at 6 o'clock, but remain open, often until 11 or 12 o'clock in the night. There are many so-called night markets, where there are a lot of food market stalls and clothing- and accessories market stalls. They are very crowded when it's dark (before 6 in winter), and a very nice place to be. Taiwanese people don't cook for themselves; neither do they eat bread (although there are some bakeries in the streets, but it's not common). Three times a day you go eating in a restaurant, comparable to our snack bars, where they sell Chinese food: rice, noodles and dumplings. There are a lot of varieties in what you can eat, and you get meat, fish, mushrooms, fruit and vegetables that you have never seen or heard of before. There are many supermarkets in every city, town and village that are open 24/7. 4. Free time and travelling Going out like we know it, is not done in Taiwan. They don't go to bars, or drink any alcohol. Their way of celebrating a party is to have a luxurious dinner, watch a movie (they have American movies, they don't dub), or go to KTV, a place where you can rent rooms with a karaoke set. I lived in Hsinchu, a city comparable to Eindhoven, which means there was nothing to do. In the weekends, most fellow students went either back to their parents or spent a lot of time studying. A bus trip to Taipei cost 85 NTD and took a little bit more than one hour, so almost every weekend I went to Taipei to stay in a very cheap, but still good hostel there (Taiwanmex, email@example.com). There I visited a lot of tourist things, which would be boring to tell about. Taiwanese students work hard. University students work least hard of all of them however, but still they make more hours than most Dutch students. They didn't expect me to put so many hours into it though, but I didn't want to be the lazy one who did less than the rest. We also had a meeting two times a week (unfortunately in Chinese), which took places in the evening hours. For traveling around the city, I bought a new Giant bike for 3,000 NTD (~75 euros), which I sold after three months for 2,000 NTD to a fellow student. In Taiwan, everybody rides a scooter though, and when I went to a place with my fellow students or with a Taiwanese girl that I've met there, I sat on the back of their scooter. In the last month, I also rode a scooter myself sometimes. For traveling around the island, there are several options. I took the train from Taipei to Hualien to see the East Coast of Taiwan (The National Park near Hualien is really a place to see) and rented a scooter there. I also went to the South of Taiwan. The very South of Taiwan is called Kenting, and it is really beautiful too, but it's a far bus trip from Hsinchu. I went there from Kaohsiung, where my travel companion's parents lived, so my trip was broken into two. I also visited Hong Kong and Beijing while I was in Asia. This however has not much to do with my trip to Taiwan and I don't know what one could learn from it if I tell about it. 5. Contents of project abroad I was working in the Nano Facility Center at the National Chiao Tung University in Hsinchu. There is a clean room with equipment to make polymer LEDs. It was a very modern and new laboratory. I worked together with a fellow student, Wei Shan Lee, and we made triplet emitter PLEDs. Our goal was to see if incorporating TPD into a Ir(mppy)3 : PVK : PBD blend would lead to better results, to see if this blend is hole or electron dominated and to look for new ways to produce thin CsF layers. For details I refer to my report, which you can ask me to send a digital copy. 6. Best experience My best experience is something personal. I went to Taiwan as a single; I came back with a girlfriend. I think this has little to do with the country, just with two people falling in love, so I won't elaborate on it. Other good experiences are the friendliness of the Taiwanese people and the vivid streets in the evening hours. I have traveled around Europe quite a lot and found out that most European people are friendlier than the average Dutch commoner. But nowhere are they as friendly as in Taiwan. Everyone walks around with a smile on his face, everybody at least tries to help you if you have a question and I didn't see any aggressiveness in the four months. I think the Dutch people can learn something from that. About the street life I've already written about. 7. Worst experience Bad experiences were rare during my stay. One of my worse experiences was my visa extension. You can only apply for a 60 days visa when you're outside Taiwan and you have to ask for extension at the local police when you are there. In order to get an extension I needed to be an official student, and to become an official student I needed to either pursue a degree at that particular university or come from a university with official connections to that university. TU/e didn't have any official connections, so I couldn't become an official student and I couldn't get an extension. My backup plan was to make a visa run to Hong Kong and back to apply for a new visa there. Luckily one of my fellow students helped me and after many tries in Hsinchu, he phoned the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei, where they said that I didn't need to be an official student. Two trips to Taipei later was my extension a fact. I started one month before the expiration date applying for extension; I got it four days before the expiration date.