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  • Writer's pictureMaria Vandenburg

The final countdown: A Week in Taiwan

Updated: Feb 22

Bringing "items I have learned today" back for this particular entry as I was surrounded by my some of my loves and picked a few gems:

Cooking on gas: on fire

Cozy: Bathing Suit

Wet Lettuce: was clarified with being a "drip" which I still didn't understand and was clarified to then be pathetic

I have spent the last two weeks in four different places. I started in Utah for a Project Management team gathering, then went home to Seattle for a few days, traveled to London for 24 hours to then go to Taipei, Taiwan to close out the final module for my MBA program: My international board experience.

Meeting with Kdan Mobile
Meeting with Kdan Mobile

I am now back in London where I have had the joy of waking up at 2:00am (and then 5:00am) the last two nights in row. Needless to say, my body clock (and frankly my body) doesn't quite know what to do with itself.

Last week found me exploring Taipei with the 16 other people in my Executive MBA program. The trip was incredible, not just in terms of experiencing a new country, culture and space, but also being able to spend a significant amount of quality time with these people in my MBA program who have become my family.

Pre-Meeting in the Airport Lounge
Pre-Meeting in the Airport Lounge

Saturday was a day of travel which started with us meeting at the airport lounge in Gatwick. After a 14 hour flight, where I attempted to sleep for an hour but mainly ended up journaling and "resting my eyes," we arrived at the Howard Plaza hotel. After a quick pop out to eat (and possibly sing for a minute at a kareoke bar that was just a few blocks away from the hotel) it was off to sleep for the action-packed four days that stood ahead of us.

Monday brought us an initial meeting with KPMG and the client followed by a tour of Taipei. We visited the Chiang Kai-Shek memorial to watch the changing of the guard. Also worth noting is that we were there the day before Tianamen Square. The energy was a bit intense, it was a bit insane to realise that we were in Taiwan at the exact same time.

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial

I was feeling exhausted, stop two was a Chinese Garden and a visit to the Presidents office. I remember looking over at the trees and saying but "it's just that" somewhat dejectedly, to which Rachel, who has become one of my soul sisters said "Maria, give it a chance!" I left the car, wondered through the garden and was so happy I did. There was an ancient tree there that seemed to immediately lift my energy.

Next up was the temple which was honestly one of my favorites. There was a chanting service going on and I was able to "commune with the divine" by picking up these stones, announcing my name, birthday and address and asking for permission to ask a question. I received a yes, picked up a stick with a number and walked away with a poem that I am still working on translating and processing. The question I won't share here, but the answer was that "something new might come in but it's not what it appears and isn't necessary good for you. Though you might be in pain right now, let it heal, let it be, and hold on to what you have" which ties in quite nicely with my current mantra of "hold the vision, trust the process." Although, I am not Buddhist, it was still also a pretty unique experience to be surrounding by those that were as they were honouring what they believed in.

Tuesday we had the morning to work on our projects, as ultimately the reason we were in Taiwan was to meet with the Taiwanese company Kdan Mobile and present them with an international expansion plan on their newest app "Dotted Sign" - which is a digital signature product. The afternoon brought us to a tea plantation tour, where we learned how to be tea masters and took a hike through the plantation. That evening, the jet lag got the best of me and I had an early evening.

Wednesday, we took the fast train to another Kdan office and met with the product and marketing teams. We arrived back to take a foodie tour. I tried everything in front of me, including "stinky tofu" - it tasted a bit better than it smells, but I can't say that I have the burning desire to ever try it again. That evening I wandered the night market in search of a new journal and again headed back to the hotel.

Thursday morning brought us to our initial presentations to the CEO of Kdan. I was very impressed with my teams ability to pull through on this. With previous modules we had a few weeks (at least) of prep, in this case, we had a few days. I am in the Marketing and Ops role for this final module and spoke of the importance of trust, using this quote:

"There are just a few elemental forces that hold our world together. The one that’s the glue of society is called trust. Its presence cements relationships by allowing people to live and work together, feel safe and belong to a group."

That resonated with the client and has now become the overarching theme of our final report. The final 24 hours resulted in us all just spending time together, going out for dinner at a Hot Pot restaurant where we cooked our own food and closing it all down in the place where the trip began - the kareoke bar.

I loved Taiwan. I loved being surrounded by something new, but most of all I loved being with people who have all touched my life in one way or another.

Now I am back in London, wide awake at 3:00am and working on putting together the initial marketing plan of our final report. The next few weeks I will be in London to wrap this paper up and I'll return to Seattle at the end of the month to write my final dissertation and get a few other separate projects over the line.

Life has been a bit insane recently, lots of transformation, lots of working on letting go of the old to allow for the new, and most importantly lots more to come, starting with this final board experience and paper.

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I'll love you forever... well I will probably do that anyway but still <3



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