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Research Centre for East Asian Studies Groningen Blogs and Postcards

NAHSS experience

I look back at my NAHSS experience with joy but also respect. The experience itself can best be described as a pressure cooker on a rollercoaster. That sounds weird, I know, but it is the best metaphor I found. But first let me start by explaining what the NAHSS is. All the official info you can of course find on, but in short: 100 students are selected per year by the Dutch Universities and large Dutch & Chinese multinationals to follow a program in the Netherlands and in East Asia. This program basically consists of three main parts, a summer school in East Asia, a consultancy research project for a NAHSS sponsor, and company visits in Asia.

These parts are what I expected, but it turned out to be vastly more. You have to realize that the 100 students come from vastly different study backgrounds, with diverse interests, but they all excel at their studies and many partake in a broad range of extracurricular activities as well. This work hard, play hard attitude together with the mixed backgrounds makes for a melting pot full of ambitious young active students, and in my eyes is the biggest long lasting effect of the NAHSS. This effect is increased due to the rollercoaster experience in Asia.

My time with the NAHSS in Asia can be summed up as follows. The first six weeks we studied in Hong Kong with 30 fellow NAHSS’ers, which means class three days a week the whole day, because you have a morning and a afternoon class. Of course studying for exams was part of this. Next to that you have the research project you do for a NAHSS partner with nine fellow students. So in Hong Kong there were three research groups working on their projects. Don’t forget that you are also visiting companies such as ABN AMRO (located in the highest building of Hong Kong, amazing views), KPMG, OMA, you name it.

Being in Hong Kong doesn’t just mean sitting in class or doing cases at companies all the time. We were actually living there for two whole months with 29 others that have become friends in the process. The city is so much more than the crowded central district, over 50% of it is actually covered by nature and jungle. We partook in many hikes, swam in waterfalls, visited temples, hired a large boat to party and island hop, visit extravagant nightclubs and ate local delicacies. I even camped on an uninhabited beach, with no one around, while still being in the territory of one of the most densely populated cities on earth. All in all, a very busy, but tremendously fun time.

The final ten days you go to Shanghai to finalize your research, meet with the NAHSS groups that studied and lived in different cities, and visit more companies and experience traditional Chinese culture. We learnt that the Hong Kong experience is vastly different from the Chengdu experience, which is different from the Taiwan experience again.

To sum it up, yes the NAHSS provides great opportunities for discovering and engaging with career prospects and will provide a valuable network of ambitious high-achieving students and links to interesting corporate internships and traineeships. However, it is more than that, it brings motivated people from different backgrounds together to experience the way that Asia is developing, sometimes even already surpassing the West. The sharing of this experience with like-minded but very different people creates a memory for life.

Last modified:07 December 2016 10.37 a.m.