Saturday, July 1, 2017

Falling in love with Japan

Everyone has heard of the "Land of the Rising Sun”. A country of advanced technology, rich traditions and the most polite people in the world! Some people have had the chance to visit this mesmerizing place. But I have had the opportunity to live and have my study abroad in Japan. For almost 4 months I have been living in Tokyo as an exchange student in Sophia University. This has been one of the most wonderful chapters in my life – my dream becoming a reality.

One of the main reasons I chose to study "Trade Management for Asia" back in the Netherlands was to go to Japan. In 2011, I had the chance to visit Japan for 2 months for a summer language program. I fell in love with this country and I needed more! So after 3 years of classes in the Netherlands, here I am in Tokyo.

Currently, I study in Sophia University – the first Catholic university in Japan. Funny enough my home city is also called Sofia (Bulgaria) so many people here enjoy this fact. I met many new friends from all over the world – Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, USA, Spain, the Philippines and Thailand. Living in an international dorm helped me expand my network but also create long-lasting relationships. In the beginning of the exchange, it was very interesting to explore Tokyo together, finding our way to the final destination and getting acquainted to the Japanese culture. One of my favorite examples is when we had to meet at one of the biggest train stations in the world – Shinjuku. This is one of the biggest mistakes – we were looking for each other for 2 hours simply because the station has over 200 exits. Some of my friends have had similar experience which lasted for 4 hours. So my advice to everyone who wants to meet at Shinjuku would be: Don’t do it!

In the past months I also made a lot of Japanese friends. My most favorite aspect is that if I know one Japanese person, he or she will introduce me to their friends. One of the best places to make new friends in Sophia University is the cafeteria, during lunch time – every week I get introduced to at least two new people. I also joined the boxing circle. I decided to try something new since I had started a new chapter in my life. It is hilarious when my senpai (another student who is more experienced than me) wants to explain me boxing in Japanese. I found out how to develop my linguistic and physical skills at the same time. (Thank you body language!) During my stay in Japan, I try to expand my network as much as possible. I visited other universities and participated in business seminars. I met young entrepreneurs, people who have international experience, and, of course, I made many new friends.  My stay in Japan has been filled with lots of unforgettable memories, funny stories and life lessons.

The life in Tokyo for me has been simple – study, meet my friends and travel. During the week, the time passes by studying Japanese, preparing for my other classes and sharing experiences with my friends. Every weekend I try to travel as much as possible. The last time I was in Japan I didn’t have the chance to explore so much. But this time I wanted to make it the time of my life. I visited many places around Tokyo – I climbed a mountain in Nagano, visited beautiful places such as Chiba and Yokosuka, went to the biggest Chinese market in the world in Yokohama. I also had many “first” experiences – relaxing in an "onsen" (traditional Japanese bath), eating all kinds of raw food (fish, squid, octopus, even horse), visiting an aquarium, travelling with a no-machinist train but also get pushed in a train (in rush hour is quite ‘packed’), and singing karaoke. Also, for the first time, I haven’t met another Bulgarian for almost 4 months. However, when Japanese people find out where I come from, they become quite interested and excited. One of the reasons is because the most famous yoghurt in Japan is called “Bulgarian yoghurt” and two popular sumo players are Bulgarian. It is very heart-warming to see how many people want to know more about Bulgaria.

During my exchange in Japan, I have experienced and learnt a lot. Studying here gave me new opportunities such as expanding my business and personal network but also improve my Japanese language skills. I am happy that I made so many new friendships and found out something exciting about different cultures. Japan has offered me many ‘first’ experiences which enriched my stay here. Unfortunately, I am leaving soon and the thought brings sadness but also a warm feeling. Japan was great to me and I am really grateful to all my friends here. But I am pretty sure I will come back some day! And next time will be even better!

About the author: Polina Arabadzhieva is 3rd year Bachelor student Trade Management for Asia at the Rotterdam Business School 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

UNCTAD Investment Policy Monitor

In the March 2017 issue of its Investment Policy Monitor, UNCTAD reports that, during the review period (October 2016-February 2017), several countries took noteworthy investment policy measures at a national level. Among them are the issuance of a comprehensive circular to attract foreign investment in China. Another important featrure was new privatisation measures in France, Greece, South-Korea, The Netherlands and the Russian Federation. On the other hand, Indonesia introduced a foreign ownership limit on electronic payment service firms.

The universe of international investment agreements (IIAs) is expanding, as countries continue to sign and negotiate new IIAs, including megaregional initiatives. During the reporting period, countries concluded 11 bilateral investment treaties and 2 treaties with investment provisions, bringing the total of IIAs to over 3,300.


Entry/Establishment of investment 

18 countries - Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, (South-) Korea, Myanmar, the Netherlands, Romania, Russian Federation, United States of America, Uzbekistan ad Viet Nam -adopted new policy measures relating to the entry and establishment of foreign investors. The majority of them relaxed restrictions on foreign ownership or opened up new business opportunities.

Among the most noteworthy investment liberalisation measures are:

* China issued a circulat setting out the blueprint for its policies on attracting foreign investment. Inter alia, the Government decided to revise the "Catalogue for the Guidance of Foreign Investment industries", and to further open various industries.

* The Central Bank of India amended regulations in order to further liberalise and rationalise the investment regime for foreign venture capital investors and to encourage foreign investment in startups.

New regulatory or restrictive investment-related policy measures included:

* Indonesia imposed a 20% limit on foreign ownership in companies that offer electronic payment services

* The United States prohibited the acquisition of a U.S. subsidiary of Aixtron by a Chinese company on the basis of national security concerns.

Treatment of established investment 

10 countries - Argentina, China, Colombia, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Myanmar, Poland and Romania - took measures with respect to the treatment of investors after establishment in the host country. For example:

* Indonesia increased the minimum local content requirement for domestically-produced 4G smartphones that are sold in the Indonesian market from 20% to 30%.

* Myanmar revoked the ceiling on the amount of funds that foreign-local joint venture trading firms can use in their operations. This removes the obligation to register any additional amounts of foreign currency required for investment purposes.


International investment agreements (IIAs) signed

During the reporting period, 11 bilateral investment treaties (BITs) were signed, including:

* BIT between Nigeria and Singapore (4 November 2016)
* BIT between Chile and Hong Kong SAR (18 November 2016) 
* BIT between Israel and Japan (1 February 2017) 

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

On 1-10 December 2016, the 16th round of negotiations for RCEPT. involving the 10 members if the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), plus 6 other countries from the region, were held in Tangerang, Indonesia. Discussions focused on trade in goods, trade in services, investment, intellectual property rights, competition and e-commerce. The chapter on Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises was concluded during this round. This is the second chapter to eb concluded since the inclusion of the chapter on Economic and Technical Cooperation at the 15th round in Tianjin, China. The 17th round of RCEP negotiations took place in Kobe, Japan, from 27 February - 3 March 2017.

Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)

On 30 January 2017, the United Stats issued a letter to signatories of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) that it has formally withdrawn from the agreement and that it has no legal obligations arising from its signature on 4 February 2016. The TPP was originally signed between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Viet Nam on 4 February 2016. 

Lima Declaration of the Free Trade Area Asia-Pacific 

On 20 November 2016, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Meeting was held in Lima, Peru, where the Declaration on advancing quality growth and human development was adopted. Annex A to the Declaration, entitled "Lima Declaration on Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP)". encourages the "conclusion of comprehensive and high-quality" regional trade agreements and free trade agreements. 

Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement between the EU and India

On 20 February 2017, EU Parliamentarians visited India to discuss matters cncerning EU-India ties, in particular, India BITs with EU member states, which will cease having effect on 31 March 2017. However, investments made prior to the termination would enjoy continued protection under the sunset clauses of the old BITs. The EU delegation discussed with India the possibility of extending the effective termination dates of the BITs by at least 6 months. Discussions also focused on the negotiations of the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement with India, which have been ongoing since 2007. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Land of a thousand smiles

My name is Danica Djermor and I am a student at the Rotterdam Business School. I study "Trade Management focused on Asia" and I just got back from one year studying in Indonesia. This 4-year course allows you to visit, study and work for one year in the country which you applied for. These countries are all based in Asia and consist of China, Indonesia, Japan, India and Vietnam. During my third and fourth year, I went for my minor 6 months to Jogykarta in Indonesia to follow a semester at the Universitas Atma Jaya, followed by an internship of 6 months on the Indonesian island of Bali at a scooter-rental company. 

The reason I chose Indonesia was because of the fact that my family comes from the Mollucan Islands. This sparked my interest and passion from a young age and I had the urge to know as much as possible about this beautiful and diverse country. I can say it was one of the best years of my life. The challenge to stand on your own as a individual and make important decisions really made me a strong person along this whole journey. 

After a long flight alone to Indonesia, I just realised that I had embarked on a adventure which would have me 1 year from home. I was quite anxious and I have to admit, utterly scared,  to know that it would just be me and I in Indonesia. After a couple of days I became a bit used to the weather and all those people staring at me. Despite me being half Mollucan, I was quite the attraction in the neighbourhood even though Jogyakarta is a big student city and becoming very modern and trendy nowadays. 

School life is very different from that in The Netherlands. People are much more humble and treated with respect. There is also a warm feeling of unity everywhere you go. For example, it is perfectly normal to eat outside with friends or even strangers at their local “warung”; a small restaurant outside where your “mama tua” (female cook) serves you one of the best Indonesian food there is. During this semester I made a lot of friends at the University, among them a lot of Indonesians. I never experienced such a warmth and kindness. They took me to unknown and beautiful places hidden in Java and taught me to appreciate life as it was presented to me. 

Everyday on the scooter back and forth to the University while eating Indonesian snacks became a lifestyle where I found total peace in the chaotic traffic with the ricefields passing by. I was feeling completly at home and classes were fun to do and the people were very friendly and nice. 

After doing my final exams, I moved straight away to Bali to work at my internship the following week. Bali, however, was really different than Java. Tourism had taken hold of the Island and for an instant it took me back to Ibiza or Mallorca. It took me quite a while to get used here. The Balinese were rigid and not welcoming, because of the many tourists consuming and partying without any recognition of their Hindoeist beliefs and traditions. 

Even though the island was very beautiful, everywhere I went it was very crowded and I was more surrounded by tourists than locals. Even at my internship it was hard to be polite to tourists as they were ignorant and a bit arrogant. In the meantime, I picked up some volunteer work at a orphanage and some animal shelters. I felt like I wanted to do something for the community to show my appreciation for them welcoming me and tried to make me feel at home the best they could. In Bali, I saw a lot of beauty, especially on the other Islands and the nothern part of the island. 

The first month I was in Bali I went to some temples in Ubud. While visiting I stumbled upon a white little puppy in the ricefields. As I looked for the mother or the nest, I layed him back in the field as I didnt want to take him home. A lot of people would think, that would be really selfish. But as I started tot think about this, it is more selfish to take care of the dog and leaving him shortly after you go back to your home country again. A lot of foreigners do this in Bali. 

Nevertheless, I went back on the scooter after almost getting home. When I got back for him, he was already soaking wet of the rain and shivering. So I did the most dumbest thing you could do in Bali. I adopted a pup and took him in my skirt on the scooter back to Kuta.

Fortunately I had a lot of good friends who would take “Milo” (named him after the chocolate milk in Indonesia) in when I went back to Holland. This little fellow gave me great joy when being there in Bali. After the internship, we would go on the bike and drive to the beach and play with the other dogs. 

I can’t describe in words, what a year it has been for me in Indonesia. The people that I have met, the experiences that come with it, made me feel truly blessed. This country is so diverse in its people, landscapes and cultures. Every mile you go on the road is always different than the last one. Indonesia never failed to ashtonish me and made me such a bigger person. Being a year away from home out of your comfort zone, makes you see things from a different perspective. This study made it possible for me to prepare for my thesis and also to see a new chapter, which I surely see myself going for.  I came back with a full heart and a clear mind. These things all will hopefully make me a better person  while aiming for goals which will not only benefit me but hopefully also other peopleI lost my heart in Indonesia and soon I will go back to retrieve it along with my dog Milo.

This story appeared earlier in e-magazine Business Trends Asia 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Future of ASEAN

Ambassadors to the Netherlands of Lao People's Democratic Republic, 
Indonesia and Thailand attended ICAD 2016 
On 3 September 2016, I was one of the speakers at the International Conference on ASEAN Development (ICAD) at Leiden University. Goal of the 2016 edition of ICAD was, as stated by its organizers PPI Belanda (Indonesian Student Association in The Netherlands), “to build a bridge between the EU and ASEAN and to learn from the EU in the fields of Law, Politics, Economics, Culture and Technology for a deeper integration and development of ASEAN”.

Although my speech focused on economic parallels between the EU and ASEAN, whereby economic integration in the fields of trade and investment and economic  disparity of its member states were highlighted, it struck me that my fellow speakers as well as the audience at the Conference were quite sceptical on the (future) achievements of ASEAN. They did not have much confidence in ASEAN gradually assuming a leading, both political and economic, role in the region and beyond. The Conference’s audience was made up of approximately 120 Indonesian students, pursuing Bachelor-, Master-, and PhD-degrees in The Netherlands and other EU countries, representing the around 1500 Indonesian higher education students in The Netherlands and over 5000 in Europe. 

Recent surveys held in Indonesia and neighbouring countries show that the “awareness” of ASEAN is increasing. In addition to large multinational companies, now also SMEs and individual entrepreneurs are seriously eyeing cross-border opportunities . However, apparently, there is still quite a large number of young people in the region that are hesitant when it comes to truely believing in the concept of ASEAN. The Indonesian students who attended ICAD 2016 pointed out the economic disparity between ASEAN member states and the unwillingness, or incapability, of showing leadership and decisiveness.

I am far most optimistic than some of these Indonesian students and strongly believe that ASEAN will in due course develop into a powerful union. But ASEAN will have to do it the Asian way, looking at the EU for some guidance, in particular from an institutional perspective. Jakarta could become a kind of Brussels, but nevertheless assume its own definition of a central role. Where the EU is struggling to keep its member states on board and is having a hard time enforcing agreements on them, politically as well as economically, ASEAN will work out its own way of dealing with geo-politcal and geo-economic issues. This may be regarded as being indecisive, but quick decisions and agreements without true support lack  credibility. The monetary crisis, the refugee crisis, the Brexit, are all examples how NOT to deal with political, economic and humanitarian issues.

As I said earlier, from an institutional perspective and as far as intra-union trade is concerned, the EU is a good example. ASEAN can definately learn from the EU how to better “organize” its institutions and how to boost intra-ASEAN  trade and investment. But as far as aligning individual member states on common (?) political and economic (monetary) challenges, ASEAN should create its own framework, whereby initial disparity between member states may not necessarliy be an obstacle. However, its geo-political and geo-economic balancing act is even more delicate than Europe’s. ASEAN is embarking on a cautious and careful course whereby a non-confrontational approach will prove to be far more effective than going head-to-head on matters of national interest or on geo-political sensitivities. 

Will this road be a mere “walk in the park”?  Definately not, ASEAN will stumble every now and then, face set-backs occasionally. It is a complex journey.  As in Europe, ultra-nationalism and populism are also on the rise in Southeast Asia. National governments will have to explain policies in a convincing way in order to avoid xenophobia coming along with migration. There is bilateral friction between member states. Philippine newspaper, The Inquier, as well as the Japan Times, this week expressed their concern on the political indecisiveness of ASEAN. Both articles referred to the ASEAN meeting in Vientiane, Laos, last week, where ASEAN failed to take a firm stance against China’s interference in the South China Sea. The articles questioned China’s commitment to ASEAN’s Code of Conduct in the South China Sea and the international ruling of the arbitral court of the UN Convention of the Law and the Sea (UNCLOS).  Concluding  the meeting in Vientiane, ASEAN failed to align all member states to issue a joint statement in which it would stand up to China in this maritime conflict.

And how to deal with “different leadership styles”, to put it euphemistically in the case of Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, for example ? Are the rulers in these member states a threat to the cohesion within ASEAN ? They could be, although their unpredictable, radical way of governing their countries may have a greater effect on their relationship with the "international community" in the West, than on their dealings with neighbouring states in Asia.

These are all enormous challenges that ASEAN faces, I have to admit. But the outcome of the Laos meeting is no surprise to me as ASEAN will have to perform a balancing act between being friend or ally with China, and/or with the so-called “international community”. Earlier I mentioned the “Asian way”: addressing regional conflicts or interfering in eachother’s national affairs will not be done “bluntly”. A quick solution putting a superficial plaster on wounds, will not be the way ASEAN will resolve its problems. Complex problems will have to be tackled by means of bilateral talks between individual member states on various levels of government.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Winning the hearts & minds

In this second decade of the twenty-first century, China has become a superpower. In particular, in the last 10 years, the country has established itself firmly in the global political and economic arena. Was it Europe that dominated the world in the 19th Century and the U.S. in the 20th Century, this new era may well be China’s !

Geopolitically and geoeconomically, China is making its presence felt in the region and in the rest of the world. Numerous acquisitions in Europe and the U.S., economic expansion into Africa and, of course, trade and investment in its own “backyard”, Asia. 

The One Belt, One Road initiative, the “claiming” of territories in the South China Sea, the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), its prominent role in the recent Paris Climate Conference, are all signals that China is not only spreading its wings economically but also politically. China is letting the world know that the days that Western nations solely dominated the political and economic agenda are over. 

However, China faces a tough battle. Although large parts of the world do turn away from Western influence, whether in Africa or in Asia, this does not mean that China is automatically embraced as the replacing superpower. Just as the U.S. is struggling with “winning the hearts & minds” in large parts of the world, China is having to deal with this on maybe an even larger scale. Where the U.S. at least has loyal Europe unconditionally on its side, China is having a hard time lining up “allies” even within Asia. Whether historically-determined, or driven by more recent events, China’s gesture of goodwill is not seldom met with a lukewarm response. 

It takes more than just money and know-how to be accepted by the world as a leading superpower. In the years to come, China will have to work hard on “winning the hearts & minds” of other nations in Asia and in the rest of the world.

This article appeared earlier in e-magazine Business Trends Asia  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Getting to Belitung Island

H.A.S. Hanandjoeddin Aiport

In2008, relatively unknown Pulau Belitung off the coast of Southeast Sumatra gained instant fame with the Indonesian box office hit “Laskar Pelangi. The movie pictures a group of young boys coming of age on the island. Millions of Indonesians embraced the movie and since then, domestic tourism, primarily comprising ethnic-Chinese from Jakarta, has surged dramatically.

The island attracted curious visitors once more when East-Belitung-born Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, rose from Deputy-Governor under current-President Joko Widodo to Governor of Jakarta in 2014. Several middle-class hotels and the occasional upmarket hotel have sprung up in the captital town of West-Belitung, Tanjung Pandan, from which pristine beaches along the Northwestern coast and numerous tiny islands off the Northwest tip of the island can easily be reached.

Belitung Island (residents pronounce it as Belitong), which, together with neighbouring Bangka Island, makes up Bangka-Belitung Province, was named after Dutch Mining Company, Billiton. While the island is less suitable for rice farming, it is rich on tin and agriculture consists of pepper, coffee and rubber, among other crops.

With approximately 275,000 inhabitants, the 5,000 island is sparsely populated (in comparison with the island of Bali which is slightly bigger but houses over 4 million people !). Belitung's population forms a harmonious mix of ethnic-Chinese, who, contrary to their fellow-countrymen in Java (mostly Christian), are primarily Bhuddist here, Muslims and even Hindus, who left the island of Bali and came to Belitung as a result of former-President Suharto’s“transmigrasi”- policy. Their dessa in the heart of the island is called“Balitung”. The dialect 
spoken on Belitung is Melayu (Malay).
Photo taken from lighthouse on Lengkuas Island

The island’s marvelous white-sand beaches and off-coast rocks and islets are not only stunning, but also quiet and peaceful as a result of tourism still being in its infancy. Flights tot the island are limited; several times daily from Jakarta (45 minutes), while NAM Air connects the island with Pankal Pinang on neighbouring Bangka. 

This article appeared earlier in e-magazine Business Trends Asia

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

India, a country of contradictions

My former teacher, Mr. Van den Broek, requested me whether I could write an article for his website on how I ended up in India. That is a very easy and short story. Once upon a time I came across this course called Trade Management aimed at Asia, which is a BBA course combined with Asian language and culture, at the Rotterdam Business School. That really appealed to me. Part of this course is going to Asia for one year for a student exchange and internship. So the real question here is not, how did I end up in India, as all of his students at one point go to Asia. The real question is: why did I stay?

Before coming to India, the question I heard most often was: why India? You, of course,  have the Indian growing economy, the rising middle-class, the neglecting of seeing the opportunities in India as most people doing business in Asia focus on China, the highly educated youth, the technological developments etc.. My decision was not based on facts like these, but on a gut feeling that I had to opt for India. Every day I am still happy I did not listen to the people telling me to go to China and listened to my gut feeling.

Now that I have decided to stay in India, the questions I hear more often are: do you have a boyfriend in Delhi (no) and did a Dutch company send you to Delhi (no). The idea that I am in Delhi because I choose to be in Delhi is difficult to comprehend for many Dutch as well as Indian people. I have fallen in love with this crazy, beautiful, hectic city and I can’t imagine another place where I want to live, at least not for the coming few years. 

My school did its best to try to prepare us for Asia. During two days of self-reflection in the middle of nowhere they taught us all about the curve you go through when you move abroad. You start with the honeymoon phase, where everything in the new country is amazing. The creators of this theory have obviously not been to India. India is right in your face. It is impossible to have a honeymoon phase in India. The first few days you see the beggars, the poverty, the crowds and you just think by yourself: how am I ever going to feel at home here. I was lucky that I had a relatively easy start in India, as I arrived in Mumbai. Mumbai is, compared to Delhi, a less aggressive city.  Especially when you are staying with a friend, who still lives at home. Her mom was very sweet and protective, resulting in me rarely stepping outside alone. So my real introduction of having to deal with India came after two weeks, when I travelled alone through Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for three weeks. 

My first introduction to travelling alone was a mixed one. When I think back about my first solo trip, I usually at first only think about the positive things. The Dutch heritage at Kochi, boating in the backwaters of Kerala, trying to swim in the ferocious waves in Gokarna, biking around in the breathtaking landscape of Hampi, doing absolutely nothing in Bangalore, exploring the mix between India and France in Pondicherry, merging with pilgrims in Rameshwaram, enjoying the nature in Kodaikanal and seeing three oceans merge in Kanyakumari. When I dig deeper into my memory I remember the negative things. The sometimes innocent, sometimes not so innocent eve-teasing, difficulties with finding the right tickets and accommodation, vicious food poisoning while being in a sleepers bus, people trying to scam you and being an attraction for Indian tourists. While complaining about the negative sides of travelling to friends they all told me the same: wait till you get to Delhi. South India is nothing compared to Delhi.

Luckily, they were wrong. I arrived in Delhi on the 1st of July in 2014. I came to Delhi with the intention of only studying there and trying to find an internship in Mumbai. Within one month I changed my mind and decided that I wanted to do my internship in Delhi as well. Within a few months, I decided that being in India for one year was too short and I would try to write my thesis there as well. 

 After arrival in Delhi, I had a few weeks till my school started. One of my teachers in the Netherlands had put me in touch with a friend of hers in Delhi and he asked whether I could help out at his company for a few days. His company, Siddhartha Das Studio, is a design studio aimed at the cultural field. They work on projects like museums, art installations, heritage spaces. I went to helping out for a few days, to working part-time during my student exchange, to doing my internship there, to writing my thesis for his company, to working there fulltime. 

 I am balancing in between of two worlds. I will never fit in within the Indian culture, but I also don't feel comfortable with some aspects of the Dutch culture anymore. I truly understood how much India had affected me when I went back to the Netherlands for three weeks after having been away for almost a year. I felt like a stranger in my own country. The Netherlands seemed like such a cold, empty and colorless place. I was missing the hectic, colors and smells of Delhi. I often tell Indians who don't understand why I choose to live in Delhi: "this city has more residents than my country, which means that there is always so much to do, to see, to explore."

 During my two years in India, I have experienced so much. It has been a very intense time. I studied, I travelled a lot, I worked. It feels that the longer I am in India and the more I see of it, the farther away I get from understanding this society and the more peace I have with that fact. I am convinced that every closed question about India can be answered with both a yes and a no, depending on where and with who you are. India is a country of contradictions. From the world's most expensive residential home to the largest slum, from Hindu to Muslim, from traditional tribes to trendy yuppies, from tinder to arranged marriage, from history in every little part in South Delhi to Gurgaon with its skyscrapers. India is a mystery I will be never able to understand, but of which I am very eager to learn more. 

About the author: Anouk van de Kar is a BBA graduate from Trade Management Asia, Rotterdam Business School

This article appeared earlier in e-magazine Business Trends Asia