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Life Abroad

Life Abroad 

As Gustav Flaubert put it, travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world. Still, living in another country can sound a little bit daunting at first. Please rest assured it would be a life-time experience when you mix and mingle with the locals, learn new hands-on experience on your fields of study and discover your place in the world.

Here, we provide some helpful guidelines and insights into your life abroad in Vietnam. We understand that local immersion is one of the core values brought about by having an internship or a semester abroad. This column is born out of that idea - it can be of great help both before and after your arrival in Vietnam since you’ll find yourself reading it again.  

Why be an ABROADER? 

Besides giving you a definition of an ABROADER, it gives you solid reasons why a semester or more abroad as an ABROADER is worth it and how a program with ABROADER makes it an reality. 

My Identity in Vietnam 

You will find this extremely helpful in the context of Vietnam. A well-composed comprehensive piece of writing based on our observation and research on how your identity would be when you are in Vietnam, particularly in a different Asian culture. It allows insight into general views of the locals on daily lives matters such as Gender, Safety, Race and Ethnicity, Sexual Identity and Gender relationships.  

Please click to have more information about VisaTravel InsuranceHealth and SafetyTransportationAccommodation.

Social Etiquettes 

Any culture have unspoken rules when it comes to social etiquettes. In order to avoid awkward situations or misunderstandings, getting to know social customs is a must when it comes to exposure to a new culture. This post informs you in advance of no-nos in Vietnamese culture, from table manners to tips with dressing; and of values Vietnamese people place a strong importance on such as face and family. Since local immersion is also one aims of our program abroad, it is recommended that you check these out.

Since our projects are based mostly in Hanoi and Ho chi minh City, you’ll find guides to be more local in these two cities. 

Guide to Hanoi 

As you arrive at Noi Bai Airport, you are now in Hanoi - the capital city of Vietnam. Ha Noi has made its name for local cuisine, especially street food, Bia Hoi and lots of sightseeing spots that give you both a sense of the Old Hanoi and a modern Hanoi. 

Guide to Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh City, also called Saigon, is the business and financial hub of Vietnam. It is a city that is rich in culture and history. Here in the most cosmopolitan city in Vietnam, you can immerse in the city’s elegant architecture and broad boulevards. 

Along with these guidelines, you’ll also have your local buddies to help you on the journey of being immersed in a whole new culture. 

Don’t be afraid and step out of the comfort zone with ABROADER. 

Let us bring you meaningful experiences today.

The damp and blistering air on the first day of June still hasn’t slipped my mind. A summer internship at the Center for Sustainable Rural Development, under the scorching sun of Ha Noi, is filled with salutary experiences. A unique task I am responsible for was to compile “Planting life, Planting tree”, a photo book that describes changes in farmers’ behavior after seeing the benefits of living harmoniously with Mother Nature. It is not simply putting captions under images. Rather, it is a whole process of doing research, understanding the project and cultural background, working closely with the program officers, local agencies, and villagers to complete the book. Thus, climate change, for me, is no longer only about ice being melted in Antarctica. The rising temperature effects have to be seen right in the field where farmers’ livelihood is being taken away by deforestation, natural disasters, and water shortage. The knowledge and skills I have gained from the internship surpass the classroom environment and definitely will set a firm base for me in my future career plan. Apart from my Climate Change Internship in Vietnam, I came to Ha Noi without any expectation for long-lasting relationships rather than professional ones. Yet, ABROADER staff and local buddies have completely changed my mind. Their support and welcoming outshine my worries and loneliness. Also, during my internship time, living in the apartment for ABROADER's interns, I have found myself such wonderful friends who share the same interest. What is more precious to explore an unfamiliar place, do what you love and make friends with such awesome people?

NGUYEN CHAU BAO

Climate Change Internship ,College of Wooster, Ohio

My Internship in Vietnam was with the Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender – Family – Women and Adolescent (CSAGA), a non-governmental, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the rights of women and children who are vulnerable to violence and discrimination in Vietnam. It was pretty unclear at the beginning what was expected of me, however, I gradually figured out what was needed as the days went on. It was no problem at all. My supervisor was very sweet and so nice to me. She always asked me what I was doing on the weekends, and with my free time, and has offered me advice on different things about Vietnam. I felt that I was given everything I needed to perform my job here at CSAGA. My work seemed to be important to the agency since I did a lot of research for important proposals CSAGA was writing. The host organization had been very helpful and accommodating to anything I needed while here. They always asked if everything was going ok and if there was anything I needed to help make my time here more successful. I don’t think there was anything they could’ve done better. With the services provided by ABROADER Vietnam, I felt it was really helpful how they picked me up from the airport and took me to get my accommodations and phone figured out. It would’ve been extremely difficult to try and figure that entire process out on my own. I don’t think there is anything that ABROADER could’ve done better. They gave me all the support I need to get through my Social Work Internship in Vietnam.

HEATHER JOANN SHEFFIELD

Social Work Internship ,Oregon State University, U.S.A

The host school was very welcoming and friendly, provided me with plenty of opportunities to interact with different year levels and observe classes, very keen on showing me Vietnam and making me comfortable. The teachers that we got to work with were very supportive – very kind and supportive! They welcomed us into their community and provided us with numerous opportunities to be in the classroom and teach. We get to receive feedbacks from teachers after the classes and it really helps a lot for us to make progress and improvement. I am also very grateful for the local buddies that support us throughout the program, they are all very kind and helpful.

RACHEL ODAM

Monash University ,Education Internship in Vietnam

The three weeks that I spent in Vietnam gave me a unique insight and greater appreciation into the world around.

DANTE STANEKE

Engineering Faculty-Led Program ,University of Newcastle, Australia

Prior to arriving in Vietnam, I had never had a so-called “life-changing” experience. There is no guidebook on how to achieve one, nor was I able to grasp such a concept, moments so strong as to change the path for your life. That is until I went to Vietnam. There is so much more than meets the eye in the beautiful country of Vietnam. A tourist or temporary visitor may only be granted with picturesque views of rice fields and the women in their hats, the mountains of the north, or a steaming bowl of Pho placed on their plastic red table. And while these experiences are all incredible in their own right, there is so much more to discover, whether it be the story of the people under the hats, the sellers on the streets, or the history of the land that you have the opportunity to travel. ABROADER Vietnam granted me the opportunity to uncover such stories, and an internship with memories that has left me longing to go back since the moment I returned home. Vietnam has become my second home. Granted, I had gotten the opportunity to travel and become accustomed to Vietnam for about four months prior to starting the internship. My University had allowed me to study abroad during which time I adjusted to the food and language, learning about almost every aspect of Vietnam culture. But this was only a preview of what was to come. My time with the internship let me interact with the people, practice my Vietnamese, take trips with my coworkers, and uncover passions for things I didn’t know existed. I have too many incredible stories to be able to write them all throughout this review, and so I’ll pick a few of the mostly little interactions that really meant the most. ABROADER Vietnam set me up in a homestay, perhaps one of the highlights of my journey, and I can say with complete honesty that I felt like part of the family. There was a cook by the name of “Vui”, meaning happy in Vietnamese, and how appropriate as she radiated happiness onto me throughout my entire stay. She did not speak any English, but somehow I was able to coordinate trips to the market, request my favorite food for dinners, and convey to her how much I loved her country. She bought me 21 roses on my 21st birthday, only proving her kindness. The mother of the household, unlike Vui, spoke some English. She often taught me Vietnamese when I had free time, as well as took me to the market, and made me feel extremely welcome when I felt the slightest bit homesick. But as for the internship itself, I was placed in two hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City, one directly in the center, and one located more on the outskirts. I’m not going to lie and say that there were no challenges. Originally people were confused to why I was there, I got lost several times, and some days I had no one to teach me, but those were a minuscule few days as most, out of a ten week internship. I made friends with the doctors who taught me about topics from infectious diseases in Vietnam, to the catheder lab, and even more in the surgical urology department.. We frequently went out to eat, where we exchanged stories, and I answered curious questions about my time in Vietnam thus far. Other friends I made were medical students, originally too shy to approach me, but through my time in the hospital gathered up the courage to speak to me. I served to help them practice their English and was happy about it as I know how many opportunities it can open up for them. They invited me for bubble tea, food, and even once to a Vietnamese fruit farm, two hours by train. I was gifted the opportunity to dress up in the MOST attractive brown cloth attire, and proceed to pick and eat as much fruit as humanly possible on perhaps one of the most humid days. While I felt almost at home, eating to my hearts desire, I most certainly looked out of place with the brown pants acting more like a short capri on my long legs. It was days like this that I got to thinking of how grateful I was for the opportunity to stay in Vietnam for a little bit longer. I learned lots about my friends, and one of my favorite aspects of their culture is how open they are to strangers; how they just immediately let them in to their personal lives, and are completely honest. It is something that I miss the most. And lastly, as I don’t want to write a novel here, I have to talk about my experiences with the nurses at the second hospital that I worked in. The first week as usual was slightly stressful with not much sense of direction, but I quickly made friends, and their generosity was incredible. My days consisted of learning from doctors for a few hours, walking from room to room, checking patients vitals, or just practicing Vietnamese. But as soon as I took a break in the nurses “lounge”, I was bombarded with different Vietnamese foods coming my way. Each nurse wanted to share with me a piece of their dish, and talk to me as much as they could. Each morning from there on I would be asked in Vietnamese “Ali an sang chua?”, a phrase meaning “have you eaten breakfast yet?” Per usual I had not, and my answer encouraged them to start making me a coffee, and once again piling different foods in my bowls and encouraging me to eat mysterious shaped foods. My response that the food was delicious, or “ngon”, only encouraged them more. This routine continued until the end of my internship. The goodbyes were not easy, and there were many I had to make. Each attempted goodbye always ended with another attempt by them to try and meet up once more, at which I sullenly had to refuse. There are only a few things I will say to end this review that went much too long. These moments that I experienced were granted to me due to my opportunity to take up an internship with ABROADER, who set me up in the select hospitals, with my host family, and opened the doors for me to make connections. And of course when you take on an internship you have to do your part. You must be open, able to laugh when things don’t go your way, and not let any roadblock deter you. Looking back I know that I have changed. While I couldn’t see it in the moment, the internship boosted my confidence and improved my relationship with failure. It also made my more open with myself and those that I met. I wished my internship could go longer, and perhaps I will find a job in Vietnam one day, so for now all I can do is reminisce through reviews about the most life-changing time I had with my internship and with ABROADER.

ALISON BURELBACH

Medical Internship ,Loyola University Chicago

My internship has been a very fruitful journey, and I have learnt many things from my colleagues at NashTech Hanoi. Many of my skills have improved considerably, especially my communication skills. The working environment in Hanoi is very different from my experience in Singapore, and it has been a breath of fresh air for me. The staff and local buddies at ABROADER have also been immensely helpful! They always go the extra mile for us, and my time in Hanoi would have been very different if not for them, thank you very much!

Ho Hao Keet (Max)

IT Internship ,Republic Polytechnics Singapore

The three weeks that I spent in Vietnam gave me a unique insight and greater appreciation into the world around me. Going to Vietnam has made me value the things I take for granted in Australia, such as just being able to drink clean water from the tap. I discovered that the people of Vietnam are so generous and forgiving. I made many new friends during the study tour and learned a course all whilst touring a great country. The study tour was very enjoyable and I had lots of fun along the way with the activities planned by the local buddies. The course itself was interesting and I genuinely enjoyed the content, despite it being so condensed into a few weeks. My advice for students wanting to go on ABROADER study tour would be to just enjoy the trip while it lasts and take as many photos as possible, because the time goes so quick. A huge thank you to all the organisers of the trip and to the local buddies for making this trip possible and the best it could have been.

DANTE STANEKE

Engineering Faculty-Led Program ,University of Newcastle, Australia

came here because I wanted to have more confidence to speak up my mind in front of other people and it is hard to accomplish these when you are still in your comfort zone, so I chose to come to Vietnam for an internship and I was able to accomplish what I came for. And I realize, the key to develop yourself is to improve your competence in a whole new environment.

TAKAHISA MORINO

Education Internship ,Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan

Everyone from the program coordinator to my local buddy was extremely supportive! The experience would not have been as great as it has been if I was by myself. I felt very satisfied with the service ABROADER Vietnam provided for my Nursing Internship in Vietnam at Ho Chi Minh Hopspital of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation. I was clear about the rules and expectations required of me during my placement. My supervisors instructed me and helped me with language translation and clarifications of responsibilities. With their help, I felt I was well equipped for the job I was assigned. I brought my equipment from home to the workplace and it provided great assistance for my work. During the internship in Vietnam, I was glad I was able to learn technical skills from the nurses from the hospital. They have all been very supportive, friendly, patient and open to my help. They trained me with techniques quite different from how it is occasionally done back home. I will definitely recommend this program to my colleagues!

SANDRA GOMEZ VEGA

Nursing Internship ,University of Texas Austin School of Nursing, U.S.A

I was very appreciated and valued at the host school, they were extremely welcoming and friendly. The teachers provided me with plenty of opportunities to interact with different year levels and observe classes. In addition, even though it is not their responsibility to, they were also very keen on showing me Vietnam and making me comfortable, I got to go on a trip to pagodas in Ho Chi Minh where I got to wear ao dai and get to know more about another aspect of Vietnamese life. One inconvenience I had would be that my accommodation was quite far from the school and I was by myself. But overall, this can be improved on and I would recommend the internship program to anyone interested.

ALEXANDRA BAULCH

Monash University ,Education Internship