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.
Medical Internship ,Loyola University Chicago
Having an Internship program away from home is not an easy decision because you have to think of so many aspects like entering a new culture, encountering language differences, living in a new environment and so many other things. At first, I was very nervous because it was my first time in Vietnam, but ABROADER made me feel that I made a right decision to come for an internship here. They will not let you feel away from your home as they will treat you not just like a student intern but as a part of the ABROADER family. I never felt alone as they are always there to guide and support me during my internship despite of the culture differences. The very good news is I am starting to learn and immerse myself into the Vietnamese life with the help of not only my on-site program coordinator but also my lovely Vietnamese co-workers in Ha Long Bay. My program started with an orientation on my internship in Vietnam at ABROADER’s office, during which they also taught me some basic Vietnamese language that is very helpful while I am here. Afterwards, we had a welcome dinner where I tried different Vietnamese dishes which I immediately fell in love with. They were all very “ngon” which means delicious in Vietnamese :) . The next day we had a day of city tour with my local buddy – Ngan where she showed me around tourists spots in Hanoi’s Old Quarter and French Quarter. During the tour, Ngan also brought me to local restaurants to enjoy traditional Vietnamese foods and drinks like Egg coffee which I like best. To make it even better, she took me to a place near Hoan Kiem Lake where I got to discover the most delicious ice cream I have ever tasted in my life.
MARVIN M. NAPI
Hospitality - Cruise Management Internship ,Graduate, Mariners' Polytechnic Colleges Foundation
In general, I am satisfied with the Internship Service provided by ABROADER before I came to Vietnam. My host family placement exceeded my expectations. My host mother and father were all very friendly and helpful; they really made me feel at home. My local buddy Linh, even though she lived 2 hours away, she still made efforts in taking me on day-trips that catered to my interest in Vietnamese Cuisine.
I contacted ABROADER for the Culinary Internship in Vietnam on my own and and given the amount of money and time I will be investing, it was extremely important for me to feel that I can trust ABROADER Vietnam. My host for the internship was Ngon Villa Restaurant. The host company staffs were very friendly and welcoming, one chef at the restaurant was in charge of my internship. However, due to perhaps unforeseeable needs in the company, my supervisor was not able to spend more than a day with me. ABROADER Vietnam found an excellent opportunity for internship in Vietnam for me; however, the host company was not able to fully deliver the experience I was looking for.
Culinary Internship ,City College of San Francisco, U.S.A
I’ve always loved leaving my country (the US) and having new experience, so I wanted to do an internship abroad. Having already spent a semester in Europe, I wanted something really different. My mom was born in Saigon and lived there before coming to the United States with her family. So I felt like a good way to get in touch with my culture and my roots would be to spend three months living and working in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. In my internship in Vietnam, I have helped with various marketing efforts by giving ideas or designing things. I have learned that, of course, there is a different way of doing business here compared to the United States. Things are run differently, there’s a different office culture, there are just always many cultural differences to keep in mind when doing business in a different country, and Vietnam has not been an exception.
The people ABROADER have set me up with have been beyond wonderful. Coming to Vietnam on my own seemed very daunting and intimidating, but ABROADER has helped make the transition smooth and seamless. They helped take care of everything I would need during my time here and have gone above and beyond to assure that things continue to go smoothly. I am very appreciative of their support, and it makes the whole thing a little less scary.
My local buddies have been so helpful for everything, and I really feel like they are becoming genuine friends. I am generally pretty shy, so it was nice to have friends before even arriving to help introduce me to more people and get me out there. Overall the people have exceeded my expectations, and they are really what’s going to help make my experience in Vietnam a great one.
NATASHA NGUYEN MOHNEY
Marketing Intern ,Indiana University, Bloomington, U.S.A
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
What I love about Green Bamboo Warm Shelter is my supervisor, Ms. Lieu, cares about me as a person. She frequently helps and supports me a lot in my work. Besides, the workplace was super close to the studio I stayed and I could walk to the company everyday. Though there weren't any windows in my room, it was totally fine.
After the internship here, I think my ability to cope with unexpected situations has been levelled up and my interpersonal skills have been further developed. And most importantly, I could clarify my career and my educational goals in the future. Overall, I am satisfied with this internship as a whole!
Food & Beverage Intern at Green Bamboo Warm Shelter ,Oakton community college
Before, I didn’t really like my personality as I was a timid girl and afraid to speak up for myself. I am also a perfectionist and would like to spend as much time for preparation as possible before I do something. However, the internship in Vietnam changed that for me. Through interacting with my students and fellow interns I opened up a lot and become more outgoing. In my work, after going through some troubles with cultural difference, I realize one thing for myself that is: Preparation is not always good and if you don’t prepare you are given the chance to do things more freely and more out of the box, so next time even if you’re asked to do something when you’re not prepared “Just Do It
Education Internship ,Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan
During my environmental engineering internship at Vinaxanh JSC, I have learned a great deal of practical knowledge and skills that I hadn’t been taught in schools before, in particular my design skills have been improved a lot. My supervisor and coworkers gave me very helpful support and guidance which is what I expected to have in an internship, although I wish I was more freedom to explore and do independent work. Adding to the experience, I got to go on a field trip to Hai Duong in 2 weeks while I was an intern. It was a valuable experience for me because I was able to travel and see the different practices in a smaller city of Hai Duong compared to Hanoi, I of course made new friends and had a little peak into the local life of people outside the busy capital.
Environmental Engineering Internship ,Durham University, the UK
The people at ABROADER helped me transition into moving to Hanoi and beginning my internship. They helped me find a homestay at this place called Bui Xuyen Viet Travel Coffee, which is a small coffee shop that is all about travel. I really love my home stay. The people are some of the kindest I have met in Vietnam and extremely helpful in helping me navigate through the city and experience a local perspective of life in Hanoi. As for my internship, the staff has been very supportive and encouraging. They have helped challenge me and encourage me at the same time to contribute in any way I can to the company. After only a few days there, I could tell that I would really like my co-workers. They are a young, energetic, and sarcastic bunch who truly care about the company. It definitely feels like a team at the office. I know that I can talk to them about any questions I may have, and they are patient in letting me learn along the way. The experience that I have so far at ABROADER has been helpful in get a better idea of what I want to pursue after I go back home to the U.S., and my experiences overall in Vietnam that were very much made possible by ABROADER are experiences that are invaluable and that I will cherish for a lifetime. Vietnam is a beautiful country, with its breathtaking nature and tropical beaches, there is no doubt about it. But what really makes Vietnam feel like home and a place that I have become fond of is the people, the friends that I have made along the journey.
Marketing Intern ,University of California, San Diego, U.S.A
There were definitely times during my internship that the cultural difference between Vietnam and Japan made my internship here challenging. However, I was able to be in a team of amazing people and I learnt to accept the difference of opinions within my team and be patient to avoid any conflict. For me, being in a harmonious team motivated me to be positive, work harder and be a more productive person in general.
Education Internship ,Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan