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The ultimate to-do list before your first intern abroad journey

ABROADER November 04, 2022 8 read

Going on an intern abroad trip? Check out this to-do list for first-time abroaders! From things to research before you go, to what you should do, to how to ace your best while you’re there, this list has everything you need to know to have a successful trip.

Are you interning abroad for the first time? Congratulations! This is a fantastic opportunity to learn about a new culture and gain valuable work experience. But before you go, there are a few things you should do to prepare. Check out this to-do list for first-time abroaders to make sure you’re ready for a successful intern abroad trip. And welcome to Vietnam!

1. Have a passport and (if necessary), a visa.

If you haven’t traveled anywhere abroad before, it might be a relatively new-sounding thing to you to go get a passport, and sometimes, a visa, to visit certain countries for your study abroad trip. The key here is to start your passport applications way ahead of time before your flight date (we are talking about months ahead) especially if the country you are visiting requires a study or a travel visa to enter. While the passport process is quite simple, sometimes red tape does get in the way and might cause delays to your perfect study abroad plans.

Another tip for first-time travelers after you get your passport is to make several copies of it (preferably colored copies). Take those with you when you travel and leave one with someone you trust back home. You wouldn’t want to carry your physical passport everywhere in the new country (in case you have somewhere safe to put it, for example, at the hotel receptionist, or in a locked safe in your room). In the worst-case scenario that you lose your passport, a copy of it would help a lot. The same thing applies to your visa, get copies of it and carry it with you to the new country.

For those who already had a passport, it wouldn’t hurt to double-check the expiration date. And here’s the tricky part, even with a VALID passport, most countries DENY entry if it is due to expire within three to six months of travel.

And you know what, Vietnam e-visa (Electronic visa), which was officially launched in 2017, is a simple and convenient way for foreigners to enter Vietnam. Check it out right here for an easier approach to Vietnam!

2. Get a health check-up

There are two scenarios, whether you are going to a country where healthcare is super expensive or a country where it is super cheap, you wouldn’t want to get a check-up or dental appointment in a foreign country. You don’t speak the language and your insurance might not cover that extra visit. Therefore, it is smart to get a thorough check-up or dental appointment before you depart to the new destination so that you can have more freedom to explore the country without worrying about a decayed tooth.

One more important step to take when you visit the doctor pre-departure is to figure out what necessary vaccinations you need to take before your intern abroad trip. This is usually the case, especially when you are going to developing countries where there are abundant threats of diseases such as dengue fever, malaria, zika, bird flu, and so on. Make sure not to leave having the shots until the last minute as some vaccinations only get into effect after a week or two.

3. Figure out how to communicate with folks back home

Even though you are probably going to be super busy with activities and work on your intern abroad trip, it is a good idea to know what options you have regarding how to connect with friends or family back home in case of an emergency.

With the growth of social media and networks, there are plenty of options for you to choose from such as Skype, Facebook video chat, Whatsapp, and Line. Check your destination country’s popular means of communication and set up an account for your mom and dad. Some countries, like China, do block the use of certain world-known social networks and only allow the use of Chinese social networks and search engine like Wechat.

Buying a local SIM card is also one of the better options, especially if you are staying for more than one month. Local SIM card is usually not expensive and you can use 3G in case you need directions. Just make sure, if you are using an iPhone, to have it unlocked to use in other countries before you depart on your study abroad program. In Vietnam, we will prepare you with a local SIM card right on your first day here, to make sure of your seamless connection.

4. Set up a budget plan for your trip

You should do this especially when there is a big difference in exchange rates between your country and the foreign country. To begin with, research the cost of living at the destination and make a draft of all the expenses you will have to spend (accommodation, transportation, food, excursions, and so on), make sure to allot a considerable amount to unexpected expenditures.

Cash or credit card?

Most vendors and stores in developing countries rarely take credit cards and you usually have to pay extra fees when you use your credit card. There are plenty of ATMs available, although ATMs fees do add up if you are on a long trip and it is usually not safe to carry a bunch of cash with you as a foreigner. What you can do is use services that accept credit card payment, for example, shop at big chain supermarkets and convenience stores, take Uber or Grab (ride-hailing apps) or stay at certain accommodations that accept payment by credit card.   

There is one attractive thing about traveling and interning in Vietnam, the cost and price are quite cheap and affordable. And there in Vietnam, both cash and mobile banking are widely accepted, so do not worry too much when living here.

5. Get a legit insurance

There are different types of insurance you can look into for your trip, whether it is insurance for your health, properties, or travel insurance, make sure you know how to claim the insurance if accidents do happen abroad. Maybe you will need to go to a specific clinic or fill in forms to get insured. Whatever the guidelines are, make sure to keep them in mind while you are abroad.

6. Learn about your destination

This is one of the oldest rules in any travel book: to know where you are heading. No matter how many weird things you have experienced in your home country, going abroad, especially an intern abroad trip is a whole different story. Culture shocks are bound to happen and reading about strange and various cultural aspects of the foreign country you are visiting will lessen the culture shock one way or another.

Knowing about the country can also be a very good conversation starter if you are planning to make local friends. Showing your interest in their culture makes a good impression and they will be more willing to show or tell you more.

And in case you fall in love with Vietnam, you can explore more there to deepen your love and knowledge and prepare your best before interning in Vietnam.

7. Find out how to work effectively with local people

Each country has a different working culture. In order to work effectively with local people when on your intern abroad trip, it is important to first understand the community or the company in which you will be working. This means learning about the community’s history, culture, and values. Once you have a good understanding of the community, you can then begin to build relationships with people working there. It is important to be respectful and humble when working with local people and to always be willing to listen to their perspectives. By building strong relationships and working collaboratively, you can effectively work with local people to achieve common goals.

There is no exception in Vietnam. You can learn about the business culture in Vietnam right here.

8. Pack your Suitcase and Go

Don’t listen to what they say, go and experience for yourself. This is your time to shine and you should not let anything get in the way!

And don’t forget to have lots of fun! 🙂

Talking about an intern abroad trip, we have various customized interning options for you. Make sure to check it out!

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