Experiencing Vietnam through a Homestay during your Internship in Vietnam

Posted by SE Vietnam - Student Exchange Vietnam

Internship in Vietnam 2

A closeknit multi-generation Vietnamese family

“What do you expect to gain from a study abroad program or an internship in Vietnam? Gaining practical, hands-on experience? Enjoying fun activities in another country? Or learning how to live and immerse yourself in the Vietnamese culture? If you are having trouble figuring out how to make that last wish come true, we have the answer for you: staying with a local family is experiencing local life at its best. Beside the difficulties of adapting to a new culture and living arrangement, living with a local host family is one of the most worthwhile, fun, and rewarding parts of your study abroad program or internship in Vietnam.

So… why homestay in Vietnam?

1. You’ll be faced with new challenges and awkward situations. But at the end, you overcome it with a bang!

One of the biggest difficulties our interns have when staying with a host family is the communication barrier. Although the main language required in most internship is English, outside of the interns’ workplace, most Vietnamese don’t speak English! SE Vietnam usually arranges homestay placement so that there is at least one English speaking person at the host family, and this is usually means the host brother or sister (the young generation) would play the role of a translator for the international students to communicate with all family members. So how did our brilliant students dealt with this problem? First of all, our students were well-equipped with basic Vietnamese phrases on their orientation to survive this situation, they also got to pick up even more phrases and vocabulary from their host family and it was for them, a beneficial learning experience outside of school or work. So, what if one is not quick at learning a new language, you may ask, at this point, body language comes as a very useful tool, or even Google Translate helps. As long as you keep your mind open to new ways and solutions, you will definitely get it!  

Below is an account from our Japanese Intern – Reina – whose most memorable moment she encountered during her internship in Vietnam was with her host family:

My host family was really nice people and they helped me a lot in accommodating to the new living environment. The only problem I had was that I can only speak with the host sister because she’s the only English speaker in the house. Occasionally, when I’m at home with the host parents, I would use the Google Translate App if I want to communicate anything to them. One day, however, I was preparing to go to work when the electricity was out, my host sister was gone, my host parents couldn’t speak English and Google Translate was definitely not available to help. So I decided to utilize every piece of Vietnamese language and body language I can to communicate to them that I needed to go out and I couldn’t open the door. This is such a small but impactful incident that made me realize my shortcoming and the importance of communicating in other people’s language without the help of technology.

Internship in Vietnam

Reina (middle) enjoying a family meal with host family and her friends.

Want to hear more from Reina’s teaching internship in Vietnam? Click here.

2. You’ll learn how to make authentic Vietnamese food with the locals, then be ‘forced’ to eat until your stomach is full!

One of the key elements of Vietnamese culture is food. Essentially, learning how to cook Vietnamese food should be an integral part of your study program or internship in Vietnam The people here are extremely welcoming and accommodating to guests. They also love making food and love sharing that passion to other people especially foreign guests. Therefore, it is quite certain that when you are welcomed into a Vietnamese people’s home, you’ll never stopped being surprised by the variety of food being offered. Our interns at SE Vietnam were often astonished by the warmth and enthusiasm by their host family to help them get to know more about Vietnamese culture in general and about Vietnamese food in particular. Let’s hear from the interns about their experience cooking with the host family.

“I had a really great time with the host family since my arrival in Hanoi. In the first weekend, after my city tour of the Old Quarter with my local buddy we went to my host family grandparent’s villa on the outskirts of Hanoi and stayed the night. I got to help make spring rolls and go groceries shopping with my host mom at the local market, she also bought me pineapple because it is my favorite! It turns out my host family spends most weekends at their home, so this Saturday we will return and the host grandma will show me a new dish to make” :)

Maile Moore (Oregon State University, U.S.) Public Health Internship

Click here to follow Maile‘s upcoming adventure during her internship in Vietnam.

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Besides cooking meals, the interns were also introduced to the art of making Vietnamese favorite traditional desserts like keo lac (peanut candies) or banh troi (floating rice cakes).

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Sabrina Zottoli (Social Work and Community Development Internship) making her own hand-made peanut candies at the host family. So Sweet!

Internship in Vietnam banh troi

Our interns learning how to make banh troi (floating rice cakes) with host family

3. You get to join in all of the fun activities including outings; weekend trips, family gatherings and traditional Vietnamese festivals.

Throughout the year, Vietnam is in no shortage of national holidays. Our biggest Holiday of the year is Tet (Lunar New Year), when you come here at this time, you see a huge transformation within the urban areas as people head back to their hometowns to enjoy the holiday. This is also the most ideal time to observe traditional Vietnamese customs like going to Tet market, giving lucky money, worshiping ancestors, year end party as people prepare to wrap up the year. During other times, the host families are usually also very enthusiastic about taking our interns out to explore Hanoi and closeby areas to show them the beauty of Vietnam.

Internship in Vietnam Kaoru

Kaoru Mori (Hospitality Internship in Vietnam) was able to enjoy Lunar New Year with the host family. Kaoru taking picture with her host sister in front of the Peach Blossom tree decorated with red lucky money envelops.

Sabrina host

Sabrina getting her own “Ao dai” (Vietnamese traditional dress) to go watch New Year Blossoms with her host family :)

For most of our interns at SE Vietnam, staying at a host family during their study internship also means less overall monthly costs, more security in terms of their wellbeing, and most of the time, being around caring people really helps to relieve the unavoidable homesickness.

So… why not homestay in Vietnam?


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