From Vienna to Vietnam: Julia Mayrhofer & Laura Zipperle
Laura Zipperle and Julia Mayrhofer are two nursing interns from Austria who are wrapping up their internship in Vietnam. After a 4-month nursing internship in Ho Chi Minh City, these girls had a lot to talk about, so we sat down with them and chatted about their time here!
Adjusting to Vietnam
Upon arriving, the girls were shocked. Between the crazy traffic and hot weather, many people are caught off guard. It took some time for Laura and Julia to learn how to orient themselves in such a big city. As time went on, the girls continued to learn how to adjust to life in Vietnam. They realized the importance of keeping an open mind and being willing to ask local people for help when needed, even with a language barrier. It takes extra work, but their experience with Vietnamese people showed them how friendly and helpful the locals are. Not everything went according to plan for the girls, but they were able to learn from their few bad experiences to make their time in Vietnam a really good experience. They tried new foods, traveled to many new places, and learned a lot about Vietnamese culture!
For their internship, they worked in a local hospital in various departments throughout their time. They got to know the hospital and the daily routine of the workers. They were quick to talk about the many differences between an Austrian and Vietnamese hospitals, including the way the locals work and how the patients were treated. Here in Vietnam, almost everyone gets a two-hour lunch break, whereas back at home they were used to only 30-minute lunch breaks. As for the patients, in Austria, visitors are now allowed to stay the night unless the patient is a child and there are specified visiting hours, in Vietnam, these same rules do not apply. As Vietnam is still a developing country, the standards for hygiene are not as high as they are in Western countries, so experiences like this are eye-opening for many students who take on medical internships, these two included.
While work is the main part of why people intern in Vietnam, these girls truly made the most of their free time! During time off, they were able to explore the city a lot. They had regular spa visits and even signed up for yoga classes! They also really loved shopping here—they are coming home with about 25 new handbags in total and many, many dresses! Ho Chi Minh City is a city filled to the brim with cool and unique cafes, so they spent a lot of time exploring these and finding hidden gems. They also spent time with their local buddy who helped them find some of these coffee shops as well as some delicious restaurant spots. On weekends, they were often found heading out to their next adventure! They traveled by bus, train, plane, and even boat to explore Vietnam. Their favorite destinations were Da Nang and Hoi An. Not only are these places beautiful, there’s also plenty of great shopping, especially in Hoi An with many unique and special souvenirs and gifts.
Overall, the girls really appreciated the easy-going lifestyle of Vietnam. People keep life simple here, whereas they felt in Europe people tend to make things complicated and stressful. While it took them some time to get used to things like the weather, loud noises at night, and people staring at them*, they pushed themselves by getting out of their comfort zone and were able to change their perspective. They got to explore a beautiful country and learn about what makes it so special!
*Foreigners often get stared at here in Vietnam because not everyone here is accustomed to seeing people who look so different from them. It is typically harmless, but does take some getting used to.