Guidelines for Living and Doing Internship in Vietnam (P.1)
Your summer internship in Vietnam is coming near but you still don’t know what it’s really like in the country where you’ll spend a big part of your summer? Or you feel like taking an internship in Vietnam this coming fall or winter but haven’t made up your mind? One huge contribution to your decision is the knowledge of Vietnam that you’ve got. Besides all the basic information about the country and its attractive travel opportunities, you may also need to know the real life of a foreigner living in Vietnam. Are you ready to figure that out?
If you are working as an intern for one month or longer in big cities such as Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, the two most popular options are: home-stay and renting a private/shared apartment. For the former choice, the advantages are more exposure to the living culture in Vietnam, more security and less likelihood of loneliness or homesickness. However, it is not as comfortable as the latter one with regard to individual freedom. For example, you may have to go home before 10pm, or are advised to have breakfast with the entire family. Of course, no host family forces you to do anything that you’re strongly opposed to, but you’d better follow their habits and customs. Living in an apartment, however, means you can do whatever you want up to your own schedule!
Sabrina, one of Student Exchange Vietnam’s intern, with her host mother.
In case you’re just a traveller, without any stable accommodation, a wide range of choices are in your hands: home-stay, hotels, hostels, couch-surfing,… Couch-surfing is a new form of accommodation suitable for those who are not afraid to spend one night in a stranger’s house (simply in a couch, or in the rooftop). And the entire service is totally free of charge! Sounds great huh?
Couch-surfing rest. Source: facebook.com
When it comes to this category, you can free your mind off worries, as Vietnam is a paradise of food, especially with Hanoi recognized in top 10 Asian food cities and Sai Gon in top 23 best street food cities in the world. If you only stick to the food you eat in your homeland, there are plenty of restaurants that provide food from different cultures in the world! Otherwise, welcome to the food heaven – a country that has one new dish invented almost every day, thanks to its diversity in cultures, ingredients, demands, styles of gastronomy,… Of course, there are some certain cuisines that are unmissable and highly recommended by anyone who has ever tried them, like pho, bun cha, banh xeo,… And guess what? They are all found on the streets! It’s not unreasonable to claim Vietnam is the hub of street food.
Banh khot (shrimp in batter) in Sai Gon. Source: exoasia.vn
Vietnamese “che”. Source: crownspace.vn
But what if you’re a good cook and you can cook in where you’re going to live? Supermarkets or convenient stores are always accessible in almost every corner of the city. What’s greater, you can also go to markets where fresh meat, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits,… are available. In Hanoi, one of the biggest markets is Dong Xuan Market, right in the center of the capital. Leaving the North to the South of the country, you’ll be welcomed with floating markets in Mekong Delta!
A floating market in the South. Source: pinterest.com
Markets are just not where to sell and buy stuff, they’ve been part of Vietnamese culture for centuries, even in big cities. One more thing when you go to the market, there is no price tag, so you’d better off learning how to bargain, which would really become one of your most interesting memories during your stay here.
Travel and transport
Okay, you shouldn’t be too surprised when seeing that the streets are filled up with motorbikes especially in rush hours. If you are doing internship for at least one month and living on a tight budget, reaching the working location that is not within walking distance can be done by bus. Therefore, it’s best if you buy a monthly bus fare, so you can economize all your expenses here. Now, Hanoi has a new bus system (BRT – Bus Rapid Transport) which has its own lanes, together with an aerial railway being under construction. Other transport alternatives are taxis, motorbike taxis, bicycles,… With the expansion of transport services such as Uber or Grab, it is much easier for you to get wherever you want in time of need.
But if you really want to experience the biking in Vietnam, find yourself a local buddy who can support you, as you don’t have a driving license. Biking is not only the most convenient way to travel within the city, but also a great means of transport for phuot, which means going places by motorbike.
A couple going “phuot”. Source: dulich.wikihoidap.com
Those are some basic impressions and expectations you should have before arriving in Vietnam. The upcoming article will go further into how to manage your relationships in the country, as well as how to make the best out of your experiences!
It’s time you considered taking internship in Vietnam, or if you have already made up your mind, be prepared and excited!
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