Homestay Tips for Your Internship in Vietnam
Going abroad to work as an intern is not just about gaining working experience or completing your CV. It is something bigger than that – cultural exposure and immersion. One of the best ways to truly live within the culture you are going for is homestay. However, not all the time can you make the best out of homestay experience.
First impression is always of utmost importance. Vietnamese host families are hospitable, so they do not mind if you feel a little bit tired after the flight or on the first days of arrival. Nevertheless, should you show your excitement or willingness to live together, they will be more comfortable to do the same thing. For example,
In addition, it would be nice if you can prepare some little gifts from your home country. When receiving gifts, Vietnamese do not have the habit of unwrapping them right away; instead, they will wait until the party is over and enjoy the gifts themselves.
In the first meeting, everyone in the family may show up, so don’t be overwhelmed when you see three generations all at once!
Three generations in a family gathering in Vietnam. Source: tinhte.vn
During your stay
1. When in Vietnam, do as Vietnamese do.
It is common sense that when you come to or live in a foreign country, you follow national or regional cultural rules or etiquette even though you are not familiar with them. Despite being open-minded and seemingly comfortable with your behavior, some people still feel annoyed by what you do that contrasts their culture. In most cases, they will not speak out directly, but will express their feelings indirectly via their actions, speaking tones, attitudes,… Worse, you may not be sensitive enough to realize that.
2. Be open to learn and willing to adapt.
When doing internship in Vietnam, especially staying with a host family, you are surely aware of this. However, sometimes you may still find some Vietnamese habits or behavior strange, weird, or even offensive. For example, sometimes Vietnamese people are so friendly and willing to help that they automatically give you a hand without even asking, or keep asking if you need any help. You probably find the behavior annoying, but in fact, they just want to make sure that you are 100% okay!
Needless to say, there will be a lot of things that you should keep in mind, from eating habits to body gestures, from daily routines to special events. The first step you need to take is to be prepared for the unexpected, feel free to ask if you are confused, and not overreact. What you have read about Vietnam is not everything yet!
3. Be considerate and tactful.
Just like you. One of the many reasons why some families agree to host international students is because they want their children to have exposure to a native speaker of a foreign language that the kids are learning, having you at home means they all can practice bits of their English and learn more about your culture as well as show you theirs. This is a perfect chance for you all to learn from each other so make sure you don’t spend too much time in your private room after you come back from work or on the weekends and spend as much time as you can conversing and joining in activities with your homestay family. Remember, you won’t experience this twice.
Besides, as you may know, Vietnamese people attach great importance to the care and love we show to each other. Some are not used to expressing their affection by directly saying I love you, I miss you, or I care about you; instead, they painstakingly demonstrate their feelings through actions. Hence, every little loving behavior of yours can be noticed by them, which also means they are also very sensitive if you look or act indifferent.
Maile, a public health intern, cooking the meal with her host family.
When it’s time to say goodbye, make sure that you pay tribute to your host family. The gratitude you have for them can be shown in many ways, not necessarily with something material. For instance, present them a collection of photos or videos that you have made during your internship, because in their eyes, that you are happy with your stay here means they have done great job hosting you.
In general, when taking a study tour or doing internship in Vietnam, homestay always brings about great experience regardless of length or location, but can also be wasted if you do not know how to take advantage of it. Therefore, mind the smallest things, because they are what make your experience unforgettable.
Visit our Reviews page for more wonderful stories of other students sharing about their experiences in Vietnam!