How to Avoid Feeling Homesick during your Internship in Vietnam
Living away from home is never easy, especially when you come to a country whose language you can’t even speak. You definitely have to make challenging adjustments in your daily life and get through unfamililar processes. However, the more challenges are presented while you are abroad, the more opportunities for you to grow and develop your adaptibility.
At some points along the adventures of navigating and arranging your life in Vietnam, you would probably feel homesick and think about those days where worries is hardly your business. When that time comes, here are some tips to alleviate the bad feelings of homesick and make the most out of your time in Vietnam.
1. Develop relationship with locals
Our Nursing Intern – Sandra, Medical Intern – Andrew hanging out at the beach with their local buddies.
You probably heard that Vietnamese is famous for being one of the friendliest people in the world, right? Yes, you did not hear that wrong. Vietnamese people have a very strong connection with their family and relatives; they believe “the more the merrier”. Therefore, they have a tendency to feel sympathetic for expats who live far away from home and oftentimes, and even if they don’t know you personally, they will try their best to offer help and even invite you to a family meal (we have more to talk about the dynamics of food and people’s relationship among Vietnamese later). Proactively building relationships and initiate conversations with locals around you do not only make your experience in Vietnam more diverse, it also helps you alleviate from the unavoidable homesickness being alone abroad.
2. Avoid tourists hubs
Yes it is comforting and it makes you feel much more at home coming to a place where you can meet your people or at least people who speak the same language that you do. But seriously, stay away.
It is tempting to go to places with many tourists like Bui Vien Backpackers Street, but the advice is stay away. Photo: tuoitre.com
Keep in mind that you are here in Vietnam for the “local” experience and most touristy areas do not correctly represent the real Vietnam as they are very likely to have been modified and shaped to foreigners’ taste or preference.
Staying where the locals are means you are outside of your comfort zone and that improves your adaptability to the new life in Vietnam. Just like starting a new sport, getting familiar with a new country (and feeling less homesick) requires patience and perseverance. If you are not strict enough with yourself, you will slowly slip back into the comfort zone of having the same food, watching the same T.V shows and doing the same activities like back home.
3. Try to learn the language
So what if you are not at home and people around you speak in funny accents? You tried to order something on the menu and the waiter couldn’t understand and you have to resort to pointing? You want to hear the office gossip and why the people on your team won’t stop giggling at some of the things you do? Here is the solution; you can try to learn Vietnamese! And I don’t mean you have to be all fancy and fluent in the language, just pick out phrases you think you hear people say the most or phrases that will be useful when you try to buy something compliment on the co-workers’ new outfit. Practice every day and you’ll see that killing the language game does not only mean you’ll make more friends; you will also receive admiring looks from locals once you speak to them in their language.
Hanging out with locals is one of the best ways to learn Vietnamese.
4. Live in an apartment, not a hotel!
Yes, it might be a hassle to find yourself an apartment especially if you are here for a considerably short time; however, it’s usually worth it. You will have your own space where you can freely decorate, and maybe try grocery shopping and learn to cook some delicious Vietnamese dishes yourself. One more plus of staying at an apartment is that you will essentially be living among locals, with locals and that gives you more exposure to the real life in Vietnam, not just the fancy dining and entertainment places around touristy areas. You will not only be distracted by so many things going on around to think about home, you are also likely to be having a neighbor whom you can talk to or even hang out with.
5. Limit communication with those at home
Unless your mom is worried about you living alone abroad and request to Skype with you every day, frequent communication with those back home will most likely reinforce any symptoms of homesickness. Try to shift focus on developing relationships in your new home, exploring the local culture, and enjoying your new lifestyle.
The first few weeks, and days that you are here, it will be difficult no doubt to not think about home, so remember to take things one step at a time. Try your best to adjust a little more each day, to the new city, culture, climate, and cuisine, and truly immerse yourself. Do think about home, but not to the point where you miss the chances of exploring and enjoying the new country for what it is about.
Let yourself immerse in the adventure of life in Vietnam and you’ll be able to see the amazing sides of Vietnam like our intern, Maile.
Photo courtesy: Maile Moore
At SE Vietnam, we take care of our interns’ well-being in Vietnam and have extensive experience in doing so. All the logistics involved in setting up a successful internship in Vietnam such as internship placement, visa support, airport pick-up, finding an apartment (for as short as a one month internship), local buddy support, Vietnamese lessons, orientation and so on. All will be taken care of by SE Vietnam, and you don’t have to take our words for the quality of our services. Here are REVIEWS from our previous students/intern about their internship experience.
SE Vietnam is an experienced internship provider with a network of over 500 partners companies and educational institution all over Vietnam and our extensive experience of catering internship services to students from over 15 countries in the world. Our goal is to help as many young people have as many deep, transformative, and profound educational experiences of an internship in Vietnam as possible. With our Individual or Group Internship Program, you won’t have to look for an internship or explore and navigate your internship in Vietnam alone, but rather, with us. You will be accompanied by our local buddies team to open up and let loose, to learn Vietnamese slangs, to spend more time out and about taking awesome pictures home. We want to help you be the hero in your story, and we’ll be here after it’s done to get you connected with our network of international students and share your new insights with future adventurers. Read more on our Short-term Internship and Group Internship Services.
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