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OH THE PLACES THEY'LL GO



From quirky anecdotes to useful travelling tips, these students take us on a journey of fuelling our wanderlust. Get inspired as they relive memories of their adventures with us!

First stop, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam! It’s becoming a home to a large digital nomad and entrepreneurial crowd in the city. Our Global Entrepreneurial Internship Programme (GEIP) students are acclimatising so fast that they are calling Vietnam their new home. If you’re planning to intern or travel there, check out what they have to say before going there!  

Melissa Ng, Business Information & Technology, Year 3

Melissa signed up for GEIP because she felt that she could benefit from personal growth living abroad. Independence and self-reliance will come through, as she navigates a different culture than that of Singapore’s. The six-month internship will expose her to a different worldview while tackling the challenges at work. 

 

Hey Melissa! How’s it going in Vietnam? 
My internship has been quite fulfilling so far! Even though we’ve only been here a month, it feels like we’ve been here longer than that. Honestly, this place feels a lot like home now that we became so accustomed to the culture here.

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What's the name of the company? 
The company I’m working in is called CirCO, specialising in co-working spaces.

What are you currently up to in the company?
My job scope on paper is marketing. Since it’s a start-up firm, I do a lot more than just marketing as well. For example, I help plan and execute all kinds of events, from 20 guests to 2,000 guests. We’re currently working on an upcoming tech fair that involved our marketing team (including myself) to manage timelines, invite guests, and design collateral – literally almost everything that is required to run an event from start to finish!

What are some of the most useful phrases you’ve learnt in the country’s native language?
cảm ơn means thank you in Vietnamese. I feel that this is really handy for interpersonal communications because it’s always important to be polite, wherever you are.

Another to note is that there are honorifics to indicate the age. For example, when addressing a female who is older than you, she ought to be addressed as chi, which means sister, along with her first name.

Counting numbers is also quite important in the locals’ everyday lives, especially when they are dealing with money. Many good local stalls (where you get authentic Vietnamese flavours) are operated by locals who can’t speak English. Picking up some basic numbers like one, two three (một hai ba) is useful to overcome the language barrier!



Did you experience any culture shock?
A little! Of course, I did some research prior to my arrival. Yet, nothing shocks me more than the traffic in Ho Chi Minh City. The traffic is almost busy all the time and there are barely any traffic lights, unlike in Singapore. Whenever I cross the roads, vehicles just kept coming without stopping. I figured that I would just have to keep moving. Otherwise, I would never get to the other end of the road.

Any challenges experiencing a life of independence?
It’s been going well so far because I’m quite independent by nature. At times, I just have to remind myself to be more self-disciplined!

Do you feel homesick though
Yes. That goes without saying. It’s never easy being away from home. I miss my loved ones but hey, there’s always Skype!

What are some of the apps you’ve used during your internship?
Public transport isn’t efficient here so Grab (especially Grabbike) comes in really handy. I’m also using an app called Now, which is an on-demand app that not only delivers food, but also medicine and cosmetics. Plus, it allows you to request for footwear, helmets, house, and laundry cleaning services.

Best thing you’ve eaten/Best thing you’ve experienced
Public transport isn’t efficient here so Grab (especially Grabbike) comes in really handy. I’m also using an app called Now, which is an on-demand app that not only delivers food, but also medicine and cosmetics. Plus, it allows you to request for footwear, helmets, house, and laundry cleaning services.

TOP 3 THINGS TO DO IN THE CITY


1. Café-hopping

If you’re visiting Ho Chi Minh City, I’d recommend café-hopping on foot because there are many quirky cafés and boutiques tucked in non-descript corners. If you’re travelling on a bike or car, you’ll tend to miss out on these hidden gems. Don’t be deceived by the dull façade because you’ll be amazed by the charming interiors of the cafés. Think Chronicles of Narnia.

2. Ben Thanh Market

It’s quite a tourist attraction with marked up prices out to rip the tourists off. Yet, it’s still worth an experience.

​​3. Pham Ngu Lao

Pham Ngu Lao is great too if you’re into the nightlife experiences. Where there are rows of pubs and bars lining on the street, there are food stalls to keep your bellies full too!



Lastly, what’s the piece of advice for people who want to intern overseas? 

Take the leap of faith. Do some research about the company you’re interning for and the country you’re living in. Just come prepared and it will pay off! 









Noraisyah Binte Mohammed Wahid, Business & Information Technology, Year 3

As Noraisyah packed up her life in a suitcase, she was prepared for independence in the next six months abroad. Getting lost in translations, ordering a meal in a broken language, or forging new friendships with other peers, her life in Ho Chi Minh City was only going to get exciting from then on.

Did you regret making the decision to intern in a foreign land?
No, I don’t. In fact, I was excited to learn more about the Vietnamese culture! I couldn’t wait to start a life of independence and meet people from different countries around the world. Working in a start-up is different from working in an MNC because you get a chance to accomplish everything from marketing, finance, website, designing, etc. Conversely, I don’t think I’ll be able to get an experience like that if I intern in Singapore. Plus, I’m able to learn so much by venturing beyond what I learned from my diploma. Furthermore, I’m working very closely with my boss, who can share experiences with me.

What’s the name of the company you are interning for?
I’m currently interning at Hillhouse, a company that provides test prep services for university entrance exams.


What are you up to so far?   

What I’ve learnt from working in a start-up is that everyone is not dedicated to a role only. You just have to wear multiple hats and do everything! Lately, I’ve been tasked to design and maintain the company’s website. There are times when I found myself stuck at work, so it’s important to take the initiative to learn. Designing the website can be hard. Thanks to some contextual knowledge about coding in my diploma course, I was glad to put those theories to use when I was designing the website. Apart from that, I also helped generate leads and gather information during events, to entice students to join our demo classes. Hillhouse also has social media platforms that help promote test prep services for university entrance exams. I had been involved in filming and editing the videos that are posted on social media.

Any challenges living independently?  
Personally, the most challenging part of living independently is managing the budget. If you’re a lone wolf with no culinary skills like me, chances are that you’ll eat out more often. So it’s definitely important to plan out your monthly budget and divide them accordingly to avoid overspending.

What are some of the useful phrases you’ve learnt in the country’s native language?
cảm ơn is the most overused and rather useful phrase I’ve learnt in the country’s native language. Well, it’s simply because I can’t understand most of what the locals are saying, it’s probably polite to say thanks with a smile!

What are some of the apps you’ve used during your internship?
Vietnammmmm – it is a food delivery app that we often use to order our dinner. What I love about this app is because most descriptions are in English and there’s a variety of food to choose from.

Best thing you’ve eaten/Best thing you’ve experienced?
Not that I want to be clichéd, I really do enjoy eating pho the most! A bowl of rice noodles, the kind of simple pleasure that’s located near my office. Alternatively, there’s the Vietnamese pancake (or banh xeo), and spring roll.

TOP 3 THINGS TO DO IN THE CITY


1. Ben Thanh

It’s a marketplace to buy local handicrafts, branded goods, Vietnamese art and other souvenir.

2. Flea Market

Catered for the shopaholics!

​​3. Củ Ch Tunnel

Experience the underground life of Vietnamese soldiers back in 1948. The site has over 120km of underground tunnels with trapdoors, living areas, just to name a few. ! 



What’s your advice for people who want to intern abroad?  

Always keep an open mind if you wish to intern abroad. Most importantly, don’t hesitate and go for what you believe in. The overseas experience will certainly help you become more independent, more adaptable and sociable, while broadening your horizons!