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 langua​ge 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 (especiallyGrabbike) comes in really handy. I’m also using an app called Now, which is an on-demand app that not only deliversfood,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!



NGEE ANN 

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!