Becca Travis

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Internships Advice

How Much to Budget for Living in Manchester

So, you want to come to Manchester for an internship. You may be wondering, ‘How much money should I budget for daily life in Manchester?’ Well, good news! If spent wisely, your money can get you far. Daily costs are decent and you can dine out well compared to other European destinations. Food comes at a higher price, with an average restaurant charging around £15 for a meal. Drinks can also vary with prices, but can be a little pricey with a local beer costing £4. However, if you spend your money wisely, you can enjoy everything Manchester has to offer.

For the current exchange rates, please see here. (https://www.xe.com/currency/eur-euro/)

1 USD = 0.73

1 EUR = 0.83

1 AUD = 0.52

1 CAD = 0.57

1 NZD = 0.49

**Exchange rates as of 18/02/2022

Your individual lifestyle is the main factor that will determine your budget. It will vary depending on what transportation you decide to take, personal dining preferences, nightlife and more.

WEEKLY/MONTHLY EXPENSES

Below, we have put together some budget estimates of your expenses in daily life during your time on your internship. In general, you can live on a low budget and still be able to live quite well. For those looking to spend a little more, there are also medium and high budget estimates. See which budget is right for you!

For transportation, most people use the tram, train or bus system as it is the most convenient and affordable way to get around the city. For transportation in zone 1 a single ticket is £1.40, weekly pass is £10.60 and a monthly pass is £36.40.

You can take a look at ticket and passes here: https://tfgm.com/tickets-and-passes

(For food, all apartments will have kitchens, so you will have the option to cook your own meals.) Food at supermarkets are affordable, but you may find that some discount shops such as Aldi will make your money last.

For those looking to save money while still having fun and trying new things.

Expense TypeCost per weekDescription
Transport£37Metro monthly pass (£37)
Food£40Shop at Aldi (£25); Dinner out (£15)
Treats£25One night out with a few drinks and taxi
Extras£51Going to museums/cinema
Avg weekly£153
Avg monthly£612

For those who go to the gym, eat out more or spend more in other ways.

Expense TypeCost per weekDescription
Transport£37Metro monthly pass (£37)
Food£50Mix of shopping at Aldi and market shopping (£30); Dinner out – expensive (£20)
Treats£40Couple nights out with drinks and taxi
Extras£45Going to museums/cinema/gym
Avg weekly£172
Avg monthly£688

For those who would like to spend more on cocktail bars, taxis or shopping. 

Expense TypeCost per weekDescription
Transport£37Metro monthly pass (£37)
Food£65Organic market shopping (£40); Lunch out (£10); Dinner out (£15)
Treats£60Nights out at classy clubs with drinks and taxi/clothes shopping
Extras£63Going to museums/cinema/gym/individual travel
Avg weekly£225
Travel£150Going on a weekend trip
Avg monthly£1050

As you can see, you don’t need too much money to enjoy life in Manchester. Be careful when you have a craving to buy a Pret a Manger coffee or give into temptation of using cheap Ubers to get to work instead of taking the metro. Manchester is quite an expensive city, and all the little costs can quite quickly add up. So it’s important to find the right budget for you.

For international payments, we always recommend using TransferWise. They’re cheaper than the banks, because they always use the real exchange rate – which you can check out on Google – and charge a very small fee. They’re also safe and trusted by over 2 million people around the world. You can sign up here. (https://wise.com/?clickref=1011lijaZwQY&partnerID=1100l59541&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_campaign=0&adref=&utm_source=pagodaprojects&partnerizecampaignID=1011l727)

Internships Advice

Why Understanding the Basics of a Workplace is Essential

The workplace is understood to be quite an intimidating environment for young graduates or for those that haven’t yet experienced the world of work. However, it doesn’t have to be such a daunting transition. By reading over this blog, you will be able to learn why workplace basics are essential, along with some tips and advice on how to make the best impression on your colleagues.  

So, why are workplace basics important?

Whether you are getting your foot in the door or looking to pursue that next promotion, learning and understanding how to adapt to any work environment is important both at the start and throughout your career. Not only are knowing the basics of the workplace critical for you as an employee, but also for employers themselves. Developing a workforce that understands workplace basics allows them to ‘build a competitive, productive and creative workforce that drives innovation and productivity’ (Froeschle, Theis).

 

Productivity and Well-Being

Skills such as productivity and valuing your own well-being are paramount to enjoying your work. Taking sufficient breaks throughout your working day and allowing time to rest is widely understood to increase your productivity during the work day. In turn, taking these breaks to switch off, even if for a few minutes, has shown to improve overall mental health. Happy employee, happy employer and happy work life!

If you are still curious about how to achieve a perfect work-life balance check out our other blog on the subject – https://pagodaprojects.com/creating-a-work-life-balance/ 

 

Adapting to Remote Working

For many, it is now becoming the norm to work from home on at least a part-time basis. The transition from in-person to remote work can be disorienting and it can be surprisingly difficult to adapt your home space into an office. One way in which you can successfully adapt your space is by setting a boundary from your office and home space. You could simply prop your desk in the corner of your room or make sure you don’t work from your bed or couch. This not only sets a definitive boundary, but you are more likely to be more productive in a specifically assigned work area. Another way is by taking a 5 minute break every hour of work. This is the perfect opportunity to move and stretch your limbs while you give your eyes a rest from staring at your screen.

 

Utilise Communication Tools

Communication is a vital part of any workplace. Without effective communication, tasks and projects are unlikely to make progress, or will do so at a much slower rate. Whether you are working from home or in the office, it’s good to practice effective communication, so any miscommunication and consequential problems are avoided.

Spoiler alert! In our Workplace Basics online course has numerous resources, tips and tricks to help kickstart your career and workplace knowledge. 

Utilising communication tools is one way to practice good communication. Here is a snippet of our course to show you how to use your communication tools.

Skills

There are some other useful skills to get ahead in your career path. Below are 3 top soft skills we believe are needed to make an impact in the workplace.

  1. Resilience: To work with other people can be a challenge. Not everyone is always going to be on your wavelength and it’s only resilience that can help you push through the differences.
  2. Empathy: Understanding what others are going through can also help with your workplace relationships. There will inevitably be times when your colleagues are going through a tough time, either in their work or personal life. It’s important to try and be supportive or at least sensitive, especially if you are working alongside them on a project.
  3. Learnability: Not everyone is going to understand technology or how your team works. Therefore, having the persistence and drive to learn and adapt is a sought after soft skill in any employee. 

 

Want to know more?

Pagoda Projects currently has an online course based around Workplace Basics in which you can learn everything you need to be successful in your workspace and relations. The course is included in every Pagoda programme, find out more here: https://pagodaprojects.com/skills-courses.

Resources:

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/understanding-workplace-values.htm 

https://www.highspeedtraining.co.uk/hub/importance-of-respect-in-the-workplace/ 

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13678868.2013.821267?journalCode=rhrd20 

https://www.yourerc.com/blog/post/workplace-culture-what-it-is-why-it-matters-how-to-define-it 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nataliapeart/2019/09/10/the-12-most-important-skills-you-need-to-succeed-at-work/ 

https://about.gitlab.com/company/culture/all-remote/remote-work-starter-guide/ 

Workplace Basic Skills: Employer Demands and Worker Preparation by Richard Froeschle and Teresa Theis

https://novoresume.com/career-blog/interpersonal-skills  

Internships Advice

How Much to Budget for Living in Ho Chi Minh City

So, you want to come to Ho Chi Minh City for an internship. You may be wondering, ‘How much money should I budget for daily life in Ho Chi Minh City?’ Well, good news! If spent wisely, your money can get you far. Daily costs are generally inexpensive and you can dine out cheaply compared to other destinations. Food comes at a standard price, with an average restaurant charging around 50,000₫ (₫ = Vietnamese dong) for a meal. Drinks can also vary with prices, with a local beer costing 20,000₫. However, you may want to save up some money when wanting to visit tourist locations and splash out on Western food.

For the current exchange rates, please see here. (https://www.xe.com/currency/eur-euro/)

1 GBP = 30,482

1 USD = 22,654

1 AUD = 16,440

1 CAD = 17,994

1 NZD = 15,898

**Exchange rates as of 19/11/2021

Your individual lifestyle is the main factor that will determine your budget. It will vary depending on what transportation you decide to take, personal dining preferences, nightlife and more.

WEEKLY/MONTHLY EXPENSES

Below, we have put together some budget estimates of your expenses in daily life during your time on your internship. In general, you can live on a low budget and still be able to live quite well. For those looking to spend a little more, there are also medium and high budget estimates. See which budget is right for you!

Getting around Ho Chi Minh City is a fairly easy task. Luckily, their public transit is affordable and reliable around the city, but always keep your phone tucked away. Travelling via the cyclo is a tourists’ favourite way of getting around costing 15,000. But there are plenty of other options with motorcycle taxis, buses and private taxis to take you to the city centre.

(For food, all apartments will have kitchens, so you will have the option to cook your own meals.) Food at supermarkets are affordable, but you may find that some discount shops such as AEON and Lotte Mart will make your money last.

For those looking to save money while still having fun and trying new things.

Expense TypeCost per weekDescription
Transport145,150₫Transport using scooters/bikes (15,000₫ per trip)
Food1,520,000Shop at local marts (1,430,000); Lunch out (45,000); Dinner out (45,000)
Treats425,150One night out with a few drinks and taxi
Extras155,000₫Going to museums/cinema
Avg weekly2,245,300₫
Avg monthly11,981,200₫

For those who go to the gym, eat out more or spend more in other ways.

Expense TypeCost per weekDescription
Transport345,150₫Transport using scooters/bikes and taxi
Food1,630,000₫Shop at local marts (1,430,000); Lunch and dinner with mix of Asian and Western food (200,000)
Treats1,189,850₫Couple nights out with drinks and taxi
Extras500,000₫Going to museums/cinema/gym
Avg weekly3,665,000₫
Avg monthly14,660,000₫

For those who would like to spend more on cocktail bars, taxis or shopping. 

Expense TypeCost per weekDescription
Transport850,000₫Using cars and taxis everywhere
Food1,730,000₫Shop at local marts (1,430,000); Lunch and dinner with Western food (300,000)
Treats1,300,000₫Nights out at classy clubs with drinks and taxi/clothes shopping
Extras700,000₫Going to museums/cinema/gym/individual travel
Avg weekly4,580,000₫
Travel2,000,000₫Going on a weekend trip
Avg monthly20,320,000

As you can see, you don’t need too much money to enjoy life in Ho Chi Minh City. Be careful when you have a craving to buy a western coffee or give into temptation of using private taxis to get to work instead of taking scooters. Not everything is cheaper in Vietnam, and all the little costs can quite quickly add up. So it’s important to find the right budget for you.

For international payments, we always recommend using TransferWise. They’re cheaper than the banks, because they always use the real exchange rate – which you can check out on Google – and charge a very small fee. They’re also safe and trusted by over 2 million people around the world. You can sign up here. (https://wise.com/?clickref=1011lijaZwQY&partnerID=1100l59541&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_campaign=0&adref=&utm_source=pagodaprojects&partnerizecampaignID=1011l727)

Internships Advice

Creating a Work-Life Balance

“In life, you will always be juggling spare plates with work and family but your health is the most fragile. And if your health shatters, then it’s harder to fix.” – Natalie Simpson (Talkout)

With the integration of remote working, creating a balance between work and life at home may seem impossible. In this blog, we will be discussing the possible solutions to help gain a healthy balance. 

First, the importance of such balance will not only help your mental wellbeing but also your productivity within the workplace. Projects will seem less like a chore, and your general mood will be more positive. Not only this, but you are likely to have fewer health problems. Being overworked, stressed and tired can cause our bodies to suffer. Once we do find that balancewe become more mindful and dedicated to our work. As well as being able to rest when rest is needed.

Tips for obtaining a work-life balance

Take your holiday days

Whilst having a holiday may seem like a luxury, it’s extremely important for our wellbeing to get a much needed break from work. Doing so will not only decrease stress, but it has been linked to an increase in productivity once back at work.

Implement breaks on your work days

Taking time to have a walk, a coffee break or even a stretch is good for your own mental wellbeing. Humans were not designed to stare at glaring screens for an excessive amount of time. Having that small break may not seem like a lot, but it allows you to rest your eyes and get some exercise and fresh air.

Ask for guidance

Lastly, asking for advice from your co-workers will give you the opportunity to chat and collaborate with someone. You may also end up finding a fantastic resolution to your work-life balance. To enable these talks, you can set up a meeting or put out a check-in for your co-workers. This way, you can see how your colleagues are feeling and then find out new ways to balance your work-life.

Another way in which you can look for guidance is by attending courses through companies to help you reach a good balance. Talkout is a company that provides expert training and guidance for employees to ensure their health and wellness becomes a priority in the workplace.

Talkout has trained over 1000 employees to achieve better well-being in the workplace. They have accomplished this through their highly recommended Mental Health Awareness Training Courses.

Natalie Simpson, a mental health trainer from Talkout, joined us to deliver a new webinar exploring the importance of mental health and how to find a good work-life balance. The webinar was delivered virtually and will be featured in our events library soon.

Resources:

Internships Advice

How Much to Budget for Living in Madrid

So, you want to come to Madrid for an internship. You may be wondering, ‘How much money should I budget for daily life in Madrid?’ Well, good news! If spent wisely, your money can get you far. Daily costs are generally inexpensive and you can dine out cheaply compared to other European destinations. Food comes at a standard price, with an average restaurant charging around €10-12 for a meal. Drinks can also vary with prices, with a Spanish beer costing €3. However, you may want to save up some money when wanting to visit museums and tourist locations but you can save money on entry fees if booked online in advance.

For the current exchange rates, please see here. (https://www.xe.com/currency/eur-euro/)

1 GBP = 1.16

1 USD = 0.86

1 AUD = 0.63

1 CAD = 0.69

1 NZD = 0.61

**Exchange rates as of 05/11/2021

Your individual lifestyle is the main factor that will determine your budget. It will vary depending on what transportation you decide to take, personal dining preferences, nightlife and more.

WEEKLY/MONTHLY EXPENSES

Below, we have put together some budget estimates of your expenses in daily life during your time on your internship. In general, you can live on a low budget and still be able to live quite well. For those looking to spend a little more, there are also medium and high budget estimates. See which budget is right for you!

Madrid is a huge metropolis and it is impossible to walk everywhere. Luckily, their public transit is affordable and reliable if you are living close to the city. If you are under the age of 25, then the 30-day transport ticket, which includes unlimited journeys throughout the city, will cost €20. If you are over 25, then expect to pay up to €54.

(For food, all apartments will have kitchens, so you will have the option to cook your own meals.) Food at supermarkets are affordable, but you may find that some discount shops such as Lidl and Mercadona will make your money last.

For those looking to save money while still having fun and trying new things.

Expense TypeCost per weekDescription
Transport€20Monthly transport ticket (€20)
Food€50Shop at Lidl/Mercadona (€30); Lunch out (€10); Dinner out (€10)
Treats€20One night out with a few drinks and taxi
Extras€30Going to museums/cinema
Avg weekly€120
Avg monthly€480

For those who go to the gym, eat out more or spend more in other ways.

Expense TypeCost per weekDescription
Transport€25Monthly transport ticket (€20) and taxi
Food€60Mix of shopping at Lidl/Mercadona and organic shopping (€40); Lunch out (€10); Dinner out (€10)
Treats€40Couple nights out with drinks and taxi
Extras€40Going to museums/cinema/gym
Avg weekly€165
Avg monthly€660

For those who would like to spend more on cocktail bars, taxis or shopping. 

Expense TypeCost per weekDescription
Transport€30Monthly transport ticket (€20) and taxi x2
Food€74Organic market shopping (€50); Lunch out (€12); Dinner out (€12)
Treats€66Nights out at classy clubs with drinks and taxi/clothes shopping
Extras€40Going to museums/cinema/gym/individual travel
Avg weekly€210
Travel€150Going on a weekend trip
Avg monthly€990

As you can see, you don’t need too much money to enjoy life in Madrid. Be careful when you have a craving to buy a Starbucks coffee or give into temptation of using cheap Ubers to get to work instead of taking the metro. Not everything is cheaper in Spain, and all the little costs can quite quickly add up. So it’s important to find the right budget for you.

For international payments, we always recommend using TransferWise. They’re cheaper than the banks, because they always use the real exchange rate – which you can check out on Google – and charge a very small fee. They’re also safe and trusted by over 2 million people around the world. You can sign up here. (https://wise.com/?clickref=1011lijaZwQY&partnerID=1100l59541&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_campaign=0&adref=&utm_source=pagodaprojects&partnerizecampaignID=1011l727)

Internships Advice

How Much to Budget for Living in Paris

So, you want to come to Paris for an internship. You may be wondering, ‘How much money should I budget for daily life in Paris?’ Well, good news! If spent wisely, your money can get you far. Daily costs are decent and you can dine out well compared to other European destinations. Food comes at a higher price, with an average restaurant charging around €15 for a meal. Drinks can also vary with prices, but drinks can be pricey with local beer costing €7. However, if you spend your money wisely, you can enjoy everything Paris has to offer.

For the current exchange rates, please see here. (https://www.xe.com/currency/eur-euro/)

1 GBP = 1.16

1 USD = 0.86

1 AUD = 0.63

1 CAD = 0.69

1 NZD = 0.61

**Exchange rates as of 05/11/2021

Your individual lifestyle is the main factor that will determine your budget. It will vary depending on what transportation you decide to take, personal dining preferences, nightlife and more.

WEEKLY/MONTHLY EXPENSES

Below, we have put together some budget estimates of your expenses in daily life during your time on your internship. In general, you can live on a low budget and still be able to live quite well. For those looking to spend a little more, there are also medium and high budget estimates. See which budget is right for you!

For transportation, most people use the metro system as it is the most convenient and affordable way to get around the city. For transportation in all zones a single ticket is €1.90, weekly pass is €22,80 and a monthly pass is €75,20 (half price if you’re younger than 26 years old).

(For food, all apartments will have kitchens, so you will have the option to cook your own meals.) Food at supermarkets are affordable, but you may find that some discount shops such as Lidl will make your money last.

For those looking to save money while still having fun and trying new things.

Expense TypeCost per weekDescription
Transport€23Metro monthly ticket (€23)
Food€50Shop at Lidl (€35); Dinner out (€15)
Treats€45One night out with a few drinks and taxi
Extras€62Going to museums/cinema
Avg weekly€180
Avg monthly€720

For those who go to the gym, eat out more or spend more in other ways.

Expense TypeCost per weekDescription
Transport€23Metro monthly ticket (€23)
Food€70Mix of shopping at Lidl and market shopping (€40); Lunch out (€15); Dinner out (€15)
Treats€66Couple nights out with drinks and taxi
Extras€76Going to museums/cinema/gym
Avg weekly€235
Avg monthly€940

For those who would like to spend more on cocktail bars, taxis or shopping. 

Expense TypeCost per weekDescription
Transport€75Metro monthly ticket (€75) 
Food€80Organic market shopping (€50); Lunch out (€15); Dinner out (€15)
Treats€70Nights out at classy clubs with drinks and taxi/clothes shopping
Extras€60Going to museums/cinema/gym/individual travel
Avg weekly€285
Travel€150Going on a weekend trip
Avg monthly€1290

As you can see, you don’t need too much money to enjoy life in Paris. Be careful when you have a craving to buy a café or give into temptation of using cheap Ubers to get to work instead of taking the metro. Paris is undoubtedly a more expensive city, and all the little costs can quite quickly add up. So it’s important to find the right budget for you.

For international payments, we always recommend using TransferWise. They’re cheaper than the banks, because they always use the real exchange rate – which you can check out on Google – and charge a very small fee. They’re also safe and trusted by over 2 million people around the world. You can sign up here. (https://wise.com/?clickref=1011lijaZwQY&partnerID=1100l59541&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_campaign=0&adref=&utm_source=pagodaprojects&partnerizecampaignID=1011l727)

Internships Advice

How Much to Budget for Living in Lisbon

So, you want to come to Lisbon for an internship. You may be wondering, ‘How much money should I budget for daily life in Lisbon?’ Well, good news! If spent wisely, your money can get you far. Daily costs are mainly inexpensive and you can dine out cheaply compared to other European destinations. Food comes at a standard price, with an average restaurant charging around €8-10 for a meal. Drinks can also vary with prices, but drinks are inexpensive with local beer costing €2. However, you may want to save up some money when wanting to visit the oceanarium ‘Oceanario de Lisboa’ as they can get a little pricey.

For the current exchange rates, please see here. (https://www.xe.com/currency/eur-euro/)

1 GBP = 1.16

1 USD = 0.86

1 AUD = 0.64

1 CAD = 0.69

1 NZD = 0.61

**Exchange rates as of 04/11/2021

Your individual lifestyle is the main factor that will determine your budget. It will vary depending on what transportation you decide to take, personal dining preferences, nightlife and more.

WEEKLY/MONTHLY EXPENSES

Below, we have put together some budget estimates of your expenses in daily life during your time on your internship. In general, you can live on a low budget and still be able to live quite well. For those looking to spend a little more, there are also medium and high budget estimates. See which budget is right for you!

For transportation, most people use the metro system as it is the cheapest option. Depending on the month it can cost between €20-40.

(For food, all apartments will have kitchens, so you will have the option to cook your own meals.) Food at supermarkets are affordable, but you may find that some discount shops such as Lidl will make your money last.

For those looking to save money while still having fun and trying new things.

Expense TypeCost per weekDescription
Transport€5Metro monthly ticket (€20)
Food€50Shop at Pingo Doce/Lidl (€30); Lunch out (€10); Dinner out (€10)
Treats€20One night out with a few drinks and taxi
Extras€25Going to museums/cinema/oceanarium
Avg weekly€100
Avg monthly€400

For those who go to the gym, eat out more or spend more in other ways.

Expense TypeCost per weekDescription
Transport€8Metro monthly ticket (€30)
Food€65Mix of shopping at Lidl and market shopping (€35); Lunch out (€15); Dinner out (€15)
Treats€25Couple nights out with drinks and taxi
Extras€32Going to museums/cinema/gym
Avg weekly€130
Avg monthly€520

For those who would like to spend more on cocktail bars, taxis or shopping. 

Expense TypeCost per weekDescription
Transport€10Metro monthly ticket (€40) 
Food€80Organic market shopping (€40); Lunch out (€15); Dinner out (€20)
Treats€40Nights out at classy clubs with drinks and taxi/clothes shopping
Extras€35Going to museums/cinema/gym/individual travel
Avg weekly€165
Travel€150Going on a weekend trip
Avg monthly€810

As you can see, you don’t need too much money to enjoy life in Lisbon. Be careful when you have a craving to buy a Starbucks coffee or give into temptation of using cheap Ubers to get to work instead of taking a tram. Not everything is cheaper in Portugal, and all the little costs can quite quickly add up. So it’s important to find the right budget for you.

For international payments, we always recommend using TransferWise. They’re cheaper than the banks, because they always use the real exchange rate – which you can check out on Google – and charge a very small fee. They’re also safe and trusted by over 2 million people around the world. You can sign up here. (https://wise.com/?clickref=1011lijaZwQY&partnerID=1100l59541&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_campaign=0&adref=&utm_source=pagodaprojects&partnerizecampaignID=1011l727)

Internships Advice

Bridging the Cultural Gap: Journal Entries

A meaningful cultural exchange begins with a simple conversation, and grows to completely transform mindsets in how one views the world.

It is the childlike wonderment that one experiences when exploring a new culture for the first time that makes an international experience truly international. The opportunity to be exposed to new ideas and different ways of thinking is something that Pagoda Projects continues to facilitate via a Cultural Mentorship, a key component of all internships and skills programmes. 

We match students on our programmes with their counterparts across the world (Cultural Mentors) who are prepared to discuss various aspects of their culture that our students will find interesting. Weekly topics are introduced in an engaging manner for mentors and mentees to discuss and this has proved to be a successful recipe for cultural exchange in a virtual environment.

Our students regularly update their Cultural Journals to reflect upon their Mentor discussions and learnings. The benefits are clear, not just in broadening knowledge of customs and ideas via genuine cultural exchange, but also as a cathartic activity to have a chat with a friend at the end of a busy day. Vinh from Swinburne University of Technology and Heather from Western Sydney University are two examples of students who have thoroughly enjoyed the process.

Vinh Quang Nguyen – Swinburne University of Technology (New Colombo Plan Funded ‘Engineering in the World’s Factory; China Internship Program’)

Vinh from Swinburne University of Technology gained his experience through our remote internship programme with a host company in Zhuhai, China. Hence, Vinh was paired with our cultural mentor from China. Vinh and his mentor Bella had meaningful conversations throughout his internship with a main focus on language exchange. 

“She seemed happy to continue teaching me Chinese and I was glad to do it since having a 1-to-1 lesson with her actually improved my pronunciation. She taught me numbers from 0 to 10, ‘Thank you’ and ‘Your welcome’” …. “I practised with her over and over again with the numbers and I felt like I improved so much, I was over the moon.”

Vinh had also resolved the issue of a possible misunderstanding when asking permission to take a screenshot of their Zoom call (pictured below). 

“…she didn’t understand what I said. I reworded what I said and she started to understand what I ask her and then she agreed with me eventually. I was happy to practise speaking to someone of a different culture as I was able to understand how I can word things better and using my quick thinking to ensure it comes across smoothly.”

Valuable lessons such as these ensure that students like Vinh are able to confidently communicate across cultures, having learned to be patient and reframe sentences where necessary to accurately convey meaning. This can be taken forward to minimise the chances of future mishaps occurring. 

Not only did Vinh discuss language differences but he and Bella also discussed Chinese food culture. 

“Then she went into talking about zhongzi which I learned later on that it’s a triangle shaped sticky rice. She talked about the Dragon Boat Festival and she simply explained that [it] involved Qu Yuan wanting to stop the bad people from destroying the country and he jumped into the river and die[d]. People throw the zhongzi into the river to stop the fish from eating Qu Yuan’s body. The Dragon Boat Festival is for people to remember Qu Yuan.”

By the end of his internship, Vinh had shared his appreciation for his mentor and relationships such as these are created through sharing culture. 

“I was happy to have her as my Chinese mentor and the fact that we have each other on WeChat means that I can message her anytime I need help.”

And Bella also reciprocated the appreciation of their time together during their cultural exchange.

It was very helpful and a great experience for me.” – Bella

Heather Tleige – Western Sydney University (New Colombo Plan Funded Project – Virtual internships in Taiwan and Vietnam) 

Another student, Heather from Western Sydney University, also completed a remote internship with Pagoda Projects. Because Heather’s internship was with a Vietnamese host company she received a Cultural Mentor from Vietnam.

Heather’s Cultural Journal notes provide interesting insight into the mentor side of the relationship and the motivations for taking part.

“She hopes to study further so that she may one day hold her dream job of being a tour guide. She has already worked as a tour guide in Ho Chi Minh, but Covid-19 has placed this on hold. She has been working hard from home during lockdown, and started working with Pagoda as a mentor so that she could share her experiences, her culture, develop her English skills, meet new people, and learn about other cultures. Kate is very kind, great at socialising, and has given me many insights into life in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, and the education system.”

When cross-cultural communication is delivered at a personal level while being thousands of miles apart, it allows relationships to form to the point where both parties are having conversations they may not even have with those close to home. Heather and her Cultural Mentor, Kate, decided to share their opinions on how their countries tackle mental health support.

“Vietnamese people rarely seek mental health services, and are often expected to “get on” with life. In contrast to Australia, where we have ample mental health’s services run by governments, workplaces, schools, and universities, Vietnam has few mental health services, and few people reach out to them” …. “Our discussion on stress management evoked many fascinating contrasts between Australia and Vietnam, and made me reflect on how lucky I was to have supportive networks and systems to help me when I was stressed, especially during Covid-19 lockdowns.”

Heather had many conversations with Kate surrounding culture differences over the course of her internship. Such as COVID-19…

“I learnt about how strict lockdown is in Vietnam (especially Ho Chi Minh) compared with Sydney, Australia. I’m already struggling with the current restrictions, I cannot imagine how difficult it must be in Vietnam! Kate is very strong-willed to have been going through all that!”

And the drinking and smoking cultural differences, plus trying new things

“One thing was common: men love drinking far too much. We discussed all sorts of different types of drinks, the legal age to purchase alcohol and cigarettes, and the places which it is acceptable to publicly drink or smoke.” … “We talked for far too long about coffee- and this week I will be trying to make my very own Vietnamese egg coffee- wish me luck!”

By two people sharing fascinating information regarding their respective countries, a Cultural Mentorship lifts the curtain on what to expect, building engagement and removing psychological barriers, thus acting as a pathway for future travel.   

“The cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are popular for tourists as sites of historic importance, great food, and business centres. She showed me some beautiful places to go in Vietnam, such as the beaches in Central Vietnam like Da Nang, the rural area of Sa Pa in the North, and Paradise Cave.”

Heather and Kate had a wonderful experience together and it is understood that they have developed a friendship.

“We happily spent nearly three months of the program. Every Saturday, we called [on] Zoom to share facts and daily activities of our country related to one specific cultural topic. Heather was really nice and we had a really good time together.” – Kate

 

A meaningful cultural exchange begins with a simple conversation, and grows to completely transform mindsets in how one views the world. Whilst skills relating to intercultural fluency are becoming increasingly important for employability, there is so much more to consider and so much more to be gained from the Cultural Mentor experience. 
Internships Advice

Why Digital Skills Are Important

Digital skills that employers need will be vital both to driving our economic competitiveness, and to ensuring young people can succeed in the labour market of the future. – Stephen Evans (Chief Executive of the LWI)

But what are Digital Skills? 

Digital skills are essentially what is needed to successfully use digital devices, applications and efficiently manage data. However it is being noticed that there is a significant fall in desire to pursue such skills. Examples of these skills include:

  • Programming 
  • App Development 
  • Social Media
  • Analytics
  • Vlogging
  • Editing
  • Writing
  • Engagement
  • Proofreading

And many more…

Why is learning digital skills so important?

It is estimated that less than half of UK employers believed applicants were equipped with the necessary digital skillset. And as the UK itself comes out of a Covid-19 crisis, digital skills have never been so paramount to employers and businesses. 

Working remotely has offered a way into the digital world. Offering minimal training and successfully implementing the know-how into unsuspected employees.  

That being said, younger people at school are becoming less keen on the idea of learning such basic but vital skills. A study found a decreased interest of 40% in IT among the younger generation since 2015. It is therefore no wonder that the economy is already spending billions of pounds into the supply of recruits. Without instant action, the UK economy may fall behind other global economies. 

Research has found that 60% of businesses envisioned an increase in reliance on digital skills over the next five years. As well as the majority of young people realising that such skills are essential for their future prospects. Neil Bentley-Gockmann, a chief executive of the charity Workskills UK, confirmed the necessity of digital skills. Including knowledge that other significant global economies are ahead of the UK in terms of valuing digital skills. Bentley-Gockmann had stated ‘we need to act now to ensure the UK is not left behind’.

How do we solve the issue of digital incompetency?

As expressed previously, digital competency is now needed more than ever to navigate through the online world of work. Here at Pagoda Projects, our solution to this modern issue is supplied through our Digital Competency online course. 

On the course you can expand your fluency in skills such as digital networking, marketing and presentations. With little experience needed to complete the course, anyone can take part on their own terms. The course uses a ‘pay what you can’ scheme in which you decide how much you believe the course is worth. In just under 6 hours you could have the basic necessities of digital skills needed to venture into an online workspace and feel confident: https://pagodaprojects.com/skills-courses. 

Tips for increasing digital competency:

  • Take free online courses

Allowing time to educate yourself in how to effectively use digital technologies is something you can achieve. Even by setting aside some time each day to use an online course.

  • Increase activity through your online platforms

Browsing and utilising social media such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram are fantastic ways in which you can put your knowledge to practice. Even if you increase your presence through your social media, you are still building a better understanding. 

  • Watch informative videos on YouTube

YouTube has thousands of informative videos explaining how to increase your digital fluency as well as informing you what digital fluency actually means.

  • Register for webinars based around digital technology/competency

Not only are you informing yourself about technology, but attending webinars on platforms such as Zoom allows you to ask questions directly on the topic. Webinars based around technology may also discuss the theme of digital skills. 

Resources

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/mar/21/uk-digital-skills-shortage-risks-covid-recovery-as-young-people-shun-it-courses 
  2. https://techboomers.com/ways-to-enhance-your-digital-skills 
  3. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11423-020-09767-4 
  4. https://bankingblog.accenture.com/boosting-digital-fluency-becoming-more-agile 
  5. https://er.educause.edu/articles/2018/3/digital-fluency-preparing-students-to-create-big-bold-problems 
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8i1tfrEx9R0