Practical Advice

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Internships Advice, Practical Advice

Managing Stress, Isolation, and Mental Health in the Remote Workplace

According to a Buffer survey, around 21% of remote workers stated that loneliness was their biggest struggle with working remotely.

Remote work certainly has its benefits. Many employees and interns enjoy the freedom, autonomy and flexibility of remote work, as well as the time saved each day that might have been spent on a commute to the office. Even just one extra hour a day can make a huge positive impact on our well-being!

In addition, the peaceful and quiet environment of working from home can boost our creativity and productivity. Without the endless distractions of the office, remote workers are often more productive.

However, when the world suddenly shifted to remote work amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies and individuals were not ready for such a massive change. The reality is that despite numerous benefits like an enhanced work-life balance, working remotely is completely different from working in an office and thus presents its own unique challenges.

The end result can be increased difficulty in connecting to colleagues, often resulting in a sense of isolation, loneliness, and stress. Coupled with the physical distance, another issue is the cultural distance that can arise when working for an overseas company. Every country has its own unique work culture, which means that culture shock can still be an issue even as a remote intern or employee!

Keep this in mind as you complete your remote internship or search for remote work, and keep reading for our tips on managing isolation, loneliness and stress!

How to Manage Isolation and Loneliness

According to a Buffer survey, around 21% of remote workers stated that loneliness was their biggest struggle with working remotely. However, 90% of the same group also admitted that they intend to work remotely for the rest of their lives. Again, the benefits of remote work have been shown here to outweigh the potential negatives. However, 21% is not an insignificant number, and employers should ensure that isolation is addressed within their organization.

What are the differences, if any, between isolation and loneliness, and how can they be managed in the remote workplace? 

To put it simply: isolation is structural, and loneliness is emotional.

Reducing stress and taking care of our mental health is the most important priority right now more than ever.

Reducing isolation is the responsibility of the employer since it relates to a lack of access to the materials or information that employees need to perform their job. When workers’ development or achievements are ignored, they will begin to feel isolated from the business. Managers must address isolation by integrating remote workers deeper into their organization and involving them in strategic meetings. In addition, if remote workers are unable to access the tools and resources they need, managers should find a solution.

On the other hand, loneliness is the emotional response to a lack of personal connection with colleagues. Unfortunately, this phenomenon does not only affect remote workers but also plagues in-person offices. Managers can address this by creating low-stakes opportunities for meaningful connections within the virtual workspace. Individuals can combat loneliness by following these simple tips:

Change Up Your Workspace
  • Although working in a quiet room by yourself can be wonderful for your productivity (especially when engaging in creative work) the simple act of changing up your remote workspace can do wonders if you’re feeling lonely! If it’s safe and possible to do so, consider working remotely from a coffee shop, library, bookstore, or co-working space. This way you can be around other people while you work, even though they may not be your colleagues!
Go For a Walk
  • We know, this is probably the most basic and standard advice that you’ve heard time and time again. But that’s because it works! Next time you’re feeling lonely or emotionally overwhelmed at work, that means it’s time for a break. Take 10 minutes to walk outside and get some sun and fresh air. Not only will the physical movement help reduce stress levels, but you might see some friendly faces outside as well!
Keep Water Cooler Talk Alive
  • If your remote company is not already using an instant message platform like Skype or Slack during work hours, encourage them to start! Icebreakers, work-related discussions, and updates that take place in real-time can help everyone to feel connected. This form of communication is more casual than email and can improve collaboration, creativity, and innovation.
Turn Camera’s On
  • During formal and casual online meetings, keep your camera on! In the remote workplace, this is the closest we can get to face-to-face interaction. While it may feel alien or more intimidating than an in-person chat, seeing your colleagues will help you feel more connected.
Network
  • Social networks like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook can be great tools to get to know your colleagues or other people in your industry. Don’t underestimate the impact of using these tools to stay connected!
Have a pet be your “coworker”
  • This tip may not be achievable for everyone, but if you already have a pet or have the resources and capacity to adopt a furry (or scaly/feathered) friend – do it! When all else fails, having a pet around while you work can be very calming. Pet coworkers are the best emotional support, and you’re never truly alone when they are around!
Ask For Help
  • If you’re still struggling with feelings of loneliness, we recommend speaking to a trusted friend, family member, mentor, or even colleague. When that’s not possible, there are also countless online resources available at the end of this blog for support by trained volunteer counsellors. Reaching out to others for help is often the best solution.

Tips to Reduce Stress & Boost Mental Well-Being

The world has collectively lived through some of the most stressful times in recent history due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the end is in sight, we haven’t yet reached the return to “normalcy” that we all desire. Reducing stress and taking care of our mental health is the most important priority right now more than ever. 

While one could write an entire series of novels on how to reduce stress and boost mental well-being, here are a few of our tips to consider.

Limit Media Exposure
  • Can you relate to the feeling of constantly checking the news to learn all about the pandemic? While it helps to stay informed, try to reduce how often you check the news to once per day – or better yet, once per week! The ideal number will vary for everyone, but your stress levels will thank you for not dwelling on the situation.
Stay Connected
  • Not only do our remote work loneliness tips apply here, but staying connected to your friends, family and loved ones as much as possible is vital for reducing stress! Social support is so important for building resilience during stressful times. Think about ways you can stay connected to your loved ones, and set aside the time to reach out!
Move Your Body
  • You’ve probably heard that movement is closely tied to mental well-being. But how and why? Well, it has to do with our “fight or flight” stress response, as well as our modern lifestyle. In the past, when our ancestors encountered a stressful situation such as a dangerous predator, they had two options: fight the predator, or run away from it. Both responses involve strenuous physical activity, which is the body’s way of regulating excess cortisol (the stress hormone). 
  • Nowadays, stress is often triggered by work, school, and other non-physical stressors, leaving us to deal with the repercussions of excess cortisol. This is why exercise and movement are so important for stress relief. Studies show that regular exercise helps reduce how much cortisol is released due to stress. So stay active – but do something you love so you can stick with it for the long term!
Get Enough Sleep
  • Stress and sleep have a symbiotic relationship with each other. When we’re stressed, it can affect our sleep quality. And when we’re not sleeping enough, it can increase our stress levels. The typical advice is that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep per night – but 8 or 9 hours can be even better depending on the individual. 
  • Some simple techniques to help improve the quality of your sleep include: exercising for at least 30 minutes each day, reducing exposure to stressful news or other triggers around bedtime, stopping caffeine intake at least 6 hours before bedtime, and creating a nightly routine like turning off your electronics, reading a book, and drinking chamomile tea.
Practice Mindfulness
  • Mindfulness refers to the ability to be fully present in the moment, without attaching strongly to worries about the past or future. This ability can help us reduce stress, increase gratitude, and practice self-acceptance.
  • Some techniques to practice mindfulness include meditation, taking mindful breaks, gratitude journaling, creating art, and engaging in physical activities that induce “flow state” consciousness (ie. mindfulness) – many surfers, skateboarders, and runners frequently experience this!
Seek Balance
  • Are you overwhelmed with juggling school deadlines, internships, part-time jobs, and all your other responsibilities? Researchers at the University College London found that people who work more than 55 hours a week have a 13% greater risk of heart attack and 33% higher risk of stroke than those who work only 35-40 hours per week. Humans aren’t meant to constantly work!
  • As difficult as it may be, try to find ways to balance your schedule and devote more time to self-care, socialization, and fun. Burnout is a devastating result of ‘hustle culture’, so resist the narrative, and take care of yourself first!

Need Extra Support? Resources Here!

At the end of the day, our mental health and well-being is our most precious asset. We hope that this blog has given you some helpful tips and advice that you can implement right away. 

However, we’re certainly not the experts, and there are countless resources available to help you manage stress, isolation, and mental health in the remote workplace and life in general. Some of our favourite resources are listed below, including links to free and instant chats with trained volunteers who can provide support right away. Take a look and be well!

Watch
  1. Student mental health: Depressed and living in a bubble of one – BBC News
  2. How To Prevent Burnout While Working From Home – A Day in Time
  3. Self Care Video Playlist – The School of Life
  4. Pagoda Projects Mindfulness Webinar (with Meditation Session)
  5. 5 TED Talks to help you manage stress
Read
  1. Information & Support – Mind.org
  2. Tips for Managing Isolation
  3. COVID-19: Managing Stress in This Anxious Time
  4. My whole self: supporting your mental health while working from home
  5. What are the 5 stages of burnout?
  6. Self-help and Self-care Resources – LifeLink
Relax
  1. Free Audio Resources for Mindfulness Meditation
  2. Self-Compassion Guided Meditations and Exercises 
  3. Headspace App
  4. Calm App
  5. Insight Timer App
  6. Wake Up / Wind Down Short Podcast  – Spotify
LGBTQ+
  1. MindOut LGBTQ Mental Health Service
  2. Workplace Mental Health for LGBTQ+ Professionals
  3. Rest for Resistance
BIPOC
  1. Mental Health Fact Sheet with Resources – Rethink.org
  2. Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students’ mental health support – Mind.org
  3. Free Subsidised Services – BAATN The Black, African and Asian Therapy Network
  4. Free Mental Health Services  – Black Minds Matter
  5. TherapyforBlackGirls
Instant Support
  1. Student Space (UK): Free text message, webchat, phone, and email support for students from trained volunteers
  2. Together We Are Strong: International helplines
  3. Time to Change (UK): Several mental health help and support service lines
  4. Crisis Text Line (UK, Ireland, Canada, USA): Free text message support from trained crisis counsellors 
  5. Beyond Blue (AUS): Free instant 24/7 chat and phone support by trained counsellors 
  6. MindSpot Clinic (AUS): Digital mental health clinic for Australians with free mental health assessments for anxiety, stress, depression, etc.
  7. Eheadspace (AUS): Free online and telephone support and counselling to young people aged 12-25
  8. Lifeline Australia: Free online text and phone support for emotional distress
  9. Togetherall (NZ, UK): An online community where members can support each other
  10. Empower Work (USA): Free text support for Americans who need help with work-related issues

Sources

  1. How to Manage the Loneliness and Isolation of Remote Workers
  2. How to Combat Loneliness and Disconnection as a Remote Worker
  3. Water Cooler Talk: 6 Benefits For Your Remote Team
  4. Does Running Help Reduce Cortisol?
  5. How Simply Moving Benefits Your Mental Health
  6. How Much Sleep Do I Need?
  7. How Does Stress Affect Sleep
  8. The ‘Rise and Grind’ of Hustle Culture
  9. Only the overworked die young
Internships Advice, Practical Advice

Guide to Getting Your First Job

“Don’t let the fear of striking out hold you back.” – Babe Ruth

We’ve all heard that the stereotypical path to career success follows these steps: 1) go to college, 2) graduate, and 3) get a job. But the reality is that the job application process after college is not always so straightforward. In fact, obtaining employment is often difficult for various reasons that may be out of the applicants’ control.

For example, many employers these days demand more skills from their employees and are less invested in training those skills. This means that young adults are largely responsible for acquiring those skills on their own, and they are often not taught these skills in college as higher education struggles to meet the rapidly changing demands of the market. Cost-cutting has also resulted in Fortune 500 companies abandoning their “rotational training programs” that allowed new hires to learn about different departments and jobs within the company.

“We’re asking 23-year-old new graduates to act like 35-year-old experienced workers.” – Phil Gardner, Director of the Michigan State Employment Center.

In addition, approximately 60% of all jobs are now found through networking, or what is referred to as the “hidden job market.” Gone are the days our parents enjoyed when they could apply to a dozen newspaper job advertisements, land several interviews, and receive a few job offers. In the sea of thousands of online applicants and over-educated yet under-experienced college graduates, it is now possible to apply to a hundred jobs and receive exactly zero interview offers.

Job Search Statistics & Recommendations

While it’s not all gloom and doom, it helps to be aware of the current state of the employment market for job-seekers. Awareness can help you realize the best course of action in order to land that first job.

  • 60% of jobs are found through networking: So we recommend growing your network as quickly and authentically as possible.
  • 75% of resumes are rejected by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) before they even reach the hiring manager: Take the time to read through a job description and the terminology used, then put those words into your resume! Steer away from confusing resume formats or designs, although this may not apply if you are in the creative industries. Simpler is generally better in order to comply with ATS.
  • 77% of recruiters rely on LinkedIn: Create a LinkedIn profile, and learn how to optimize and tailor it for recruiters.
  • 54% of employers have rejected candidates based on their social media profilesKeep it professional! It might be a good idea to Google yourself to see which information is out there for employers to see.
  • Professionally written resumes can boost your earning potential by up to 7%: Consider reaching out to your school’s Career Center for help with writing a professional resume.
  • Only about 2% of applicants actually get an interviewDon’t take it personally when you apply for a job and don’t get an interview. Only about 5 out of every 250 applicants actually get the interview, so keep applying, and remember to tailor your application!

How to Get Your First Job After Graduation

Graduating from college is an exciting time. By this point, you’ve gained an officially recognized education, started to build your network, and perhaps even gained some job experience in an entry-level position or internship. These experiences will certainly help you when transitioning into your first job within your career field. If you’re not sure where to start, we have a few tips to share!

Start Networking

We can’t stress this point enough: networking is vital! Remember the hidden job market that exists. Many jobs never make it online but are rather spread through networks. There are many methods to start networking, starting with creating a LinkedIn page. Here, you can add any previous classmates, mentors, volunteer contacts, internship supervisors, etc. Contact professionals in your chosen field that you look up to, and ask for advice or information. Alumni networks and events can also be a great opportunity to network, as can professional organizations and networking events. Get creative! But remember to be respectful and not overly pushy.

Polish Your Resume/CV and Cover Letter

Your resume and cover letter are the first impressions you get to make on a potential employer. There are countless blogs, websites, and guides on the internet dedicated to this topic alone! It can be overwhelming to sift through all the advice about resumes and cover letters, but we recommend doing some research to learn about the best resume tips. Your college’s Career Center is another great resource! Generally, if you tailor and target your resume to the job description, you will get the best results. And although it takes some time, avoid sending generic cover letters. Instead, take the time to write a cover letter targeted to the specific role you are applying for.

Consider an Internship

Remember that employers value experience and skills. Think about their perspective – if they receive hundreds of applications for one position, it is in their best interest to hire someone whose skills most closely match the job requirements. Education alone simply won’t cut it anymore. Although there are plenty of service-industry employers eager to hire students, and the soft skills gained from those roles are 100% valuable and transferable in any field, an internship is still the best opportunity to build the specific hard skills that most employers want. Talk to the Career Center at your school to see which internship opportunities are available to you, and consider a remote internship to expand your reach!

What Else Can I Do?

These are just a few suggestions out of dozens of potential tips to help you land that first professional job right out of college. If you’re still feeling lost and want the advice of experts, try reaching out to organisations such as  Elite Career Direction (ECD).

The experienced career coaches of ECD have worked with hundreds of international students and clients to help them land their dream jobs. They understand the recruitment process inside and out and have extensive knowledge of FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 companies.

Pagoda Projects also offers our very own course which is designed to help students and recent graduates develop skills directly related to their employability.

Find out more about our Employability Skills course here

 

 

All You Need to Know, How-to Guides, Practical Advice, Vietnam, Vietnam Basics

InternVietnam’s Guide to Saigon

When you travel somewhere new for the first time you can always feel a little bit ‘lost’ as you don’t know where anything is; the gym, the supermarket, the money exchange etc.. Whilst it is quite easy to find most things using the power of Google and Google Maps, sometimes you may be looking for something quite specific or uncommon; like a printing shop or a church.

We hope our ‘Saved Places’ will make it much easier and quicker for you to settle in during your first week in Vietnam!THE ESSENTIALS

Supermarkets – probably the first question we get asked is “Where is the closest supermarket to my accommodation”. Convenience stores are on every corner but to do I larger grocery shop you may need to head somewhere bigger with more choice. Click here to find a selection across the city.
Gyms & Fitness Locations – the second question we usually get asked is “Where is the closest gym to my apartment or work”. Have no fear – we have saved a huge variety of work out places on this list for you discover and keep fit whilst you are away.
Entertainment (Cinemas, Bowling etc.) – for a chilled out social occasion bowling alleys, cinemas, Go Karting, VR Arcade etc.
Services – need to find a money exchange, printer, passport photo etc. this should help
Places of Worship – if you are looking to continue religious practice in Vietnam
Health & Beauty – Spas, nail parlours, hair salons etc.

FOOD

From the Food Tour – After you’ve experienced the food tour you may want to go back again – here are all the addresses.
BBQ
Vegetarian Restaurants
Halal Restaurants
Vietnamese Restaurants

DRINK

Non-chain Coffee Shops – the fun and unique quieter ones that are off the beaten track from the chain shops
Rooftop Bars – A more expensive drink but with a view of the city above.
Craft Beer – Saigon has a lot of options for locally brewed craft beer.

If you find something in Vietnam you think we’re missing on here – then let us know!

Covid-19
All You Need to Know, China, covid-19, Manchester, Mexico, News, Practical Advice, Safety, Vietnam

Covid-19 Rolling Updates

Please refer back to this blog post for regular updates on the effect of Covid-19 on our partners and partcipants, and everything we are doing at Pagoda Projects to continue to bring you extraordinary and safe work experience.

If you’re a student signed up to one of our programmes or are thinking about enrolling and have any questions, feel free to give us a call on 0161 818 8824 or send Ali an email at ali.hashemi@pagodaprojects.com

Thanks, stay safe everyone!

PAGODA NEWS: COVID-19

Monday 19th October

We had a little success story last week as Paul Yeandle, Director of Programmes, made it back into China after nearly 7 months in Vietnam.

A few negative COVID-19 Tests and, 14 days of quarantine in Guangzhou later – Paul was back in Chengdu. Keeping a routine, home exercise, Netflix and, of course, some work and engaging Pagoda team meetings kept boredom at bay!

Paul is now back in Chengdu where he’s linked up again with the Chengdu office and remarked at the way China has gone back to business following tough lockdowns and strict measures on the borders. It’s a price worth paying, according to Paul, to return to his wife, cat, and, an open economy!Thursday 24th September

This week marked the start of our #Funded50 Remote Internship Programme where 50 recent grads or placement students have been given the opportunity to intern remotely with companies in Greater China, Vietnam and Mexico.

Pagoda Projects secured a grant from  Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to develop our online internship programme as well as a tech platform here interns can access all aspects of the programme;  internship management & support, online events and the cultural mentorship. Throughout the internship, the interns will not only gain valuable international business insight from their day to day roles but also through workshops and events with industry leaders including LinkedIn Learning.Friday 18th September

It is safe to travel to Taipei for our year-long placement programme! Our participant completed his 2-week quarantine and today completed his first day at his company, Winnoz!

Quentin had the following tips for quarantine: proactively do some remote work for your host company, keep active in your room with bodyweight exercises and commit to a couple of series on Netflix!

In Vietnam, the second wave has been well controlled and Danang, the centre of the outbreak, has eased its lockdown. The borders have become to open foreigners, but still focusing on business experts, which is similar to the situation in China. Life goes pretty much as usual in the new normal – with masks and hand sanitiser.Thursday 30th July

Unfortunately after 100 days, Vietnam has recorded it’s first community transmissions of COVID-19 in Danang City.  This has come as quite a shock to the community given how successful they had been at controlling the spread. Nevertheless, as usual, the government and people have reacted quickly by implementing social distancing, isolating those who may have been at risk of infection and contact tracing all those with possible connections.

Whilst it is a bit of a damper on the success so far, we remain confident in the measures being taken to effectively tackle this new wave of infections.Wednesday 22nd July

Somehow we are almost at August – where has this year gone? We were delighted a couple of weeks ago to host our first public webinar ‘Failures: The Secret to Success’ in conjunction with our Remote Internship Programme. We were joined with three great panelists from Zhuhai, Taipei and HCMC who shared on the challenges that they have faced to get where they are today.

As remote working / WFH has now become somewhat the norm, we enjoyed hosting a Remote Working Workshop yesterday as part of our Remote Internship Programme. As University of Dundee students come to the end of their internship after 8 great weeks, we are now joined by students from universities across Wales, England and Australia working for organisations all around the world for the next 8!

With August around the corner our UK team are looking forward to potentially heading back into their new office in Manchester. Fingers crossed!Thursday 2nd July

Vietnam has now gone 77 days without any community transmissions of COVID-19. Whilst the borders are still closed except for ‘experts’ working on projects of national significance and repatriated Vietnamese with mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival, business very much goes on as usual within the country (as does the traffic!).

All facilities, shops and services have now reopned, and since many have vacation at this time, domestic tourism is restarting with hotels, resorts and tourist attractions reopening up for business. Temperature checks and face coverings are only required in notably crowded places and there is certainly a sense of ease amogst the population towards the lower threat of the virus.

Vietnam has fantastically recorded no deaths, with the most serious patient making a remarkable recovery from the virus over the last couple of weeks.

Monday 29th June

Taiwan Celebrating NO NEW LOCAL CASES in over 88 days!
Only a few cases have been imported but contained.

Status report on daily life in Taiwan – Face masks are still required to be worn on entering public transport (metro and buses) but masks can be removed on the metro if a safe distance of 1.5 m can be maintained… Which is unlikely during rush hours!

All shops, offices, restaurants, cinemas (showing old western movies and new Taiwanese movies), parks etc are still fully open to the public. Large malls and some restaurants are still performing temperature checks upon entrance with alcohol spray for the hands.

Weather is sunny and hooooot as per usual 🙂Tuesday 2nd June

As lockdowns and restrictions have been eased slightly around Europe we have been very excited to onboard over 70 students onto our first Remote Internship programme. As interns have remotely settled into their new workday and host company throughout the week, we have held an Employability Skills Webinar and Virtual Fireside Chat with Louise Nicol, Founder and Director of Asia Careers Group.

Alongside their internship, interns have been paired with a Cultural Mentor to exchange stories and knowledge about the intern’s home country culture and their Host Company country’s culture. It’s been great to see their cultural journals, hear about their conversations and witness development of intercultural awareness.  Even the Pagoda Projects team are learning new things!Thursday 7th May

Vietnam is Back! Of course with cautious optimism, but over the last two weeks shops, restaurants, cafes and sports facilities are back open for business, with care taken to the numbers inside and the ability to safely distance. Schools are slowly going back and as Vietnam celebrated Reunification Day last week; 45 years after the end of the Vietnamese War, the country has supported each other and worked together to keep the virus at bay.

The picture is the view from famous Nguyen Hue towards the Saigon Opera house as people enjoy the cool city evenings. We haven’t been able to see this view for several years because of construction work to the Saigon metro, but this station is now finished!

Friday 24th April

A quick Vlog from our Vietnam Branch manager Vicki Offland today, chatting about the situation in Ho Chi Minh city at the moment regarding Corona Virus as successful government measures have helped keep the virus at bay which is leading to a phased relaxation of social distancing.

Vicki also reveals what Pagoda Projects has been doing to keep morale up 🙂

Tuesday 14th April

A couple of rays of good news from Taipei today!

Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced today that there are no new cases of Wuhan Coronavirus (COVID-19) to report for the first time in 36 days!
It appears the CECC’s efforts at quickly identifying, isolating, and tracing confirmed cases have held the virus at bay, for now…

Another trick up Taiwan’s sleeve is their new ‘Mask Vending Machine‘ which is being deployed across the city.
To help alleviate the queues at 7/11’s and pharmacies, the government have set up vending machines which can dispense up to 2000 masks per day! Costing only 45NTD for a pack of 3 ($1.5 / £1).

Thursday 2nd April

Our InternVietnam team are now working on developping our Remote Internship Programme for the University of Dundee from home! They are also planning for the arrival of our scheduled employability programmes in August/September 2020.

Vietnam has entered day two of a 15-day country wide voluntarily lock-down in order to prevent community transmission of COVID-19. Many of the population were already maintaining good social distancing and following government health advice. All non essential business are closed except in cases of delivery which maintain as normal and is making less inconveniences for the population.

As of today 62 out of 222 cases recorded have recovered and many business and organisations are adapting to this new way of working online through online webinar and workshops.

Friday 27th March

We are EXTREMELY excited to announce the imminent launch of a remote internship programme for our partners at the University of Dundee! The University of Dundee programme will be taking place this summer in a slightly different format. Take a look below to find out more. We will be expanding our remote internship opportunities to our other valued partners in the near future. Watch this space for announcements!

Company? – click here to find out more

University? – click here to find out more

Tuesday 31st March

Well, we have entered the second week of lockdown in the UK and seemingly more uncertain times lay ahead. All of us at Pagoda Projects just wanted to share a quick message to all our participants, alumni, partners and everyone going through challenging times.

Look after yourselves, whether that’s with crazy new home workouts,  becoming a jigsaw master or learning how to light a Zoom call like a Hollywood film set.

Friday 27th March

Although our InternMexico programmes for June & July 2020 have also sadly been postponed, our InternMexico Branch Manager James is busy planning the launch of our newest initiative from the comfort of his own home in Mexico City.

Friday 27th March

Our InternVietnam team waved goodbye to the final few participants on our Ho Chi Minh City programme this week. They are on their way home to the France, the UK and Germany, hopefully taking lots of fond memories of Vietnam with them.

All InternVietnam programmes for participants due to head out to Vietnam until July 2020 have been postponed but the InternVietnam team are still planning for some arrivals in August and September 2020!

Friday 27th March

Our Taipei team are hard at work and continuing to plan for participants wishing to embark on our Taipei programmes from September 2020 onwards.

Participants on place in Taipei are exercising caution and looking out for themselves. We are supporting these participants in their decision to either continue with their placements or to return home early, dependant on advice from official government channels such as FCO, DFAT, MFAT and GAC.

Our participant insurance policy will continue to cover those hard-working interns who are eager to stay under the current circumstances. However, we will be reassessing the safety of these participants daily in case of further developments and will remain in close contact with our insurance providers as things progress.

If you have any concerns regarding a participant currently on place in Taipei, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with Daniel (in Taipei) or Clare (in the UK).

daniel.miller@pagodaprojects.com
clare.harding@pagodaprojects.com

Thursday 26th March

Our InternChina teams are slowly emerging back into the world after a period in lock-down. Our Chengdu Branch Manager Liam is thrilled to be back working in the office again.

Programmes that were due to take place in Mainland China in April or May 2020 have sadly been postponed in light of current travel and visa restrictions.

All of our study tours along with Australian and New Zealand Government and University programmes have already been postponed. Some of the InternChina programmes that are due to take place in June, July and August 2020 on behalf of students studying in the UK may also be postponed. We will stay in close contact with the participants and ongoing applications hoping to take part on these programmes about any changes to over the coming weeks.

This includes those applicants hoping to take part on the GenerationUK Programme this year, your programme dates may be subject to change. Please keep your eyes on your inboxes for an update and thank you very much for your patience and understanding in the meantime.

Thursday 26th March

Just as our participants, alumni and faithful partner universities and companies across the world are striving to endure, adapt and thrive through the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pagoda Projects are doing the same!

From all of us at Pagoda Projects, our thoughts and best wishes are with medical workers and governments who are doing their best to heal and protect.

Get in touch:
Mexico City Streets
Before your stay, Mexico, Mexico City, Practical Advice

How safe is Mexico City?

I have just returned from a two and a half month stay in the great metropolis of Mexico City. It’s an incredibly vibrant place, every district has something new and exciting to offer. From delicious smelling Tacos, Churros and fruit stalls everywhere, to an endless selection of museums and cafes. There are also green parks throughout the city full of dog walkers and pop-up handicraft stands. But how safe is it?

Mexico does still have a bit of a scary reputation abroad. How well deserved is that reputation? Is safety something that you need to worry about when travelling there?

The answer is, sure. Every major metropolitan city in the world has its own risks and of course, all travellers should be aware of possible problems. BUT DON’T LET IT STOP YOU!

Risk Assess

Before running our first InternMexico programme we did a lot of research on the topic, with the help of our partners Fortress Risk Management and IBERO University:

Risk Assessing Mexico City from Pagoda Projects on Vimeo.

Be Prepared

As part of Orientation Week with our participants, we sat down and had a long discussion about any potential dangers or concerns and recommended precautions.

Here are a few top tips we’ve put together. I’ve also asked our InternMexico participants to reflect back on their experiences in the city:

We had a full day safety orientation day with a third party company who have talked us through potential situations. Luckily, I personally had not have to use any of those measures.

David, Hungary

TOP TIP NO.1

Uber is highly recommended as the safest form of transport for getting around the city, especially at night (on average between 29 MXN to 130 MXN/£1.20 – £5.40/$1.48 – $6.65*).

The Metrobus system is also great during the day (single journey costs 5 MXN/£0.21 GBP/$0.26*).

I felt very safe throughout my time in Mexico, however the safety briefing in the very first week was helpful as it made me aware of potential dangers in the city.

Sam, Scotland, UK

TOP TIP NO.2

Try not to carry ALL your bank cards, mountains of cash and favourite jewellery in your bag. Why not separate things out into a second wallet or purse?

Even better still leave your actual bank card behind and transfer small amounts of money onto a cash card (like Monzo or Starling) for daily use. Foreign cards are widely accepted everywhere in Mexico City (apart from some of the market stalls).

Mexico City is a safe city if you pay attention to everything and don’t do the things you are told not to do at the orientation week.

Matheus, Brazil

TOP TIP NO.3

Dumb down the bling. If you don’t stand out then you have nothing to fear! Be sociable, make friends and ask them for local advice.

Mexico city is safer than I thought. People there are friendly and outstanding.

Chang, China

TOP TIP NO.4

There’s actually a ton of advice out here on the internet. If you are thinking of heading anywhere off the beaten track, a good place to start is your government’s foreign office advice online.

It’s safe in Mexico City, but still need to be careful.

Jing, China

Be Aware

I’ll leave you with my final thoughts, so long as you are aware of your surroundings, watch out for your fellow friends and travellers, you’ll be fine.

If you have any questions about personal safety during an InternMexico programme don’t hesitate to get in touch!

*currency conversions on this blog were last updated on 6th September 2019.

Get in touch:
Daily Life in Vietnam, Internship Experience, Practical Advice

Sport in Saigon

If you’re looking to get involved in sports during your internship there is plenty you can do. Sport is becoming increasingly popular amongst locals and with some beautiful trail runs available across the Vietnamese countryside – running is the sport that is taking up fans rapidly. Not only that, but with the large foreign community flocking to Vietnam there are lots of other international sports making their mark here through clubs.

Running

At first sight you may think Saigon isn’t so well suited for running, with motorbikes everywhere, quite heavy pollution and not many pavements it does make it a challenge. However, the longer you spend here you start to find some nice quieter spots to get your morning or evening jog in. Some spaces you may enjoy running are: the newly developed area near Sala Stadium, Vinhomes Central Park, Hoa Lu Stadium, along the side of the canals.

Runclub.vn arrange group runs almost every day of the week at different areas in the city. They accommodate all levels and quite frequently are able to get discounts for marathons and trail races across the country. Saigon Hash House Harriers – Hashing exists across the globe and Saigon is no different. Every Sunday this ‘drinking club with a running problem’ head outside of Saigon for a run following a trail of paper or flour before finishing off the evening with a ‘circle’ and ‘on-on’.

Swimming

If you like training in the pool then there are quite a few options across the city, but it is worth checking opening times as some of them can be quite strange and open for 2 hour chunks throughout the day! This blog has a good variety of different pools for training and relaxing around the city.

Yet Kieu Aquatics Centre is a great 50m & 25m lane pool that is kept clean. It is VND 20,000 / VND 25,000 (on weekends) per go and early in the morning is not too busy. The changing rooms aren’t great, so perhaps be best to head home for a proper shower and change afterwards.

Saigon Swim Squad meets once a week for an hour at AIS in Thao Dien and costs VND 150,000 per session – all profits going towards charity. The class is focused on improving technique and fitness for freestyle so you need to be a pretty competent swimmer, but it is nice to train as a group.

Cycling

Cycling is becoming increasingly popular in Vietnam – but this is one you do have to get up early for to either avoid the traffic or the heat. Some bike shops such as Trisport and RidePlus may be able to rent out bikes for a couple of hours and they do frequently arrange group rides for the weekends. Trisport also arrange group triathlon practices in Sala a couple of times a month.

Clubs

Below is a list of different clubs that get together to train in Saigon. They may stop training during the holidays, or reduce sessions, so it might be worth just checking their Facebook groups or pages for up to date information or dropping them a message. Some have membership fees, some have a training cost per session, but it would be possible to discuss with them something that works for both you and the club, so that you are still contributing to training costs.

The Vietnam Swans – Aussie Rules Football Club for both male and female.
Saigon Geckos – Rugby Union Football Club for both male and female. They also arrange weekly touch rugby sessions.
Saigon Gaels GAA – Gaelic Football Club for both male and female. Their season starts again in August as they prepare for the Asian Gaelic Games.
Saigon Shooters – Mixed netball club that has social netball on a Monday night; they run two friendly leagues throughout the year.
Saigon Women’s Football Club
Saigon Australian Cricket Club

These are just a few, but you can find a lot more on Facebook if you search what you are interested in.

Other sports & gyms
If you are wanting to play some badminton or tennis then it is easy enough to book a court at one of the sport centres. There are also options for climbing, ice skating, yoga around the city, so something for everyone.

Gyms are cropping up across the city – the main chain is California Fitness but this is quite expensive. There are smaller options around the city that can easily be found using Google Maps including some that specialise in cross fit, or martial arts.

Hope this information helps you stay fit in Saigon and keep doing the sports that you enjoy!

Internvietnam - Transferwise
Practical Advice, Uncategorized

Transferwise – comment faire un virement international ?

N’hésitez pas à cliquer sur les images pour les aggrandir

Etape 1 : Sur la page d’accueil, cliquez sur “sign up” pour créer un compte
Etape 2 : Entrez vos informations personnelles pour créer un compte
Etape 3 : Entrez le montant comme indiqué sur votre facture en GBP – le montant débité de votre compte en Euros apparaitra de lui même
Etape 4 : Entrez vos informations personnelles comme inscrites sur votre carte bleue
Etape 5 : Entrez les coordonnées d’InternChina comme indiquée sur votre facture
Etape 6 : Vérifiez que le montant versé à InternChina est bien en GBP et qu’il est identique à celui indiqué sur votre facture
Etape 7  : Choisissez votre moyen de paiement – si vous choisissez d’utiliser votre carte bancaire, le transfert est presque immédiat c’est ce que nous recommandons. Si vous préférez utiliser un transfert via votre banque c’est possible en choisissant ‘bank transfer’ cependant toutes les banques n’autorisent pas les virements internationaux
  • Comparativement à un virement bancaire, le processus est beaucoup plus rapide. Généralement, tout ce dont vous avez besoin est le nom du destinataire, son adresse e-mail, son code IBAN ou son numéro de compte. Les frais sont clairement affichés, et vous pouvez les comparer avec les frais bancaires avant chaque transfert. Je ne me soucie même plus de comparer puisque l’économie par rapport à n’importe quelle banque a toujours été énorme pour moi.
  • En tant qu’entreprise britannique dont les programmes se déroulent en Asie, nous envoyons beaucoup d’argent en Chine et au Vietnam afin de financer nos programmes. Nous utilisons TransferWise pour ce processus, ce qui nous fait gagner du temps et de l’argent.
  • Pour nos participants, ils ont la possibilité d’envoyer de l’argent depuis ou vers leur pays d’origine en Asie. De plus il est possible de nous verser des arrhes si vous êtes basés en dehors du Royaume-Uni. Afin d’utiliser TransferWise, vous pouvez utiliser votre carte de crédit ou de débit pour effectuer un paiement ou transférer des fonds de votre banque.
  • Concernant les paiements internationaux, nous recommandons toujours d’utiliser TransferWise. Les paiements sont moins chers qu’avec les banques. En effet le taux de change réel – que vous pouvez voir sur Google – est toujours celui utilisé. De plus, les frais facturés sont toujours minimes. Ils sont également sécurisés et approuvés par plus de 2 millions de personnes à travers le monde. Vous pouvez vous inscrire ici.
Quelques conseils et rappels :
  • Merci de nous communiquer votre choix d’option de paiement
  • Merci d’utilisez UNIQUEMENT la devise Livres Sterlings – British Pounds – GBP – £ pour effectuer vos paiements à InternChina
  • La caution de 200£ ajoutée au tarif de votre programme vous sera reversée à la fin de votre séjour si aucun dommage n’a été signalé dans votre logement

N’hésitez pas à nous contacter directement et nous essayerons de vous aider au mieux pour utiliser Transferwise !

Daily Life in Vietnam, Internship Experience, Practical Advice

Questions sur mon séjour au Vietnam – FAQs

Partez-vous bientôt au Vietnam ? Nous avons regroupé quelques réponses aux questions que vous pourriez vous poser ! 

Argent

  • La monnaie vietnamienne est le dong vietnamien (VND). Pour vérifier les taux de change, nous vous recommandons d’utiliser le site xe.com.
  • Vérifiez avec votre banque avant de partir si vous avez des frais de retrait ou paiement.
  • Il est facile d’échanger des euros au Vietnam. Nous vous conseillons donc d’emporter des Euros avec vous. Vous pouvez aussi partir avec un peu de monnaie locale pour votre arrivée.

Logement

  • Vous pouvez arriver 4 jours avant le début de votre stage – le jeudi – et partir de l’appartement 2 jours après la fin de votre stage – le dimanche.

Avion

  • Vous pouvez réserver vos billets d’avion dès que vous avez trouvé un stage et signé notre formulaire de réservation.
  • L’aéroport international de Tan Son Nhat est le seul aéroport de Hô Chi Minh – vous devrez donc arriver ici.
  • InternVietnam recommande d’utiliser notre partenaire officiel STA Travel pour réserver vos billets. Ce sont les leaders mondiaux dans l’organisation des vols pour le Vietnam pour les étudiants. Obtenez votre devis gratuit pour les vols internationaux requis directement ici.

Passport

  • Vous devez être munis d’un passport valable au minimum 6 mois après votre arrivée au Vietnam.
  • Votre passport doit contenir au minimum 2 pages blanches.
  • Il doit être en parfait état, ni taché ni déchiré.
  • Pensez à nous envoyer une copie de votre passport au plus vite. Pour que nous préparions les documents nécessaires à l’obtention de votre visa.

Visa

  • Nous vous donnerons tous les documents nécessaires à l’obtention de votre visa. Il vous faudra les emmener avec vous et remplir un formulaire.
  • Nous prenons en charge les frais liés à l’obtention du visa.
  • Vous obtiendrez votre visa à votre arrivée à l’aéroport. Il vous faudra être muni des documents fournis par notre équipe, le formulaire à remplir au préalable, deux photos d’identité , et de votre passport.
  • Notre équipe vous donnera plus d’informations 4 à 6 semaines avant votre arrivée.
  • Si le processus de demande de visa évolue nous vous tiendrons au courant.

Assurance

  • L’assurance santé et voyage est prise en charge par InternVietnam pour vous sur la durée de votre séjour.
  • Vous recevrez les documents sur l’assurance avant votre arrivée. N’hésitez pas à les réclamer si besoin.

Vaccins et médicaments

  • Aucun vaccin n’est obligatoire pour le Vietnam. Nous vous conseillons cependant de vérifier cela avec votre médecin avant de partir. Vous pouvez aussi vous rendre à l’hopital et prendre un rendez-vous avec le centre des vaccinations pour être sûr.
  • Vous pouvez trouver du paracétamol partout au Vietnam. Si vous avez des médicaments plus spécifiques, nous vous conseillons de partir avec un stock pour la durée de votre séjour.
  • En cas d’allergie ou de diabète, nous vous conseillons d’emporter 2 crayons à insuline ou EpiPen.

Valise

  • Copies de votre passport et documents nécessaires à l’obtention du visa dans votre bagage à main
  • Ordinateur
  • Adaptateurs pour les prises
  • Médicaments avec les ordonnances
  • Déodorant, désinfectant pour les mains et autres produits de toilettes
  • Pour les filles : des tampons qui sont difficiles à trouver à Ho Chi Minh
  • Pour les personnes de grande taille : emportez vos chaussures et vêtements. Vous risquez de ne pas trouver de chaussures ou vêtements à votre taille
  • Vêtements simples et formels pour votre stage
  • Un costume/tailleur/tenue classe pour un rendez-vous important ou une soirée importante
  • Vêtements de pluie et chaussures imperméables en cas de pluies intenses
  • Répulsif à insecte et crème solaire
  • Tongs ou claquette pour l’intérieur de votre logement
  • Vestes et pulls légers . En effet l’air conditionné peut être trop froid dans certains endroits
  • Masque anti pollution pour vos trajets en taxis
  • Serviettes de toilette

Téléphone et applications

  • Pensez à débloquer votre smartphone avant de venir. Sinon la carte sim que nous vous fournirons risque de ne pas fonctionner.
  • WhatsApp et Facebook seront les applications utilisées par notre équipe pour vous contacter durant votre séjour et stage.
  • Grab est l’application pour commander un taxi.
  • Vietnammm est une application pour commander à manger en ligne.
  • Xe Currency pour pouvoir convertir la monnaie.
  • Google translator ou un autre système de traduction.

Plus d’infos

  • Dans l’avion avant d’arriver il vous faudra renseigner votre adresse de résidence à Ho Chi Minh. Vous pouvez utiliser l’adresse de notre bureau.
    94 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
  • N’oubliez pas de remplir vos documents pour l’obtention du visa avant de prendre l’avion. Ainsi en cas de questions nous serons donc en mesure de vous aider, sinon il sera trop tard.
ho chi minh city river at night
Daily Life in Vietnam, Practical Advice, Vietnam Basics

Ho Chi Minh City’s 24/7 Accessibility

Ho Chi Minh City, also called Saigon, has many things do offer during the day time as well as during night time. If you need urgent medical help or just want to buy some snacks late at night, you can find it in Ho Chi Minh City 24/7.

Shopping

Shopping malls are mostly opened till 9 – 10 pm but many small convenience stores are opened 24/7. You can find most of the elementary products there if you need it in the middle of the night. Inside most of the 24/7 convenience stores or nearby them you can find ATM s where you can withdraw money anytime you want.

Citymart in Vietnam

Eating

There is no problem to find food place in Ho Chi Minh City at any time of day or night. Most upper and middle class restaurants work only until late evening but you can enjoy food from small restaurants and street food at night.

Transportation

Moving around Vietnam takes a lot of time, so choosing overnight travel might be a good option. If you want to go from/to Ho Chi Minh City to/from other cities or just around the city, you have choice of taking plane, train, bus, taxi or motorbike. Vietnam Railway Systems (VRS) and The North – South train are providing good quality connections across the country also during night. You can buy tickets directly at the train station or, if you need English service, some websites and travel agencies are providing it. The taxi and bus are relatively slow, as the traffic in Ho Chi Minh City is extremely heavy. Good alternative to taxi and bus for going around the city is motorbike (you can get it as a taxi, rent it or buy – if you’re staying for longer).

Alternatively, you can rent a car. It is easy – requires only passport and valid driving license. The car rental company might only accept international driving license or one in common language such as English or French.

grab moped taxi in vietnam

Entertainment

The most popular (non-stop) party place in Vietnam is Pham Ngu Lao, well-known amongst backpackers as it’s comparatively cheap. If you’re looking for some more fancy clubbing places popular within young people, then you should check out clubs in District 1. If you’re a fan of Karaoke, you will be able to find a few places where you can rent a room at any time.

Healthcare

Hospital Symbol

In case you need urgent medical help, those places have 24/7 emergency service with English speaking doctors: Family Medical Practice Clinic, Franco-Vietnamese Hospital, International SOS Clinic, Columbia International Clinic and Hospital (3 locations), Cho Ray Hospital, Emergency Centre. For urgent dental cases you can seek help in Victoria Healthcare Dentist Department in District 1. 24/7 pharmacy can be found in Family Medical Practice Centre and International SOS Clinic.

a picture of vietnamese food
Practical Advice, Vietnam Basics, Vietnamese Food

Dietary Requirements

Life would be so much easier if everyone liked to eat everything or could eat everything. I know my life would, but, like many people, there are some things that I don’t like and others I can’t eat because I am allergic. There are so many dietary requirements in one’s life that you have to be careful, especially when you are not cooking yourself. When you go to a restaurant and order something, it is hard to know what ingredients they use exactly.

Vietnamese food is full of fresh ingredients and spices. If you are planning on going to Vietnam and you have specific dietary restrictions, this blog may help you get through.

It is ok! You don’t really have to eat EVERYTHING there is. There are several reasons why someone doesn’t eat a specific type of food. It could be allergic reactions, religious reasons or simply because you don’t like it.

Allergies

I hate it when I start eating something and all of the sudden my entire body starts itching because of something I ate (a lot of times I don’t even know what exactly). Others react very differently from me. Sometimes you could have a serious reaction to it, so you have to be careful.

I am allergic

Vegetarian / Vegan

Many of us have chosen to live a certain lifestyle and we all have to respect it. Vegetarian restaurants are really common in Vietnam, as there is a large Buddhist population. It means that being a vegetarian is not a big deal!

It is important to know the Vietnamese word for vegetarian (chay) and that would get you through. You can make any Vietnamese dish into a vegetarian dish like phở chay, bánh xèo chayhủ tiếu chaycà ri chay, and so on. Or say “Tôi ăn chay”, which means “I’m vegetarian” or, if you are a vegan, “Tôi là người ăn chay trường”.

I don't eat meat

Religion

In some religions, certain animals are sacred like the cow in Hinduism. In other cases, for example in Islam is forbidden to eat pork.

I don't eat beefI don't eat pork

But also in Judaism you can find dietary restrictions. Jews are only allowed to eat Kosher.

Only eat kosher

Or if you simply don’t like a certain time of food you just simply say “I don’t eat (type of food)” in Vietnamese “Tôi không (…)”. For example,

I don't eat seafood

 

There are many other dietary requirements and restrictions. Don’t be afraid to try new things. You never know if you like something if you haven’t tried it!

Come and apply for an internship with InternVietnam. Apply now!