By: Jess Warren
So, you’re thinking about working in Vietnam? I’ve just come back from spending two months interning in Ho Chi Minh City for the expat-orientated magazine, AsiaLIFE, and it was one of the best ways I could have spent my summer. Instead of being sat at home, I was out gaining valuable experience in industry I’m looking to work in.
Working for a magazine for two months was also a pretty good way to see the city. Instead of being in the office nine-to-five each day, I was tasked with finding stories across the city, and interviewing interesting people, from business owners to government staff. I had the chance to work remotely, and was trusted to manage my time efficiently, and turn in the articles on time, without needing to be in the office. A pretty good way to grow my own time-management and organisational skills.
Living in Ho Chi Minh City is a bit of a whirlwind, the traffic is constant and chaotic, with bikes passing you by at every angle. If you’re up to it, travelling across the city via Grab (a ride hailing service for bikes) is a fantastic opportunity. Of course, take all the necessary safety precautions such as covering your legs and arms and wearing a better helmet than they provide. My employer gave me a helmet to use, and I would fully recommend making the minor investment.
The strangest thing about living abroad for two months was the considerably lower living cost, it actually turned out to be more expensive to buy western food items in a supermarket and cook at my apartment compared to eating lunch and dinner in small eateries and restaurants. This meant I had the opportunity to try out a variety of cuisine. Whilst you might think Vietnamese food is the only option, it’s far from the truth. In fact, Ho Chi Minh City has restaurants featuring every food from around the world, and done to a very high standard. At the end of my street, I had a pizza takeaway run by an Italian man from Naples. However Vietnamese food is incredibly fresh and delicious, so I would fully recommend.
The one thing that made my experience even better whilst living abroad was joining expat Facebook groups, and going to local events. I stumbled across a trendy arts café about five minutes from my apartment, where locals performed live music, stand-up comedy and there was even a magazine launch party there. By embracing living abroad, I found so many more opportunities outside of my working day. I joined a group and practised yoga in a local park situated on the riverbank, and I followed recommendations of places to see and go from the people I met. Instead of seeing your internship as a temporary ‘holiday’, I found the best way to view it was that I was living abroad in a city I would call home for two months.
Interested in applying for an internship just like Jess’? Then apply now!
– By Charlie Smith and Adelle Offerman
Arrival in Qingdao
We knew we were coming to China four our internship in the middle of winter… And we knew to bring our warmest of clothes… But there’s not much you can do to prepare a group of Australians for the sub-zero temperatures when they step off a plane in Qingdao!
The Qingdao winter breeze was living up to its name, our fingers were beyond numb, and it wasn’t long before we invested in some gloves.
Despite the temperatures, it was a very warm welcome in the city we would call home for the next five weeks.
We were so lucky to have a lot of help from our friends at InternChina. Without any Chinese language skills, we would have been pretty lost – we wouldn’t have known what to eat, how to order or even how to get around!
They passed on a lot of essential local knowledge – like to look for a red light when hailing a taxi, and the fact you can’t really trust the green man when crossing the road. Some other things we learnt the hard way like most public toilets don’t have toilet paper – safe to say, we now always BYO!
The Internship at REDSTAR
We feel we got really lucky with our internship placement at REDSTAR – a Qingdao-based magazine for expats and visitors to the area. We get to see some of the best spots in the city to write reviews and create content for the magazine. So far, we have had the chance to write articles for the upcoming issue learning about Chinese culture and in particular the upcoming Spring Festival.
Our supervisor has not just been there to oversee our writing, but has also been an incredible tour guide to some of the best local lunch spots, including fried dumplings, Chinese savoury pancakes, and lamb soup. We are so grateful to have had him!
Traditional Hot Pot experience !
One thing we weren’t so sure about was the traditional Hot Pot, which we agreed to try for work. Luckily, we weren’t told what the “delicacies” were until after we had tried it… pig’s esophagus, goose intestines and cow penis were just a few. It was a memorable experience to say the least and we would it is a must try when in Qingdao… We are told you can have less scary delicacies when at the hot pot, which we are looking forward to trying at our next InternChina Thursday dinner (a great way to meet up with other interns and the InternChina team every week).
Conclusion of this experience…
Our work has been busy but has been so diverse that it hasn’t felt like work, and our weekends have been even better with the InternChina sightseeing trips.
So far we have snapped the views, walked the pier and enjoyed the coffee street in the Old City, and hiked the incredibly beautiful Fushan Mountain in the heart of the city.
Qingdao is a city that is growing so quickly, and our first two weeks have gone by so quickly too! We looking forward to telling you about the rest of our internship and adventure in Qingdao!