10/11/2016 08:00:00

Australian students share experiences in Vietnam

Each year Vietnam hosts hundreds of Australian students, who come to the country to study and undertake internships. Here some of them share their thoughts and experiences of the Vietnamese culture, land, study and people. Following their recent externships, students share their views on Vietnam and their experiences of gaining insight into the work and study environment as well as the hospitality of Vietnamese people.

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In 2017, 340 Australian undergraduate students from 22 universities will study and undertake internships at over 30 institutions in Vietnam under the Australian Government’s flagship New Colombo Plan education programme. The programme is a signature initiative of the Australian Government to increase knowledge of the Indo-Pacific by supporting Australian undergraduate students to carry out part of their study and undertake internships in the region.

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Josey Vovers, student at University of Adelaide, experiences on streetlife

"It was amazing to see and experience the kindness of Vietnamese people especially after a history of adversity."

The number of Australian students coming to Vietnam has risen by over 35 per cent since 2016 and more than doubled since 2015, when Vietnam first joined the New Colombo Plan programme. In 2017, Vietnam will rank seventh among 38 eligible host countries and locations in the Indo-Pacific region in terms of the number of students enrolled.

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“The outcomes show Australian students’ increasing interest in Vietnam and this is a wonderful compliment to the strong and long-lasting education ties between our two countries,” said Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Craig Chittick. “I strongly believe that the new insights and understanding about Vietnam as well as new friendships that Australian students have established here in Vietnam will benefit the bilateral relations between our two countries for a long time,” he said. Following their recent externships, students share their views on Vietnam and their experiences of gaining insight into the work and study environment as well as the hospitality of Vietnamese people.

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Olivia Wilcox at School of Design, Swinburne University of Technology
"Choosing to join the Vietnam Study Tour was an incredible experience that gave an international edge to my interior architecture studies. Vietnam itself is a beautiful country with great food, world heritage sites and is full of unique cultural experiences. The highlight for me was the opportunity to visit local and international architectural firms who gave us guided tours and insight into their projects in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. We also worked with local university students on a design project, which was unique to the study tour because the language barrier meant we truly had to rely on drawings to communicate."


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Lucinda Sesta at School of Design, Swinburne University of Technology
"Our design project in collaboration with Hanoi University of Business and Technology (HUBT) was a great way to immerse ourselves in the student study life here in Hanoi. Not only did we learn about the history of Hanoi’s Ancient Quarter for our project, but we also learnt valuable communication skills as collaborating with non-English speaking students proved to be a challenge we all learnt to overcome in different ways. It was really interesting to see that through our different educational teachings, studies, learning culture and personal experiences, the HUBT and Swinburne students have very different approaches and solutions to the same design issue. Using our different strengths to the best of our abilities proved to be a success."
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Esteban Zepeda at University of Adelaide
"My Vietnam experience provided a tangible, immersive and unforgettable component to my undergraduate degree. The NCP supported programme brought us to the many frontiers of the international development industry, offering us local and contextual perspectives on policies and initiatives shaping the future of a nation. My gratitude extends to each one of our hosts for their invaluable insights, and for their kind hospitality throughout our stay."

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Alistair Cameron at University of Adelaide on his trip with Ho Chi Minh City's friends
"Despite taking every opportunity I have to travel through Asia, I have never understood a foreign nation as well as I (believe to) now know Vietnam, in particular the Vietnamese business culture. Access to different branches of industry, many of which don’t have a counterpart in Australia, was exceptional. Having travelled through developing nations, such as Laos and Nepal, I was fascinated to study in a middle income country. What would the infrastructure be like? How westernised would it be? I do not pretend it to be linear, nor to be an expert, but perhaps I have now seen enough pieces of the puzzle such that I can begin to picture possible development trajectories of a country. I truly love Vietnam, the reasons are manifold, but the most obvious is the sense of community that is ever-present in Vietnam. Groups of friends and strangers would gather for traditional teas, coffees and interact with each other in meaningful ways. Beautiful. The people are so open and honest and generous and friendly. Sadly, this is well and truly lost in Australia’s capital cities."
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Lauren Tropeano at University of Adelaide
"Vietnam was my first experience of South East Asia. It was a humid, beautiful, rewarding, friendship-building, career-confirming, and often challenging, whirlwind four weeks. Visiting and connecting with local and international NGOs provided a really unique perspective to complement the more theoretical aspects of my degree. It was also truly rewarding to interact with local people beyond the ‘tourist’ level. I ate at their table, shared their food, improved my terrible language skills, and listened to stories about their lives.  I hope it was my first trip to Vietnam of many more to come."

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Annie Murphy at University of Newcastle
"I travelled to Vietnam for a two-week externship to study the Vietnamese criminal justice system under the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan Scholarship Programme. My experiences in Vietnam will leave a long-lasting impression on me. The things I will never forget include the generosity of the Vietnamese people, the dedication of the Vietnamese Law students, the amazing culture, the delicious food, the busy streets and the buzzing night life. I feel honoured and privileged to have had the opportunity to travel to Vietnam and I have gained huge benefits from this trip. The externship involved engaging with a number of universities and participating in programmes which allowed me to gain a deep understanding of the Vietnamese legal system. Engaging with fellow law students and academics allowed me to form strong personal and professional connections with like-minded and passionate people. We participated in a number of workshops and seminars which saw us teaching Vietnamese students about the Aussie way of life and the Australian Legal System. The dedication and drive that I saw in these students was inspiring and I was extremely overwhelmed and motivated by their passion and enthusiasm to succeed.  At times it was challenging, but the skills I have gained, especially in communicating, will be extremely beneficial for my future career. I know that I will never forget my time in Vietnam and the relationships that I formed will be long-lasting." 

By Duc Hanh


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