After I finished my Master in Atmospheric and Climate Science at ETH Zurich, I was looking for an internship abroad to aquire some practical skills and to get involved with another culture. Finally, I got accepted by IAESTE Switzerland for an internship in Vietnam.
On the 22nd of October, I arrived in Hanoi. Duc, a staff member of the International School of Thai Nguyen University, picked me up at the airport and brought me to my room in the dorm of the university. I shared the room with two trainees from Belgium. I was surprised when saw the room and my bed; there was only a 5cm thick mattress and a pillow, but no blanked. In addition, we had only cold water in our room.The next day I had the first meeting with my mentor and some other staff member. I had a hard time understanding the Vietnamese people, because of their strong accents. Fortunately, there was another trainee from the Czech Republic at the meeting. She helped me a lot, because she was already working at the university for 5 weeks. I shared the office with about ten other teachers. They were very friendly and helpful. Unfortunately, it was very loud sometimes in the office, because they were discussing things in Vietnamese. I worked on two main tasks at the university. I was teaching different subjects related to the environment as well as working on a review paper about :
« Climate change impacts on water resources in Vietnam : Adaptation strategies for agriculture and hydropower – A review ». In the first 6 weeks I taught the subject
« English for Environmental Science » for 2nd year Bachelor students together with Mrs. Thanh, who already did a IAESTE internship in Switzerland. I enjoyed teaching the classes even though it was sometimes a challenge to communicate with the students. Sometimes I had problems understanding them and other times I spoke too fast or explained things in complicated way, so they had a hard time understanding me. The organization at university was too spontaneous in my opinion. For example, I usually didn’t know the classroom number that I was suppose to teach in 10 minutes before the lecture started. At the beginning of December I was a teaching assistant for «Seminar 2» for 4th year students (the Bachelor programm is 4 years) together with Mrs. Thanh and Mr. Ha, the main teacher. In the first week of the seminar, I did two presentations: The first was about climate change and the electricity production and the second was about waste management in Vietnam. At the end of my presentation we had a discussion with the students on how to improve the electricity production and the waste management in Vietnam in order to protect the environment.
On the weekends we had the opportunity to discover beautiful places in Vietnam like Sa pa, Ba Be lake, Halong Bay, Ninh Binh along with other trainees in Thai Nguyen. Usually, we travelled by bus, which was always an interesting experience. For example, if the bus was full they would put some small chairs in the aisle to fit more people Several times, I was invited to dinner or lunch by Vietnamese people. Most of the Vietnamese sit on the ground if they are having meals together. They usually drink rice wine and of course want you to drink with them.
Overall, the internship in Vietnam was a great experience. It was my first time in Asia. In the beginning, it was though for me to get used to the culture. But once I got used to living in Vietnam I really enjoyed my time in Thai Nguyen. The Vietnamese people are very friendly, helpful and hospitable. I met some very nice people here.