South East Asia

Interning in SEA: Where to choose? Part 2

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Tropical Island Vietnam

Last week we discussed some great locations to do your internship in South East Asia. However, the list does not end there of course; today we’re presenting 3 new countries, each with their own positives and negatives. Hopefully after today’s list you can make a well-rounded decision and be on your way to a great internship in your dream destination.

 

Malaysia                                                                                                                                                                                          Malaysia national flag

 

This melting pot of cultures, languages and ethnicities became independent of the commonwealth in 1957. Since then the country has developed in a lot of areas and is a great choice to intern. From beautiful nature and delicious food to a well-developed economy, Malaysia has it all. Below some pros and cons of life for interns in Malaysia.

 

Pros

 

- Developed: This former member of the Commonwealth is still categorized as a developing country, but its strong economy and developed infrastructure gives it a completely different feel from other Asian Countries. Ranked as the 3rd economy in South East Asia and the 38th economy worldwide Malaysia is one of the more developed countries in the South East Asian region and a strong player in the world economy. Because of the economic prosperity the country is relatively clean, modern and work pace is quite relaxed.

 

- Lots of Public Holidays: The number of Holidays in Malaysia is a great feature of working life in the country. Sometimes people jokingly say that if Datuk Lee wins a title at badminton the people will have a day off the next day. Being a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural country where each ethnic group brings their own holidays and festivals, Malaysia naturally has a lot of public holidays. You can use these holidays to your advantages for some nice trips or adventures with your new friends to make your experience in Malaysia even more worthwhile.

 

-  High quality affordable healthcare: Another benefit of residing in a relatively developed country is that the quality of health care in Malaysia is high, and the best part, it is very cheap in comparison to western countries. Malaysian doctors often spend part of their degree abroad to learn at the best medical institutions in the world before returning back home to put their skills into practice. Additionally, health insurance is affordable and will cover most of your expected expenses while in Malaysia.

 

 

Cons

 

- Expensive imports: For the cheese and ham lovers among us, you will probably have a hard time in Malaysia. Products that are not produced in Malaysia are rare. There are of course places where you can buy imported goods, but these are often heavily taxed which makes them very expensive. Don’t despair though, Malaysian food is delicious so it will be easier to get used to life without your beloved foreign products.

 

Malaysia Beach resort- Litter: Litter is a big problem in Malaysia. Especially in public places such as streets and beaches. This is such a serious problem that a famous national park in the Cameron Highlands had to close because of the extensive littering within the area. The government has launched some campaigns to combat the littering problem but up to today it still remains one of the biggest issues Malaysia faces.

 

- Less freedom of speech: Unlike some other countries, freedom of speech cannot be taken for granted in Malaysia. Critique on the government being it either on people or on policies can lead to heavy sanctions or even prison sentences. Another aspect where this comes into play is censorship of movies and other foreign content. So, if you’re interning in Malaysia, be sure not to offend any government related person or institution and just mind your own business instead.

 

 

Vietnam

 

The backpacker’s paradise is an amazing country to do an internship in. Life in the country is really vibrant, exciting and very chaotic. This might be overwhelming in the beginning but once you get used to it, it adds further to the charm of the country. Add in a great mix between colonial European architecture and traditional Vietnamese style and an alluring vibe prevails all around. Backpackers will often without hesitation name Vietnam as their favourite destination in South-East Asia so plenty of reason to check out the country for yourself.

 

Pros

 

- Cheap: Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are among the cheapest South East Asian Cities. Vietnam even has the world cheapest beer in the name of Bia Hoi which if you go to the right places outside of touristic areas can be found for around 10-20 cents. Other local beers are more expensive but will probably all cost you less than a dollar per bottle. Hotels and Hostels are very cheap as well where a hostel will cost you anywhere between 3.50 and 8 dollars and the cheapest hotels could even start at 7 dollar a night. Don’t forget to try some of the delicious local foods where meals start from as little as a few dollars.

 

- Diversity: Vietnam had been divided politically during the Vietnam-American war and the country’s territory spreads 1650 kilometres from north to south. This makes for big differences in culture, politics and climate between the North and the South. As such, Southerners are more direct whereas Northerners are generally more ambiguous when conveying their opinion. This diversity adds a great dimension to your internship experience in Vietnam, allowing you to explore different styles of architecture, culture and nature. For more traditional culture and mountainous areas head over to the north as for a more new and vibrant experience with higher temperatures, south Vietnam will be perfect.

 

- Not too touristic: this could be both a pro and a con but in general it can be seen as positive. If you take the traditional backpacker route (Hanoi - Ha Long Bay - Ninh Binh – Hue - Da Nang-Hoi An - Nha Trang - Mui ne - Ho Chi Minh City) you will encounter lots of other backpackers. However, outside of those places there is still a lot to explore where tourists haven’t really found their way yet. There is 85 million local people compared to 5 million tourists per year. So, there is plenty of opportunity to experience the real Vietnam without foreigners all around you. Of course, for an occasional night out there are still enough foreigners to make friends and share a drink or two with.                                                                                                                                                     Backpacking in Vietnam

 

 

Cons

 

- Healthcare: The quality of healthcare is not as good as what you are used to back home. The government currently spends around 0.9% of its GDP on healthcare and this low expenditure leads to low quality facilities and the healthcare level in Vietnam is among the worst in Asia. Many expats in Vietnam consider going to neighbouring countries for serious injuries as quality of care in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and even Thailand is often higher and still relatively affordable compared to Western countries. The government is however changing their stance regarding healthcare so hopefully in the coming years the situation will improve.

 

Vietnam road motorbike- Expensive cars: If you are a car lover then you might steer away from Vietnam. Due to government policy, owning/driving a car is heavily taxed and therefore not very recommendable. Add    in some congested traffic and it’s not a great experience after all. However, through motorbikes you can still drive around the country independently and have a great experience. Even being on a motorcycle enables you to feel and see the scenes around you in a different way and is a great way to explore the country.  

 

- Scams and Overpricing: Some foreigners feel like a walking ATM machine when travelling around Vietnam. This can be somewhat true in the more touristy parts of the country as local people will try to take advantage of your higher budget and your unfamiliarity with local prices. Always try to haggle as much as possible to make sure you pay the right price and be wary of people and intermediaries providing services for you such as buying tickets as it is often far more cheaper to buy your tickets or handle your affairs yourself.

 

India

 

Another former British colony, renowned for its large population, high level IT skills and delicious food, India is another fantastic destination in which to intern. With the economy developing rapidly, job opportunities are plentiful, opening up a wide range of opportunity for young professionals around the world. India’s diversity will make sure for an intriguing and unforgettable time. For the adventurers among us, try an internship in Kerala where you can combine an internship in an interesting field with the opportunity to explore the fantastic natural scenes around the city.             Kerala green fields

 

Pros

 

- Amazing Food: You’ve no doubt tried great Indian food before - who doesn’t like it? From deliciously spicy or sweet curries to delicious (garlic) naan breads, a delicious Indian meal freshly made by a local will surely blow your mind. While Indian restaurants can be found all over in the West, you’d be surprised at the difference between a real Indian curry – spoiler; it’s even better!

 

- Bollywood: Everybody has seen Slumdog Millionaire, one of the world-famous Bollywood productions. The Bollywood industry is the largest in the world in terms of number of movies produced. Also, you’ve probably seen spectacular video and music clips with large groups dancing perfectly synchronized. So, if you need to brush up your dancing skills India might be the right place to be.

 

Diwali Festival India- Spectacular festivals: The Indians are known to value hard work very much and it can get highly competitive at school or work. However, when the Indians relax and throw a party, they will truly party in style. A common way to celebrate in India is with great feasts, hundreds of people all dressed up, ready to party together. The greatest dishes and highlights of Indian cuisine will be offered during these days. The most famous festival is Diwali, the festival of lights, where all the people will light candles to celebrate and symbolize the inner light that protects everyone from spiritual darkness.  

 

Cons

 

- Hygiene: We all know the cliché of getting food poisoning at least once on a trip to India, and unfortunately there is some truth in this one. There are a lot of bacteria and viruses that our bodies aren’t used to in India, which to the local people might possess no harm but to tourists can be a big nuisance. You don’t have to spend your whole time in India wearing protective gear to prevent any bacteria from entering, but there are a few measures you can take to minimize your risk. Try to only drink bottled water as tap water is not clean enough to drink directly. Also, when scouting for food, don’t go for the cheapest option or street food as they might not be using the freshest ingredients. Also watch out with raw vegetables and fruits that need not be peeled, as these might provide some problems as well if they were washed in tap water.  

 

- Pollution: Many people instantly think of China when hearing pollution, but India also has huge problems regarding air quality. In fact, 9 of the top 10 global polluted cities lie in India so this signifies the problem at hand. The smog is especially prevalent in winter where cold temperatures trap pollutants close to the ground. Especially take care when travelling to Kanpur area where the leather tanneries can produce very dangerous chromium releasing into the air.

 

- Rain: India has two monsoon seasons which are named after the direction they take. The South-West monsoon season starts in June and covers most parts of the country until around September. The North-East Monsoon follows closely hitting the east coast from October until February. If you happen to live in the North-East of India, you should be aware that this region gets hit by both monsoons and consequently has the highest rainfall in the world.

The heavy rain often causes huge floods and affects the country severely, floods are the most common natural hazard in India and cause the most damage as well.

 

Hopefully after this list you have a better idea of where in South East Asia you would like to intern. If you love curries and are willing some personal hygiene for it then India is the place to be. However, if you prefer to have some more luxury and development maybe Malaysia is a good choice.

Are you ready to get started on your Asia internship adventure? Explore our program providers, or contact usto find out more about how to get started. 

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