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I’m Louis, a 21-year-old final-year Business and Management student at BU entering my final year, I knew that I wanted to say ‘yes’ to everything and really make the most out of the opportunities presented to me.

When I received the email from BU informing me of the Vietnamese placement opportunity, I knew that it was an offer I had to seize. Opportunities like this were the reason I chose to study at Bournemouth University. With strong industry ties and organisational links, such as the British University Vietnam (BUV), Bournemouth University provided me with the real-world practical experience I wanted from Higher Education.

Inspired by my parent’s international work, I always knew from a child that I was eager to work a job overseas. The thought of immersing myself in another culture through working alongside another nationality seemed exciting. With everyday challenges such as language barriers and cultural differences, I knew the personal growth I would experience attributable to long-term mobility would be life changing. Jumping into the deep end did seem daunting, but it was a true hidden catalyst for my maturity and independence, which I am now so grateful for.

Attending the BU x BUV meeting on campus was the first proper step in my internship process. Meeting the staff at the BUV from Vietnam and listening to their introduction to the opportunity sounded fantastic. After progressing with my application and communicating back and forth with BU and BUV, I was sent across my company, Appota. I spent the next few hours researching their business and working culture and was so impressed that I dedicated the next 24 hours to modifying my CV and writing a cover letter.

Involved in the preparation for my mobility was securing the Turing Scheme funding. Not only was this funding extremely helpful for my internship, but it was easy to acquire due to the support offered by the International Grants team at BU. As my internship was unpaid, the Turing Scheme provided me with financial security to make the most out of Hanoi.

Even though Vietnam is the complete opposite to the UK, both culturally and environmentally, I didn’t feel too homesick because I went into the experience with an open mindset. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that was temporary, so I didn’t want to limit it because I missed home. Building a community of people is critical in settling into a new location.

Upon starting at my company, I said yes to every social event to help make connections and a network. I believe this was the main reason I settled in so quickly. People were eager to spend time with me and share their food, making me feel part of the team from the get-go. As a foodie, eating in Hanoi was one of the most exciting parts of my trip. Vietnamese cuisine is one of the world’s freshest and most delicious cuisines. Exploring the city solo also produced some of my trip highlights. Hanoi has such affordable nightlife with fantastic dining experiences, live music and aesthetic bars.

I assumed a role in Appota as a Business Development Representative for my internship. This role was beneficial for me as it was relevant to my major and allowed me to practise the skills I had developed throughout university whilst acquiring new ones in a practical setting. The most prominent highlight of working for Appota was its working culture; the workforce was young and chilled, meaning everyone worked well together.

Even though there was a language barrier, staying patient and courteous allowed any challenges to be overcome. Although I sat next to co-workers who were proficient in English, I tried to learn as much Vietnamese from them as possible. They taught me essential phrases and pronouns, which made Hanoi more accessible for a non-native speaker like myself.

Because of the foundations BUV and Appota put in place, I always felt like I had people to talk to and spend time with, making it feel like a true second home. During my mobility I frequently visited the BUV. My greatest achievement throughout my internship experience was the relationships I built. I believe I have made friends for life. Even though Vietnam is a long way from the UK, I know I will continuously be in contact with them and visit. I am so thankful for these relationships and the professional skills I have learnt.

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