Trainees in Bangkok
Bangkok seduces hundreds of students every year, willing to get a professional experience in Asia through an internship. BangkokVibes had the opportunity to interview two of them: Julija from Germany and Khalid from France. They accepted to share with us their own experience in this Land of Smiles.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us some words about you and your academic background?
My name is Julija Soknic, I am 23 years old and I am from Germany, Bremen. Currently I am studying International Global Management, which is focused on emerging economies. That is why I chose Thailand as my destination for my year abroad. One part consisted of one semester at the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok and the other part of a 6 month long internship.
My name is Khalid and I am 26 years old. I am a Business, Marketing and Management student. Within the last years, I studied one year in Australia, one year in Scotland and additionally, I made a 6-months internship in Thailand. I obtained a diploma in Marketing Technics, a bachelor in Public Law, another one in Business, and recently I obtained a Master in Management, Engineering and Sports Event.
Why did you choose Bangkok to make your internship? Was it a choice or a totally by chance?
Since my study is focused on emerging economies and I’ve always been interested in the Asian culture I chose Bangkok as my favorite destination and fortunately it worked out.
Definitely by chance! I just wanted to leave France for a while and get a professional experience abroad, anywhere in the world. I’ve already been in Thailand before, but only for holidays. I really wanted to discover more Thai lifestyle, so when the opportunity has emerged, I just said to myself: « Why not? ».
How was your internship? What were your missions?
All in all my internship was pretty good. The company consists of several sub-companies and I was responsible for TeamBuildingBKK. My main mission was to organize customized team-building events and corporate events for companies in Thailand. Among other tasks I was responsible for the customer relations, network extensions and of course the organizational part.
My internship was a great experience, it was really interesting humanly speaking, and being a team manager was rewarding. It was so different compare to an internship in France. I was working for the company « Amazing Adventure Bangkok » creating events for tourists and expats willing to visit Bangkok through cultural, gastronomic and sport challenges.
My main missions were:
- Customer service
- Trails organisation
- Partners management
- Creation of new trails
- Management of the team
How did you find your internship?
I was looking online for an internship position, and there I found the position that they were looking for a new intern. I applied online via E-Mail and a couple days later I got an invitation for a personal interview, because I was already in Bangkok, otherwise it would have been a Skype interview.
What about the cost of living in Bangkok?
Since I am usually from Germany, the costs in Bangkok compared to European prices are cheap. But it really depends on in which area you want to live in, how big your apartment should be etc. If you want to, you can get “European standard” but the prices will be much higher than regular “Thai standard” apartments.
Life in Bangkok is especially cheap, but it’s actually a trap for us, Europeans, since we consequently spend a lot without being careful. So the advice I could share with you can give is to watch your expenses in order to avoid bad surprises at the end of the month. Besides it’s really a place where life is pleasant and everything easy to do.
How did you get your VISA?
Before I did my internship 2017 in Bangkok, I was studying at the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok for one semester. That’s why I needed a VISA for one year. I chose an “ED Multiple Entry VISA” which you can obtain in Germany, Hamburg for 150€. After that you only need to leave Thailand every 90 days to cross borders and after that you’ll get every time a new three month long VISA.
I live far away from Paris so I contacted an agency to do it for me, since it would have been more expensive for me to make the journey twice to get to the Thai Embassy in France.
Were you helped financially? Was it a paid internship?
The internship wasn’t paid which is pretty common in Bangkok. I got financial support from my home university in Germany and from the government. German citizens also have the opportunity to get a “student credit” from a Bank with a low interest rate to finance their year abroad in case of an unpaid internship.
It was an unpaid internship. I only had a scholarship but it was not enough. I saved a lot of money before starting my internship, in order to feel financially at ease.
What did you prefer in Bangkok, and in Thailand generally?
One thing I really enjoyed in Bangkok was that you were able to do anything 24/7. Every day is a new day to explore and do something new in Bangkok. One further is, that the shopping experience is amazing! You’ll get a lot of cultural traditions but you’ll get also a very futuristic view of Bangkok at the same time.
Bangkok is at least 2 hours away from the beach, that’s why I enjoyed in general in Thailand the beaches the most. I’ve never seen buch beautiful island and beaches before in my life and they’re basically just breathtaking. And if you’re a travel-lover you’ll get a lot of cheap opportunities to explore the countries nearby like Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore and many more.
Visiting islands, travelling in Asia, were fantastic and cheap opportunities.
Did you experiment a cultural shock?
I would say I didn’t have a real culture shock when I arrived because I read a lot about Thailand and especially Bangkok before I went there. The only thing that kind of “shocked” me was the obvious difference between rich and poor in Bangkok. One the one side you’ll see a huge, futuristic and really cool malls with a lot of international shops and restaurants and some buildings with over 40 floors and rooftop bars. Then you’ll walk past it and there are so many poor people and scrapped houses. Those are one of many moments you’ll have in Bangkok where you can see and feel the huge gap in living standards which kind of gives you a culture shock.
No, not really. I adapted myself quickly to Thai culture. The hardest part was the heat, it remained hard to handle with it. Thailand is such a respectful country, you learn a lot from Thai people.
What will you definitely not regret?
The first thing that pop ups in my head is the traffic jam in Bangkok. I’ve never seen anything like it before. Crazy scooter drivers are driving in such a high speed past the cars stuck in traffic jam with sometimes four people on the scooter. But thanks to the public transportations like the BTS and MRT you’re not forced to risk your life :D.
I personally didn’t really enjoy the typical “touristy” places in Bangkok or in general Thailand. They’re just really crowded by tourists and I have the feeling those places lost their traditional and cultural touch.
I can’t see a lot of things, maybe just the fact that people hardly speak English, so it’s hard to communicate with them. There’s actually a lot of things I will miss, such as my trips around Asia, the persons I’ve met, but also the delicious Chicken Kapao !!!
What did you learn from this experience? And in one single world, how would you describe it?
My year abroad in Thailand taught me so much. It taught me how thankful everyone should be, it showed me a whole new world and it reminded me to travel the world as long as I can in order to get to know other and new traditions as well as all the new cultural aspects. And the best thing about being abroad is to meet people from all around the world.
My experience in one word would be “curiosity”.
I feel more open minded, organized, and ready to handle with any situation, even the hardest.
My experience in one word would be “unpredictable”.
Which advice would you give to a future intern in Bangkok?
My main piece of advice would be to be open-minded, respectful and to enjoy every minute. Try to learn in your internship as much as you can, try to meet lots of different people and hear their life stories. Explore all the beautiful beaches, islands, cities and and traditions with people you’ve never seen before to get memories you’ll never forget.
Enjoy Asia as much as possible, respect Thai people and their culture, learn a little bit of Thai during your stay, be careful with what you eat and drink, try Muai Thai and Oreo Banana milk shake, trust the good persons, be open minded, keep smiling and motivated.