Exchange programs are not merely educational. Most of the time, it is the exchange of culture, mindsets, experiences, and of course, weather. Like it or not, exchange students have to learn to live with the enduring climate no matter where they have chosen. Weather conditions can truly make or break your exchange experience, good or bad.
Today, we gathered our three talented 3rd year students, all from CBM, to get to know more about how they enjoyed their time abroad, come rain or shine.
NGUYEN LE KHANH @HONG KONG
Mostly sunny, a lot of winds
Le Khanh was my first interviewee, who was on exchange to Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and an interesting journey to rediscover the relationship with herself. Not to my surprise, Hong Kong has been Khanh’s home away from home for the past few months.
When I first stepped outside the airport, my first impression was: ‘Huh, this feels way too familiar.’ And indeed, the culture is extremely, EXTREMELY, similar to Vietnam's.
And so is the weather. By the time of this interview, Hong Kong was also stepping into summer, sunny with lots of wind. However, as the weather is getting hotter by the day with the sun out for over 12 hours, it could be quite a nuisance if you spend time outside a lot. But according to Khanh, Hong Kong was designed to handle the heat. As the most air-conditioned place on Earth, the majority of the buildings in Hong Kong were equipped with AC, making them the perfect getaway from the high temperature. On top of that, the temperature fluctuation is not bad with only a 5-6 degrees difference between day and night.
It was clear to me at this point that if I were to ask her if she preferred Hong Kong or Hanoi’s weather, she would probably pick the first! And it was true.
Even though HK and Hanoi share the same latitude, being surrounded by sea helps the former maintain bearable heat. In a day, while both have the same lower bound around 24 degrees, Hong Kong peaks at around 27 while Hanoi will reach 37.
Nevertheless, no matter how bad the weather could be, Khanh said it took her going away to finally see how much she loves Hanoi (probably not the heat, but still). So “enjoy the moment (while you can)!”
NGOC EMILY @SEOUL
Cloudy, 17 °C
Ngoc Emily, a junior majoring in Hospitality Management was my second interviewee. If you follow her on Instagram, you probably know that she has gone on an exchange at Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea for more than a month now. And it was great to hear that she felt all but at home in such a hectic metropolitan as Seoul.
The locals are surprisingly detail-oriented, disciplined, and not as icy as I had anticipated. The crime rate in Korea is also very low compared to other countries, so I can relax and enjoy myself here without worrying too much.
Among everything, Emily expressed great interest in the Korean streetscape which was extremely pleasing to the eye with perfect tree trimming and elaborate exterior decoration. The weather also lends itself well to some sightseeing.
It's cloudy pretty much every day. The sky is blue and clear, and the temperature is comfortably 17 degrees Celsius.
However, compared to Hanoi, Korea’s weather turns out to be more extreme. You can have four seasons in one day, warm and possibly even hot during the day but freezing cold at night, leaving you unsure of what to wear in the morning. Nevertheless, Emily prefers the weather here in Korea. To her, it’s not all about the weather but how one feels about every external environmental surrounding.
Although the weather here is more extreme than that in Hanoi, I prefer walking outside in Seoul since the streets are super clean and hygienic. Even if it rains, there are a lot of sewer drains on the street so that the water won't get clogged and you don't have to be afraid about your shoes getting dirty, to be honest.
Emily ended the interview with, funnily, a very Insta-worthy quote: Life is short, don't hesitate to do anything, because when it's all over, you will regret what you should have done and could have done.
PHAM HANH NGAN - SINGAPORE
High heat but do expect the sudden rain
The last exchange student on our first edition of “What’s the weather like?” is Hanh Ngan, who is taking an exchange semester at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. It is funny that by the time you are reading this, Ngan could already be seen at VinUni as her program had ended by the end of April.
Time flies so fast here, I feel like I haven’t explored that much about the city and the school, yet the exchange experience overall is quite nice.
Fast as it was, besides business subjects, Ngan also managed to take a course in social science in which got the chance to learn more different knowledge, meet and study with students from many other countries.
It was even funnier listening to her sharing about the weather at the so-called “Lion City.” According to Ngan, Singapore is hot all year round, pretty much like the South of Vietnam. However, it is getting in the hottest season of the year beginning from April, so during the daytime, it does feel burning hot.
Another signature of Singapore’s weather is the sudden rains that NO ONE can predict, even the weather forecast app. Sometimes it only rains for around 15 minutes and sometimes it can take up to a few hours.
It was this unpredictable rain that Ngan had a hard time getting used to. One time, after checking the app and seeing that it would be sunny the whole day, she decided not to bring the umbrella and left her clothes hanging outside. Unfortunately, the rain started pouring down one hour in and Ngan found herself, once again, rewashing her clothes. Additionally, as she usually preferred cold weather, Hanoi’s winter is still Ngan’s favorite.
Nevertheless, Singapore does have its redeeming feature: As there are many trees on the street, the heat was made more tolerable and the road is not so dense as well.
Although it was really random, the weather here teaches me to adapt and enjoy the scenes with whatever kind of weather. I learnt to explore more places to sit in when it's raining, like coffeeshops with window views, museums, shopping in small alleys, etc. and gradually feel ok to go out either when it's raining or it's hot.
Thus, whenever her friend asked her when to visit Singapore to avoid the rain, she would advise them to go whenever they want, because it’s still sunny at some parts of the days, and there are actually a lot of things one can do under the rain!
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