Since the RMIT University was not part of our partner university, I had to apply as a ” Free Mover “. With the support and advice of MicroEDU , applying to RMIT Vietnam was quick and easy. Within a few weeks of submitting my application, I received an acceptance in mid-July 2015. Check Topschoolsintheusa for more about studying in Vietnam.
From Frankfurt am Main I flew to Vietnam with Emirates. When I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, my buddy picked me up at Tan Son Nhat International Airport. In order for exchange students to settle in well in Ho Chi Minh City and to cope with the university, every exchange student receives a buddy on request, who will be at our side for the entire semester.
Ho Chi Minh City is a turbulent city and certainly takes some getting used to for western visitors due to the noise, the heat (30-39 ° C) and the chaotic traffic. Nonetheless, these are the very things that make Ho Chi Minh City unique. The many markets, cafes, street food restaurants and the friendly and open-minded residents make life in Ho Chi Minh City unforgettable.
I settled in quickly and was able to make many contacts with other exchange students and also with local students during the first week. Since the RMIT University offers a buddy program, including a city tour, a welcome dinner and an introductory event for exchange students, you can make contacts and make new friends very quickly. At first I thought there would only be a few exchange students. In fact, there were over 200 exchange students, which positively surprised me.
The RMIT Vietnam University
The RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) is a university from Australia and is located in Hanoi (north) and Ho Chi Minh City (south). My choice fell on the latter. There are a total of 6,000 students in Vietnam and approx. 250 international students, ie foreign students who are doing a complete master’s or bachelor’s degree there. The RMIT University offers a variety of study programs and, above all, numerous courses in business administration. All courses are held entirely in English and the lecturers come from all over the world.
A form is required for accommodation in the student residence hall. This form can be sent directly with the application documents. As the demand is high, you should hurry up. I chose the student dorm, because I have already had positive experiences in a student residence hall in another Asian country and met many exchange students there. However, it was different here. This semester there were only two exchange students in the dormitory. The rest of the residents were locals. Nonetheless, I made good friends with the local students here. For the accommodation I had to pay a rent of approx. 1250 euros (including electricity and water) for a total of 4 months in advance. The rental prices vary depending on which room you choose.
The choices are: Single Apartment, Twin Bed Apartment, Three Bedroom Apartment, Five Bedroom Apartment. Each room, except for the twin bed apartment, has its own room. There are also well-equipped lounges with options for barbecuing or playing billiards. There was also a restaurant and a 24/7 convenience store in the dormitory. The reception staff was always friendly and the student residence was monitored by a well-trained security team.
Most exchange students have rented an apartment in “New Saigon” and set up a flat share. For a four-room apartment, the cost is around $ 250. There is also a swimming pool and a breathtaking view of the city.
Overall, however, I was very satisfied with the student residence. Here I had the advantage that it only took me 5 minutes to get to the lecture rooms. In addition, the sports hall is right next to the dormitory, where I regularly went to the fitness studio and took some courses (e. g. yoga). For students who stay at RMIT University for more than a semester, I recommend living off-campus, as the rooms in the dormitory are not particularly large and there is only one kitchen per floor, which is not always complete due to the large number of students was clean. But this is not a big disadvantage, because you always go to restaurants because of the low prices.
The campus and equipment of the RMIT University are very modern. In addition to the many parking spaces, there are two ATMs on campus. There is also a large gym with a tennis court, basketball court and around five restaurants serving Western and Vietnamese dishes. There are also many stalls selling coffee, tea, juices and smoothies for a very affordable price. The food in the cafeteria has prices similar to those in universities in Germany. However, the food outside the campus is not only cheaper but also better. In order to get to know Vietnamese cuisine better, it is advisable to eat outside of campus as often as possible. Most of the time it’s not the nice restaurants, but the street restaurants that offer the better food.
Each course contains 12 credit points, which corresponds to 7. 5 ECTS. So I had to take four courses to get 30 ECTS.
I chose the following courses:
Internet for Business:
There is no final exam in this course, but you had to hand in many assignments during the semester. In the first three weeks I had to do three case studies in groups and then we had to present the results of our case study analysis. This part counted 50% of the overall grade. In the ninth week, the group also had to submit an e-business plan (30%) and complete a website skill test (20%). The last test is an individual one, in which you had to create a website depending on the task. The effort for this course was very high, especially in the first three weeks. However, the content was classified as rather easy. It should be noted that the grade of this course depends heavily on the group to which you are assigned or which you start, as 80% of the course is group grades.
Product innovation and management
This course consists of two Product Development Reports (50% in total) and a final exam (50%). The content of the course can be classified as difficult, as extensive marketing knowledge is required in order to be able to write the reports and follow the lectures. It should also be mentioned that the effort for the two reports was very high during the semester. You also had to invest a lot of time for the written exam, as there was a lot to learn here. The grading of the lecturers is also to be classified as very strict, for example the best grade of the report (30%) of the last semester was only grade 3, i. e. 70%.
This course included a term paper (30%), a group presentation (20%) and a final exam (50%). The content of the course is easy to understand and the quality of the course can be assessed as good. The lecturer brought the subject matter closer to us using numerous case studies. There was also a strict grading in this course. The lecturer gave my group only 75%, although he highly praised our group in the feedback.
In this course, in addition to the final exam (50%), you had to give a presentation (20%) and write a report about a selected brand that you want to analyze. The course content is easy to understand due to the good lecturer. This also applies to the quality of the course, so I was able to memorize the content of the course, for example, because the lecturer conveyed the material in an understandable way using numerous examples.
Overall, it can be said that the time required for the courses during the semester was very high. There was always homework, presentations and assignments to do. As soon as these were done, you had to study for the exams. So you didn’t have much time to prepare for the exam. However, the learning curve for the exams was a little less than in Germany.
A lot of group work is also required from the RMIT University. These have both positive and negative sides. The group work allowed you to get to know your fellow students better and thus make contacts, so you can also get to know the culture of foreign and local students better. The downside was the Vietnamese mentality. The reports and presentations were mostly given in the last minute. Here the impression appeared that most Vietnamese students just want to pass the course, regardless of the grade. For this reason, one should be very careful when choosing team members, as it has a great influence on the final grade. As an exchange student, however, this is difficult because you don’t know anyone at the beginning of the semester.
Everyday life and free time
Since it is very hot in Vietnam, it is exhausting to explore the city at noon. The temperature here is 30 to 40 degrees. For this reason, the Vietnamese try to avoid going out on the streets at noon and go out in the evening instead. In Vietnam there are street restaurants and cafes on every corner. The cafés offer numerous juices and smoothies that are freshly squeezed from exotic fruits. Especially drinking coffee on the roadside in the evening and watching the people and the city was a lot of fun. Especially in District 7, where the RMIT University is located, there are numerous foreign restaurants. Both western and many Korean. District 7 has the highest number of foreign residents in Ho Chi Minh City, so the restaurants here are a bit more expensive than in other areas of the city.
In Ho Chi Minh City there are also numerous places to inquire about, for example the many temples, the markets (especially the Ben Thanh Market) and museums. You can also go on weekend trips, for example to the Mekong Delta or to the beach (Vung Tau).
Getting around can either be done by scooter or by taxi. Many exchange students have rented a scooter and explored the city. An alternative to this is the taxi or the “Motorbike Taxi” (so-called Xe Om).
Since the food in Vietnam is extremely cheap, the cost of living is low. You can go out to eat well for the equivalent of one euro (approx. 25,100 VND). In the cafeteria, Vietnamese dishes cost 35,000 to 65,000 VND (~ 1. 40 to 2. 60 euros). Western dishes, on the other hand, are available from 70,000 VND (~ 2. 70 euros). But even in the more expensive restaurants you spend at least 100,000 VND (~ 4 euros) per dish.
Expectations regarding the stay abroad
My expectations regarding the stay abroad were exceeded by far. Vietnam is a very interesting country and there are so many things to see in Ho Chi Minh City that you can’t get bored. The semester at RMIT University was very exhausting and there was always something to do. Most exchange students and also locals have only taken three courses (equivalent to 22. 5 credit points). This is understandable, since you have a lot to do with four courses and have significantly less free time. Because you were constantly busy during the semester, you could memorize the material better and understand it better. With only one final exam – as is the case in Germany – you usually only learn for a short time and forget the material again. However, this is not the case at RMIT University. In addition, the many group work has led to that you can greatly develop your ability to work in a team because you work with students from different countries. On the other hand, I could make many friends with locals during the semester, with whom I still have contact now.
Furthermore, it should be mentioned that the university tries very hard to ensure that the exchange students settle in well. Questions about studying and everyday life were answered very quickly by the university. And the buddy team takes excellent care of the exchange students. In addition, the university organizes an event every year at which international students present their country (International Day). On this day traditional dishes can be tried and musical performances from different countries can be watched. For this purpose, the university provides a stage on which plays or music performances are presented.
The contents of the lectures were always brought closer to us by means of case studies and most of the lecturers were very committed and always made sure that the students worked well during the lectures. My lecturers were able to memorize all the names, which positively surprised me.
Most Vietnamese students are open-minded and interested in exchange students. It was therefore easy for me to make friends and to do something with my fellow students even after the lecture period. As I lived in a student dorm, I had more contact with locals than with exchange students, which I found very good as it allowed me to learn more about Vietnamese culture.
After my four-month stay in Vietnam, I can only recommend the semester abroad at RMIT University. Since the content of the individual courses is at a high level, you can develop academically as well as personally and there is nothing to criticize with regard to the stay abroad.
Exchange students shouldn’t worry too much about hygiene, safety and culture shock. Instead, one should read carefully about Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City is a relatively safe city and especially in District 7 it is hygienic and the culture shock is exactly what makes a stay abroad interesting. I also recommend openness to Vietnamese cuisine. Try as many dishes as possible because Vietnamese cuisine is unique and very good.
For students who also want to explore places outside of Ho Chi Minh City, I recommend either taking fewer than four courses or traveling around two weeks after the semester. Vietnam is a very impressive country with many different and beautiful places, such as Hanoi, Hue, Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Hoi An and Da Lat.
When choosing courses, students should be very careful, as they are very different in terms of level and also depend heavily on the lecturer. Students are offered three to five lecture periods per course, which can then be selected. There are also several lecturers for a course. At the beginning of the semester I recommend asking the buddy which lecturers and courses are good and adapting my choice accordingly. In the first week you can change the courses or the group within the course. This time should be used well.