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Working for ISP has taught me a huge amount about business environments around the world, but as Marketing Manager I needed to understand the ISP experience from the students’ perspective in order to gain a better understanding of our client’s needs. So in July, I packed my bags and travelled to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam with Westminster University from the UK.

Rather than visiting a country as a tourist, ISP provides an immersive experience that offers the rare chance to see what it is like to live and work in a country – an invaluable lesson to learn in our increasingly globalized world, where business ventures often take part overseas. The study tour of Vietnam truly exceeded all of my expectations.

As my first time visiting a developing country in Asia, I was struck by a complete culture shock – experiencing new sights, sounds, and tastes! The pace of life seemed very different to what I am used to in the Czech Republic, yet there seemed to be a special kind of order amidst all the chaos – for example, everyone had great skills in maneuvering through traffic on motorbikes, and pedestrians were fearless when crossing the street!

One of the most insightful experiences I had was, on the one hand, visiting a local factory, speaking to workers and learning about their working conditions while, on the other hand, learning about how foreign companies must adapt their businesses to the local environment. From infrastructural limitations that might delay business meetings to government restrictions on imported or exported goods, from the localization of marketing campaigns to adapting work culture for local customs and ethics, I gained a better understanding of the kind of challenges that regularly confront the expat and entrepreneurial community.

Travelling with ISP did not just broaden my horizon, but also helped dispel certain preconceptions about Vietnam that I had prior to visiting the country. Growing up in an ex-Communist country, I thought I knew what life was like under Communism, so I had expectations about what life might be like in Vietnam. Yet I wasn’t prepared for how ISP’s immersive study program would help me reevaluate my opinions and give me the kind of education about a country that would only be possible by living in that country.

So if you are travelling with ISP, be prepared to leave your comfort zone and experience the world afresh!

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