The life of a BSBG architectural technologist intern in Vietnam

Anel Shakir is currently in the midst of completing an internship with BSBG in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The BSBG Vietnam office features a real mix of nationalities, including Vietnamese, British, Australian, German, and also a Bulgarian – Anel. She is currently studying on the Architectural Technology and Construction Management (ATCM) Bachelor’s course at the University of Northern Denmark, and so we thought who better to get the inside view from on what it’s like to move to Vietnam, work on exciting architecture projects and adapt to a new language, food and social life? Here’s what she had to say:

The BSBG Blog: How did you begin working with BSBG in Vietnam?

Anel: “I wanted to go abroad for my internship and I was applying mainly in Germany, Austria, Dubai and Turkey. My main purpose for wanting to go abroad was to see if I could use my knowledge from Denmark in other countries. I accepted an internship position at a Danish construction company. Then, unexpectedly we received an email to say that BSBG is looking for an architectural technology intern in Vietnam. And I told myself: ‘That’s it girl, apply for it. This is your chance!’ And so today I am here!”

The BSBG Blog: What have you learned from being with BSBG so far?

Anel: “I’ve learned how to really be a part of a team, which is something they really value here. You can really feel it. I’ve also learned how to take responsibility, or more specifically, initiative. I’m aware that I am just an intern with no previous experience, however, I still try to be involved in every possible task. Maybe I won’t be the best, I will make mistakes, I will fail, but this is part of the learning process. The teams at BSBG Vietnam are very talented and are always ready to help. I’m working closely with Loc Do, who is really patient with me; he gives me advice and teaches me new things every day.”

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The BSBG Blog: How does life in Vietnam compare to where you were studying? What are the biggest differences?

Anel: “Well, Denmark is the happiest country in Europe. You know that, right? Denmark has a really relaxed atmosphere, whereas Ho Chi Minh City tends to be a bit more frenetic. I think the Danes are a lot more mindful of their own health and that of the environment, so there are more people riding bicycles. Here, the traffic is pretty intense. I realised early on that if a traffic light is red, that doesn’t mean stop, just like green doesn’t mean go. Sidewalks are not only for pedestrians, bikes can also use them. Basically, expect the unexpected. The amazing thing is that it somehow works – organised chaos. Also, the weather in Denmark is really cold and windy, so that’s one of the biggest differences.”

Denmark - architectural technology Vietnam Architectural technology

People commuting in Denmark, Vs the daily commute in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

The BSBG Blog: What’s the hardest part of being in Vietnam?

Anel: “The language barrier.”

The BSBG Blog: What do you think of the food/social aspect to life there?

Anel: “Even though I mentioned that there is a language barrier, the Vietnamese are very friendly and it is easy to socialise here. Besides working at the office, I attend art workshops, photo shoots and I take part in some sporting activities. When it comes to the food, I am not a big fan of Vietnamese food. Don’t like it at all. I would prefer to stick to what I know and avoid trying new dishes!”

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The BSBG Blog: What’s been the most memorable thing that’s happened so far?

Anel: “Every day here is memorable. It’s all new for me and I’ve really enjoyed my adventure so far.”

The BSBG Blog: Which is your favourite BSBG project… and why?

Anel: “From a design aspect, I would say Bluewaters Island Residential. I really like the concept. The geometry of the buildings is simple, it’s nice to see relatively low-rise buildings in Dubai, and the design is very clear and modern. The Island itself looks like a small city. The Opus by Zaha Hadid is a real example of the phrase: ‘Nothing is impossible if you can imagine it.’ Not much more to say about it – an impressive building. I love the BSBG-designed The Edge and BLVD Crescent too.”

The BSBG Blog: What have you worked/are you working on right now?

Anel: “I have been working on the company standards, and have seen the importance of implementing these principles and requirements by working with BSBG. I’ve seen that the company continually reviews and looks to improve upon their own set of standards, and it’s taught me a lot. I’ve also been assigned to a luxury 5-star hotel project in the desirable Downtown district of Dubai, which involves checking drawings, checking the Revit model in Navis (clash detection), analysing the façade and helping to make any changes. Finally, I’ve been working on the creation and implementation of building programmes and schedules using Microsoft Project, something I was familiar with as it relates to my studies.”

The BSBG Blog: What do you hope to do once you’ve finished your internship/course?

Anel: “My plan for now is to go back to Denmark and get a Master’s Degree in Construction Management and Building Informatics while also learning Danish (I am originally from Bulgaria).”

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The BSBG Blog: Can you see yourself working in different countries in your career, or have you realised that you’d rather stay in your home country to work?

Anel: “Definitely I can see myself in many different places! In order to find what I like and where I want to work I have to know what I don’t like first. I like travelling and exploring new cultures, and I adapt quite easily to new places so don’t see myself staying in just one place – for now!”