Every year, thousands of students travel abroad to study. The majority studies in English-speaking countries such as the United Kingdom, United States and Australia. Partly because of the language and the Western culture, which we are familiar with, but also because many study-abroad and exchange programs are offered by universities from these countries. Last, but not least, these countries are traditional study destinations and have for many years been the biggest receivers of international students.
But the world is changing, which particularly was felt after the financial crisis struck the Westen world. No longer, were jobs growing on the trees. Unemployment rose dramatically. The economic downturn in the West meant that many companies, besides manufacturing in the East, now also had to prioritize the growth countries as possible markets for export. That has been new for many companies. To better prepare for the challenge, hiring employees with experience from, especially Asia, has been high on the companies’ wishlist. China has almost become synonymous with Asia. Although China is a large country, it is important not to forget South East Asia, which is another important region with a huge potential.
617 million people live in South East Asia. The gross domestic product exceeds two trillion dollars. ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the region’s version of the European Union in the seventies, experiences a rapid development that will help improve the conditions for inter-regional trade and strengthen the region’s position in the world economy. All the countries in South East Asia are unique, but they all have in common that their cultures are so different from what most Westerners are used to. The only way to understand the culture, is by experiencing it!