Life in Vietnam

July 19, 2019 | Laura, International Studies and Modern Languages, Uniterra, Vietnam, Vietnam Association of Community Colleges (VACC)- Program Officer

I have been in Vietnam for five weeks now, four spent in Hanoi and one in Pleiku and I think they may be the longest and shortest five weeks of my life. Living here has been a big exercise in adapting. Every new experience comes with a set of challenges and the need to be flexible. But, despite all the challenges these have been the most amazing weeks of my life.

Hanoi is a beautiful city with so much to do. In my first week I had trouble adjusting to the fast pace of the city, but I quickly got used to it and now, living in a more remote area, I really miss feeling at the center of everything. My favourite place in Hanoi is the Old Quarter, where we spent our first few days in a hotel. Every weekend they close off the streets around Hoan Kiem lake and have events and activities. I have loved walking around the lake, grabbing coffee, and watching the traffic.

Living in Vietnam has not come without challenges of course. The hardest thing I’ve had to overcome has been the language barrier. At my organization there is only one person that speaks English fluently, so miscommunication is a common occurrence. I am also getting used to casually being pushed out of my comfort zone with every new experience pushing me a little further. While this causes me a little stress and is not something I always enjoy, I do appreciate it because it has given me amazing experiences that I might not have tried otherwise.

I am also really proud of the work I’ve completed at the VACC. The past few weeks I have been working with my counterpart on a grant proposal for a conference dedicated to helping women and girls to become entrepreneurs. The workshop focuses on all aspects of business administration and submitting the proposal has been one of my proudest moments of my internship yet. I also help with the English club and have loved working with all of the students to improve their language skills.

I am also coming to the end of two weeks in Gia Lai province which has been a bit of a challenge but also an amazing experience. While here I taught English lessons to the teachers of the college. It was amazing to have such an attentive group of people that just wanted to learn. I felt very proud of the students in the last class because of how far they’d come.

In my first weeks coming to Vietnam I would count down how long I had left to be here whenever I was struggling to adjust, now I never want it to end. I have had such an amazing summer so far and I am excited to see what the next six weeks has to offer.

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