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I love living here !

February 25, 2020 | Lusa, Honours Bachelor of Social Sciences in International Development and Globalizationand Minor in Women's Studies, Uniterra, Vietnam, The Saigon Tourist Hospitality College (STHC), Communications and Marketing Officer

I know many students write this, but it really is difficult to put into words how amazing my experience here has been. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam is like nowhere I’ve ever been in my life, there are many differences from Ottawa and I can confidently say that I haven’t found one that I dislike. Coming to a new place, especially one on the other side of the world with a completely different way of life, culture, and language can be overwhelming at times. But I’ve found this place to be incredible. The people are some of the most welcoming I’ve ever met and there’s always something to do. The city is incredibly lively, with 9 million people, there’s always someone new to meet or talk to.

As someone who loves cities, I love living here. It’s a concrete jungle with various parks which have trees easily as tall as skyscrapers. Whenever I feel tired of being surrounded by buildings, I take a trip, 7 minutes on the back of a motorbike, to any of these parks and instantly feel at peace. When I wanted more of a break, I took a bus 5 hours to Mũi Né a beautiful town on the beach with sand dunes that I would definitely recommend to anyone coming to Vietnam!

I’ve made many friends whom I spend time with and feel very close to, they really helped me to settle in and learn how this culture and city works. They’ve also helped me to really immerse myself in the way of life here, so while culture shock is definitely a real thing, I’ve been able to quickly adjust within my first few weeks and feel very settled.

I arrived close to the beginning of Tết or Vietnamese Lunar New Year, which gave me the opportunity to experience the biggest holiday in Vietnam. Characterized by gift giving, wishes of happiness, beautiful decorations, and lots of delicious food. I feel so grateful to have been given the chance to celebrate with the people here as it was an amazing experience. Visiting the huge and beautiful Tết flower gardens with Zoe and Laurine who are also completing their international internships in Vietnam, was easily one of my favourite adventures. As well, as being invited to dinner with my boss’s family.

Working with Uniterra and the Saigon Tourist Hospitality College as a communications officer makes this experience even more engaging and eye opening. I chose to apply for this position because I really wanted to practice and grow my professional communication skills in an international environment where I would be challenged. And, it definitely has been a challenge, working in a cross-cultural environment where the majority of my colleagues speak a different language can be daunting at times. But I came with determination to push the boundaries of my comfort zone and I’m so glad I did. Everyday I’m learning, growing, and truly becoming a stronger person, both physically from carrying 12 litres at a time of water from the store to my apartment and emotionally.

The skills I’ve learned here and the growth I’ve had will stay with me forever and I can’t wait to return to Ho Chi Minh City as soon as I can.