“They’re ruby slippers, Adrian. Put these on and say ‘there’s no place like home’, ‘there’s no place like home’ and you can be there.” – Adrian Cronauer “Good Morning Vietnam”
The short term study abroad trip to Vietnam was an experience of a lifetime, but it is good to finally be home. Vietnam was the first time I had ever been across seas to another country and the farthest I have been away from my family. I have made great friendships and was able to build relationships with my professors that I could never get from the classroom.
Vietnam was a culture shock! Saying the weather was hard to get use to is an understatement. There were times when it was 110 degrees outside with 80 percent humidity. I now appreciate air conditioning more than ever and I will never complain about the heat again. At one point on the trip our air conditioner on the bus broke, but Tony (our tour guide) pulled through and got us a new air conditioned bus. It is the little things that make a difference. Getting use to the weather was hard, but learning how to interact with the local people and your surroundings was a challenge too. Every time I walked down the street I had women offering me stuff to buy, they are very persistent. They don’t really know the word “no” or they just choose not to listen to you. Being in the big city of Ha Noi was crazy. We were just thrown into this new way of life and it was very overwhelming. The night life in Hanoi was great. One night a group of us went and joined in a Zumba group by the lake.
Ha Long Bay was my favorite part of the trip. The scenery was incredible. There were many islands; 1969 to be exact, all unique. Some of these islands even have little brown monkeys inhabiting them. After Ha Long Bay we took a night train to Hue. I have never been on a train, let alone a night train. Me and another student even made friends with some Vietnamese business men who made the train ride more fun. When we arrived in Hue, we got our first little taste of Vietnam’s thunder storms. It rained hard but I think many of us were happy because the rain made it cooler outside. We were able to visit the Imperial City and the tomb of Khai Dinh. From Hue we went to Hoi An; which is a calm little tourist town not far from Da Nang.
Hoi An was my favorite town, mainly because it was quiet. There were less people trying to come up and sell you things and you could walk down the street and not worry about getting hit by a motor bike. When we were there we road bikes to a beautiful beach. The water was amazing and clear and you could walk out fifty yards and still have water up to your waist. The only thing you had to watch out for were the occasional jelly fish. We also hiked a huge mountain called Marble Mountain. It was a struggle to reach the top (so many stairs!!), but the view was worth it. In Hoi An we also learned how to cook some great Vietnamese food; spring rolls (which is harder to make then it seems) and fish.
Staying in Hoi An was the best place to end our trip in Vietnam. When we left Vietnam we had a 12 hour layover in South Korea. South Korea was cooler in temperature; no complaints there, and we were able to visit a couple religious sites. We were all very tired from the plane ride and most of us were running on only a couple ours of sleep. I wish we had more time in South Korea,but I am still thankful to say I have been there. I am so thankful to have had this experience. This was the best way to start out summer and I would recommend this trip to anyone. Vietnam is an amazing country with rich culture and history and my life had been enriched as a result of the opportunity to have seen and experienced it.