This blog will tell you about my experience participating in the virtual field trip to Vietnam as a Human Nutrition student. Before joining the field trip, my usual university-related activities involved learning about human physiology, biochemistry, clinical practice, and public health. Therefore, signing myself up to learn about Vietnam in a novel study format among Politics, International Relations, Law, Medical Science, Sociology and Development students from both the UK and Vietnam seemed quite a push out of my comfort zone. Fortunately, despite initial uncertainty, I decided to feel the fear and do it anyway.
When I attended my first online session on the Vietnam field trip, I noticed the unusually significant involvement of students in the discussion. Initially, I did not even realise how the session was set up, as all I saw were students sharing their views on Vietnam’s economic transition. However, despite my absent expertise in the area, the relaxed environment made me feel welcome and motivated to participate in the conversation. A few weeks had passed in the blink of an eye, and discussing different aspects of Vietnam’s politics and culture with students and academics from both the UK and Vietnam had become my weekly habit. Who could have imagined!
Of course, I would not be able to properly engage in any discussion about Vietnam without preparation. Therefore, prior to each weekly session, all participants watched a 10-30-minute video about an aspect of Vietnam’s politics, culture, or society and wrote a 300-400 word blog about the material. It seems a lot of work, considering that I did it on top of all the regular university coursework, right? To be a hundred per cent honest, completing the tasks took me a little long in the first few weeks of the virtual field trip. However, I have no regrets I did it, as I could see my writing skills AND SPEED improve with every blog. The first blog I wrote before the field trip took me more than 5 hours to complete, which is a long time compared with the last blogs about the UN and UNESCO in Vietnam being ready in under an hour!
The virtual field trip to Vietnam proved to be more than just additional university duties. I feel bad for even making this comparison. In addition to the opportunity to constantly push my comfort zone by engaging in professional conversations, chairing meetings and “speed writing” blogs, the virtual field trip inspired me always to keep looking beyond boundaries. Thanks to the virtual field trip to Vietnam, I now know that life-changing places, people, cultures and worldviews can always be just around the corner or a video call away.
Grete Kurik, BSc (Hons) Human Nutrition