Visiting Vietnam in 2019 was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had. Landing in Hanoi at 6 am and being greeted by the university students to show us around was so exciting; I just knew that the next 10 days would be filled with exciting events. I just couldn’t wait to meet new people and learn!
My experience in navigating the streets of Hanoi was exhilarating, I even got to take a grab (Uber) bike. It was so fascinating going through the streets of Hanoi, feeling at home and seeing things that reminded me of my home country. I even treated myself to a nice relaxing massage after shopping at the Old Quarter, and I also had a few funny experiences where the locals thought I was Vietnamese and tried to speak to me in Vietnamese, to which I had to clarify that I’m Filipino.
One of the things I’ll always remember was when my friends and I quickly learned how to haggle with the vendors and shopkeepers, especially at the night market where we got the best bargains…luckily some of us were being chaperoned by the students at University of Hanoi. During the trip, we also had the chance to celebrate with the locals as Vietnam won the football in the Sea Games. It was a once in a lifetime adventure I was so glad to be part of, and the energy was so contagious I couldn’t help but show my support for Vietnam!
The street was roaring with cheers and people waving the national flag, it really was a sight to see. So many people approached us and gave us flags, smiling at us as if we had always been a part of the community.
We also had the opportunity to learn a lot about Vietnam’s development, and it was very interesting to hear different points of view. For example, we learned about the South China Sea dispute but from a Vietnamese perspective. The increasingly fast paced development of Vietnam as a country boosted by foreign direct investors and competition with China shows how strategic interests are shaping diplomatic relations in that region. This experience made me aware of the theoretical lens I was evaluating from and was important in building my own critical thinking.
Margaret Fernandez, Year 3, BA (Hons) International Relations and Development