Vietnam: an experience of a lifetime

I’m a psychology student; I had the opportunity to choose this module as my optional module. At first, I was scared and unsure of choosing it, as the description mentioned that it involved going abroad to another country. However, this module challenged me as I had to experience a different environment, come out of my comfort zone, and overcome barriers. 

The first day I went in, I looked around the classroom and was surprised by the diversity of courses among my classmates. I found it very interesting and challenging as I was a psychology student with no experience taking any lectures in criminology, politics, international relations or geography at university. However, after a few weeks, I realised that there were more things in common between them. 

We studied Vietnam’s history, culture, geography, politics, and criminology, including psychology (mental health and its implications in Vietnam). This gave us a better understanding of Vietnam and how quickly the country recovered after its war of independence, first against France during World War II and later against the US, ending in 1973.  

We experienced the culture, society, food, education, politics, and economics on the field trip. Our visit to Vietnam was a lifetime opportunity to develop our capabilities in an international environment. This experience gave me a better understanding of Vietnam and the culture in the Asian continent. 

My main goal was to investigate the point of view of the Vietnamese on the importance of mental health. I did this by asking students and academics in the university what they thought mental health was. I found that this topic is a massive stigma in Vietnam, and having a mental health disorder is seen as something negative to be ashamed of and is considered taboo in society. I respect the country’s religion and beliefs, and I understand the country has been through a lot of violence. However, the level of understanding of the mental health problem and the solutions seemed non-existent. 

Vietnam is still under the communist rule but is growing fast by employing a capitalist method. Although it is contradictory, the people in Vietnam seem to be comfortable with it. 

I’m so happy and grateful for this experience which has helped me gain experience for my future career plans. It has also helped me see a different side of political psychology and how it is used by by the political leaders and parties to influence the population’s mindset. I enjoyed the module; it taught me so much in many ways, especially from academic and personal perspectives. I thank my lecturer, Farhang Morady, for creating this module and allowing students to live this once in a lifetime experience.  

Camila Murillo

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