Vietnam: An Unforgettable Experience

The field trip to Vietnam was one of the craziest experiences of my life so far, in the best way possible. To be honest, even after learning a thing or two about Vietnam through educational videos and weekly video calls, speaking with locals and seeing how things work in real life took my understanding of the country to the next level.

For example, I knew that Vietnam is a communist country, but seeing the posters, mosaics and the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum was something different. It felt like going inside the photos my parents took during Soviet Union times. Just to be clear, I am not saying that Vietnam is anything similar to the Soviet Union. However, I could not help thinking of the old photos when seeing things like these. Also, it was eye-opening to see the locals’ different perspectives and feelings that visiting the mausoleum provoked – some felt truly proud, some were indifferent, and some seemed a tiny bit awkward about it. These reactions are something one cannot learn from a book or a video.

Another truly memorable thing from the field trip was the overall vibe in Vietnam. The “vibe” was composed of everything from the busiest traffic I had ever seen to amazingly helpful people, whistling security guards and a combination of old Vietnamese, modern and European-style architecture. In other words, I felt that so many polarities existed at the same time. For example, a red light rarely stopped the cars or scooters, but anyone taking a photo of something forbidden or stepping on some wrong spot experienced a strict-sounding restrictive whistle. Also, the people were some of the friendliest, warmest and most open I had ever met, whilst being unusually reserved at the same time. Additionally, I got to eat the best fruit I had ever had together with chicken legs, heads and brains! All in all, it was dumbfounding to experience this all in such a short time, all at once.

Finally, I can never forget the absolutely marvellous views I saw on the cruise ship at Ha Long Bay, nor the sunny sky that turned into pouring rain while we were kayaking. Also, I will always remember visiting the Temple of Literature, where Confucius did much of his work, the horrors of Hoa Lo Prison, the beauty of Duong Lam village and our visit to the United Nations Centre.

Overall, the field trip to Vietnam allowed me to take the knowledge I had learned before and upgrade it with lived experience. Now I have a personal experience with Vietnam, its people and history, as a part of the latter lives on in the local places and culture. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to visit Vietnam – a part of the world from which we all have so much to learn.

Grete Kurik, Year 3, BSc (Hons) Human Nutrition

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