Vietnam Field Trip: I Have Finally Visited!

I was excited to visit Vietnam ever since the ‘Learning in an International Environment’ module started, in which we were learning about Vietnamese history, culture and development. We met students and professors during the Virtual field trip, but when we arrived in person, most of us could not believe what we saw; for me, it felt unreal. What we study in books or see in movies cannot be compared to being surrounded by wonderful people, heavy traffic, historical buildings and diverse cultures. I knew this was going to be an amazing field trip, but it eclipsed any other event in my life.

It is important to know a country’s cultural, economic and political background, but it is not enough to fully embrace what it means to be a part of that country. The combination of what we learn in our university studies and travelling across Vietnam, and attending lectures there has helped me to understand how Vietnam has evolved and, more importantly, why it developed the way it did. This understanding cannot be taught without experiencing it in real life.

The very first thing that was unexpected was the traffic! I knew there were a lot of scooters, but the way everyone drives it is phenomenal. It is like there is a whole ecosystem in place, and everyone knows where to turn or where to stop. Every driver is aware of their surroundings and adapts to every little variable, may it be a vehicle, a person or an animal. On the first day, we asked Professor Thi how to cross the road, and he replied that most of us didn’t believe: “Just start walking, and they will go around you; you will get used to it”. I was stunned: cars and scooters were coming from everywhere; how am I supposed to just walk out on the busiest street I have ever seen?! Eventually, we got used to the traffic and became part of this ‘ecosystem’.

Meeting the Vietnamese students was amazing; we learned so much from each other – we talked about history, politics and different cultures, which widened my understanding of Vietnam. The students also helped us embrace life in Hanoi, which wouldn’t be easy if we had visited alone.

Being in Vietnam feels like a dream because everything that happened there didn’t feel real. Even after a week in Hanoi, I still didn’t believe that it is happening. Every single day we learned and saw something new. It was exhilarating. Since I came home, I think of Vietnam every day and wish the trip had never ended.

Gyula Brncsics, Year 3, BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations

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