Vietnam is not just a country per say; it’s a whole experience.

As a student of international relations and development, one becomes acutely aware of how little one really knows. No one truly understands everything, but the more you read and the more you explore, you realise that there is so much more to learn about the world and the different people who live in it. I got this opportunity to visit, explore, and learn about a country full of culture and wonder. From the amazing street food full of colourful cuisines to the small markets. Vietnam is not just a country per say, it’s a whole experience. Every street is bustling and each street has a story to tell. This was my first time travelling to a country in Asia, even though I’ve travelled before, I was not prepared to fall in love with Vietnam.

Before arriving in Vietnam, I was prepared for the difference of culture and the way of life. I also knew that I’d be stepping out of my comfort zone. Which was not a bad thing since it gave me a whole new learning experience. What I wasn’t prepared for however, was the long eleven-hour flight, which was full of chatter among friends, watching movies and sleeping. When arriving in Vietnam, it was already different, the people were already so welcoming, holding warm smiles on their faces. The first day, we all just chilled and explored the wonderful city, tried new food spots, and were just hanging out with each other and getting to know each other better. It was one of the first times I’ve felt so welcomed, especially from someone who was a complete stranger, they were so kind, sweet and inviting. It made me feel at ease. As they were so interested in getting to know us, as was I. We stayed at one of the University dorms, which despite the many cockroaches, was actually an experience as it gave me the perspective of a Vietnamese student rather than a tourist.

The basis of the trip was to learn in an international environment, in this case Vietnam. I learnt so much, especially since it was not just sitting in a classroom and learning, it was a whole hands-on experience from outside the classroom. The learning experience I got from outside the classroom cannot be compared to anything as not only was I learning through my senses, but I was also learning through communicating with random people on the streets and shops. For example, we went to a hairdresser where we had to communicate how we wanted to style our hair, and since there was a language barrier, we continuously communicated through hand gestures and google translate. We even got to visit and explore historical landmarks where it gave me an insight into the Vietnamese history and culture. I was able to embrace the culture to the maximum as the last week we were there Vietnam won the Asian Cup. This brought the community together, we danced and laughed with the Vietnamese locals and embraced their culture and their country with them. This made the experience in Vietnam so unique.

My trip to Vietnam was so amazing I can go on for days and days about the experience I had there and how much fun I had. I can’t even fit in my full experience in this post. Looking back at it I learned and gained so much from my visit to Hanoi. Visiting Hanoi really and truly made me reflect and to realise not to take anything for granted since Vietnam is completely different from London. It reminded me of how it is back in my own home country in Egypt, since it gave me the feel that I was back there. Vietnam made me realise how much more of the world I want to explore and how much more I have yet to learn about the world. The entirety of the trip opened my eyes to a different perspective and to a whole new world, it made me put my mind and heart together to get the most out of the trip. This trip made me realise that if you have the opportunity to travel, do it, since you only have one life to!

Tasneem Fadel, Year 3, BA (Hons) International Relations and Development


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