Vietnam: nerve-wracking experience turned into an incredible journey

I recently went on a field trip to Hanoi, Vietnam, with the University of Westminster. This was my first time travelling abroad, and it was a fantastic experience. 

As soon as we stepped off the plane and out of the airport, I was struck by Hanoi’s intense heat and humidity. It was a far cry from the chilly weather I was used to living in London. But the heat wasn’t the only different thing – the sights, sounds, and smells of the city were all entirely new to me. As we made our way through the streets of Hanoi, I was struck by the chaotic yet organised chaos of the city. Motorbikes whizzed past us on every side, honking their horns and weaving in and out of traffic. Street vendors selling all manner of goods lined the sidewalks, and the smells of sizzling meat and spices filled the air. 

One of the trip’s highlights was our visit to Hanoi’s old quarter. This city area is known for its narrow, winding streets and traditional shophouses. Yet, as we wandered through the streets, I was struck by the sense of history and culture that seemed to permeate every corner.

We visited several local shops and markets, trying all sorts of new and interesting foods and picking up a few souvenirs along the way. In addition to our time in Hanoi, we also took a cruise through Halong Bay. This breathtaking region is known for its stunning natural beauty, towering limestone cliffs and crystal-clear waters. We spent the day exploring the bay, swimming in the warm waters and hiking to the top of the cliffs to take in the incredible views. 

Another one of the highlights of the trip was our visit to HANU University, where we were invited to be a part of the Faculty for International Studies’ 20th-anniversary celebration. While there, we were treated to a lecture by Thi, who made the experience incredible. It was fascinating to learn about the education system in Vietnam and to hear about the experiences of students and teachers at HANU. Overall, our visit to the university was a truly memorable experience that I will always cherish. 

The experience provided me with a sense of the unknown in part too, going on a trip with people I did not know and considering it was my first time going abroad, it was pretty nerve-wracking, but after spending only one day with them, I came out of my shell, and I have made friends who I hope I will cherish for a long time. 

Overall, my field trip to Hanoi was an incredible experience I will never forget. I am so grateful to the University of Westminster for providing me with this fantastic opportunity. I would especially like to thank Farhang for his hard work organising the trip. I can’t wait to see where my travels will take me next!

Amaan Haris

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