Vietnam is a country bursting with love, culture, colours, and authenticity. However, this was unknown to me prior to visiting the country. Before exploring parts of Vietnam, specifically in Hanoi, my perception of Vietnam was completely varied and blurred. I viewed Vietnam as an outdated and backwards country. Solely reading up on its history and political outlook, especially in regard to the Vietnamese war, I thought that it would be impossible for the country (as a developing nation) to reconstruct successfully from the aftermath of their history. I was wrong. As soon as I landed in Vietnam, looking at its airport, the people, the multilingual signs directing international passengers and the systems in place, it was clear to me that Vietnam was far from the perception I had in mind. I firmly believed that Vietnam was predominantly made up of rural, village like areas, with very little development and thus only entailing a small percentage of urbanisation. However, this soon changed as I looked deeper into the country, realising that I am literally witnessing development in action. I was shocked at how globalisation has impacted Vietnam, making parts of it chiefly similar to states in Europe and the UK. One of the most pleasing parts of the country was exploring its historical landmarks and culture. The culture echoes in the vibrant streets of Vietnam via the delicious food stalls, the small jewellery stores, and the souvenir shops. When wondering around Hanoi, it was interesting to witness the clear divide between the rural and urban areas which I thought was an accurate reflection of the country as a whole. Speaking to the incredibly knowledgeable Vietnamese students from Hanoi’s University, it was apparent that Vietnam was definitely on the path of progressing into an excellent country.
There were two moments (out of the many) during the Vietnamese field trip in 2019, which I hold very close to my heart. The first moment was the beautiful, warm welcome we received at the airport from the Vietnamese students who were eagerly waiting for us to arrive so that they could be on this journey with us. To me, this made me feel very extremely involved and appreciated, which is very rare to experience from individuals who are ultimately strangers to you at first. I believe that very moment set the tone for the rest of the trip for me, as I knew myself and my peers were going to be accompanied by such amazing individuals for the rest of the trip. The second moment which was very memorable to me, has got to be the bus journey on the way to visit one of the villages in Hanoi. The journey was full of music, karaoke singing, snacks and a whole lot of laughter and jolly vibes. As unusual as it may seem, I mark that bus ride as the moment that we truly grasped the Vietnamese culture and vice versa. From teaching each other our cultural dance moves, to introducing one another to the varying tastes in music we had from our personal backgrounds, everything about that very day was super informative and explorative.
Ultimately, my trip to Vietnam not only aided my academic development, but it also allowed me to build on a personal level, encouraging me to take part in similar opportunities in the future and continue discovering the wonderful cultures and history of the world.
Saman Haque, Year 3, BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations.