After an entire day of travel, I have finally arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam!
Our first day began with a warm welcome from the students from the University of Economics and Finance. The opening ceremony was full of singing, dancing, icebreakers and even a marriage proposal!
After our first Vietnamese class, we ate a delicious lunch of Bahn Mi and proceeded to embark on a tour of the city. Ho Chi Minh City appeared vast and bustling with both people and motor bikes. The bus tour took us all around the city from the French Quarter, to the Chinatown of Cholon, and then to the Ben Than market. Throughout our exploration, it was interesting to see the process of development occur. What stood out to me the most were all of tall modern looking sky scrapers under construction, neighboring smaller tin-roofed buildings. There was also a new subway system that was to be finished in 5 years, which may greatly change how people move around the city.
Globalization was also apparent, through all of the American restaurants we saw all over the city, including Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Popeyes. It was interesting to find out that my friend Lauren, a UEF student, worked at a KFC.
Later in the evening we had our welcome dinner at a restaurant in town that served traditional food. After eating many courses of delicious food, it was interesting to reflect on how our experience differed from our guidebook. Unlike the guidebook that had very strict rules for each part of the meal, our friends from UEF were very relaxed and helpful in explaining the different customs.
Our first day was very busy, but I’ve learned so much and I cannot wait to see what the next two weeks has in store!