Day 8: VinaCapital

Today was structured in a slightly different order than usual. We got to sleep in until 9 am today, which was very refreshing. But, a few of us didn’t realize that the breakfast buffet actually closes at 9, so we were on our own for food. We decided to try to get sweet hot buns at a little stand by the grocery store, but sadly they were out, due to an earlier wave of Pitt students that came through. Instead, we went to the cafe above the grocery store and I bought a delicious Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk, which I have grown to love since we have been here. We barely made it back to the hotel lobby in time, and then drove to the VinaCapital headquarters to meet with representatives of this investment firm. We listened to a presentation on the different portfolios managed by VinaCapital, and they explained a bit about how the investment industry works in Vietnam. VinaCapital has many different investment portfolios that work in different ways. Some invest in specific industries, such as real-estate or technology, while others are more diverse and invest in a wide range of industries. They talked some about the VinaCapital foundation, which funds many projects to help the community and the region, such as helping treat childhood cardiac arrest.

Going into this company visit, I was expecting to feel very out of my depth and bored. However, I was pleasantly surprised by engaging it was and how much I understood. Although I don’t think I am going to change my career path to investment anytime soon, it is still very interesting to learn more about how investment works.

After the company visit, we went back to UEF and had lunch on the 15th floor and watch a thunderstorm pass across the Ho Chi Minh city skyline. Then, we had Vietnamese class, where we finally learned how to count! It was very exciting for me, and I won Vietnamese number bingo. We had our last culture class, and learned about modern Vietnamese culture, including Yin-Yang philosophy and family life. The teacher talked to us about many of the traditions and superstitions associated with this, such as the fact that even numbers are bad and odd numbers are good. It was slightly frustrating for me due to the sexist ideas associated with traditional beliefs: Yin signifies bad, backwardness, and women. However, I acknowledge that so many cultures have sexist traditions, including America, and in Vietnam these ideas are modernizing and becoming much more progressive. In fact, Vietnam is the only country in Asia that has legalized gay marriage, which is a pretty interesting, and honestly pretty surprising to me.

Today I feel like I learned so much about investment, Vietnamese language, and Vietnamese culture. Plus3 has been such an incredible experience and I am so impressed with the quantity of knowledge I have gained from this study abroad, and I don’t want it to end.

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