“One day I’ll touch your soil.
One day I’ll finally know your soul.
One day I’ll come to you.
To say hello… Vietnam.”
—Quynh Anh (Hello Vietnam)
It has been a few days since I left Vietnam.
I have set a side writing this final blog until now as adjusting to the time zone difference has been surprisingly more challenging than I anticipated. Not to mention, the long flight home really wore me out and I have been recharging ever since. But mainly, I wanted to take this time to reflect on the past two weeks as it flew by so quickly. Now feeling fully rested and ready, I hope to share a few thoughts about this trip and thank a few people along the way.
I first want to begin by thanking the University of Pittsburgh for giving me this once and a lifetime opportunity to study abroad in Vietnam, a country I have always dreamt of visiting. If if weren’t for your persuasive team in the Study Abroad Office who influenced me to take this leap, who knows when I would have went to Vietnam. Further, by awarding me with a scholarship to this program, I was able to approach this trip with a different mindset than had I gotten no aid. Rather than stressing constantly about the financial burden that this trip would have put on my parents, I was able to just relax and enjoy everything that life threw at me while in Vietnam. Instead of being uptight and purely focused on my work, I allowed myself to have fun for a change and go out with my friends. And that would have not been possible without the generosity of the university.
Looking forward, I plan on continuing to pursue a major in Finance at Pitt Business, but also add a certificate in International Business after getting a taste of what foreign business is like through the company site visits in Vietnam. And since I had such a wonderful experience studying abroad in Vietnam, I hope to take a full semester off next studying abroad in one of the many countries offered by Pitt Business. With such a huge selection to choose from, I have no doubt that I will be partnering with the Study Abroad Office again to plan my next trip. Maybe second semester? We also can’t forget about my Vietnamese language classes I took at Pitt. I am definitely going to continue studying the language into my second year to further improve my proficiency in the language after interacting with the locals in Vietnam. That was definitely an experience that solidified my passion for the language.
I next want to thank the students at the University of Economics and Finance (UEF), our partnership school while in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The UEF students were always an energetic bunch of individuals who always made our days brighter and positive. Whenever we were tired or the rain brought our moods down, these students would always bring a smile to our faces and make us feel better just by conversing about our days and inquiring about our interests and life back home. As for all the nights they would take us out to dinner then watch over us if we went out, it always amazed me to see their dedication to keep us safe and resilience to bring us back to the hotel safe and sound. Most of the UEF students even had classes the next morning, yet they stuck it out and stayed with us through the whole night until every single person made it back. I have expressed my gratitude to them for being such a great group of companions over this trip by making us feel welcomed in Vietnam, but words will never be enough. They exceeded everyone’s expectations and became our close friends by the end of the trip. It devastated us at the airport to see them wake up at 3 am just to send us off, as they cried and gestured toward us for one last hug. I honestly had no idea that I would grow such a strong bond with the Vietnamese students in Vietnam, but I am glad I did. Listening to their stories and their lives in Vietnam was truly enlightening and put everything into perspective. I really hope that one day we will meet again. Perhaps this time, I will show them around my home.
And a final thank you to the University of Pittsburgh students that have made this trip so special to me. These past two weeks have been such a wild ride with them as I got to do so many awesome activities and see such a unique diversity of sites. I initially was worried about fitting in during this trip due to the nature of my personality, but they quickly dismissed this thought on the first day we met. We came in mostly as strangers, but out as close friends by the end. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to travel around Vietnam with. Even though we communicate with each other each day, I still miss them all already.
As my first blog stated, one of my main goals and incentives for going to Vietnam was to learn more about my Vietnamese culture and origin that I couldn’t find back in the United States. From the collection of events that took place during the entirety of this trip, each and every one contributed in some way to this “quest” of mine. I can gladly say that by the end of these two weeks, I found what I was looking for. In addition, I was able to witness firsthand the development that is currently taking place in Vietnam as the country transforms to an economic powerhouse. I took many photos throughout the trip and shared them with my parents, and both were baffled to see how much has changed since they left Vietnam. Now, they are convinced they must come back and pay a visit to their old stomping grounds.
Again, all of this would not have been possible if I had not gone on the Plus 3 Vietnam Study Abroad trip. To everyone that helped make this happen, thank you!
And with that, it is finally time to bid farewell to Vietnam. One day, we will meet again.
Until next time friends
–Tuan Kiet (my Vietnamese name)