Today our group had an exciting first day in Vietnam! In the morning, we were welcomed at the University of Economics and Finance by all of the students during an amazing opening ceremony. After, we went to lunch and ate the traditional Vietnamese “pho”. Straight from lunch we drove around Ho Chi Minh city during a bus city tour. Finally, to wrap up the day, we ate dinner on a cruise ship and were able to see some amazing views of the city.
While on the city tour of Ho Chi Minh, one of the most interesting things that I noticed was the mass amount of scooters on the streets and the absence of a lot of cars. When I asked a Vietnamese student later during the day about that, he explained that the city streets are too small for multiple cars to fit down, so most Vietnamese choose to ride scooters to save space. Furthermore, while riding through the city I noticed many signs of the Vietnamese globalization. To start, a new subway system was being built in the middle of the city. This is a big development because once finished, there will be easier transportation into the city from suburbs, allowing the city and ultimately the businesses of Ho Chi Minh to grow. In addition, while touring the city, I noticed that we passed a mall with many stores that I recognized, such as Dior, H&M, and Louis Vuitton. This is a clear sign of globalization, as these are stores that come from all over the world and are now extending their business into Vietnam.
While at the Welcome Dinner on the boat, one of the most notable things about the dinner was the fact that a majority of the meals served were fish based, due to Vietnam’s location on the water. Furthermore, an interesting thing about the dinner was that the waiters actually came around and served us even though the food was family-style. This surprised me because in America, when dishes are served family-style, we are just given a plate and we serve ourselves, yet in Vietnam they split up the dishes for the guests. When going into the dinner, I made sure to be cautious of all of the little things that Culture Smart made sure to point out that may offend the Vietnamese. For example, Culture Smart warns to hold chopsticks at the top, as if you hold them half-way down it is a bad omen. When actually at the dinner, though, the Vietnamese did not seem phased when someone were to accidentally do what Culture Smart warned not to do. So although Culture Smart was incredibly useful in telling me what to expect, there were some little things that seemed to be over-emphasized in the book than in reality.