Today began with a trip to the US consulate. The building looked nothing like I was expecting. I don’t know why but for some reason I thought it would be a large building with the basic fancy themed furniture you see in every government movie. Instead, it was located on a floor of a normal office building, and the inside was fairly modern and very open. From the room that we were sitting in, there was an amazing view of the city. Every building we’ve been in so far has come with an amazing view. Hopefully, my New York dream job will also come with a view that can attempt (emphasis on ATTEMPT) to be as good as the views I’ve seen here.
We spoke with an employee from the economics department and another who covers public media. The economics department looks specifically at the development of the country as well as the environment because they appear to go hand in hand. The public media department monitors what is printed in newspapers about the United States’s affairs. Apart from the specific duties of the two employees that we talked to the consulate also puts on movie screenings, information sessions, and other various talks. One of their tasks includes giving out both non-immigrant and immigrant visas. The time it takes to get a Visa can vary based on the situation. However, all applicants must go through an application process and if they are accepted then an in-person interview is done. What stood out to me most about the economic relationship between the U.S and Vietnam is that the consulate doesn’t directly fix the economic problems as much as identify the problems and bring the right people together who can fix them. Coming into this visit, I thought that the consulate was actively helping in projects to stimulate the Vietnamese economy. For example, today they explained to us that they took data from the Mekong Delta in order to assess the environmental problems that they are currently experiencing. They then identify others who are also doing research, many times this is multiple groups, however, the groups don’t share their information with one another. To combat this problem the consulate will invite each team of researches to come together where the consulate can facilitate the conversation and ideas can be shared. I took this as a more indirect way of intervening with the economy and environment.
Day one I was faced with a battle that I could not win: Giant, beady-eyed shrimp vs. mouth. Tonight I was given another chance to have a go at some headed shrimp. However this time the shrimp were much smaller ~thank goodness~. The Vietnamese students took us out to another traditional restaurant and once again our food was ordered for us, which is always super nerve-racking. But when these delicious looking pancakes were brought out (along with other various foods), I was excited to give them a try. I picked one up and confidently brought it to my open mouth, then stoped as I spotted an unpeeled shrimp. Thinking out loud I complained to my Vietnamese friend, Bunny, about how they never peel the shrimp here, and that’s when she told me it’s on purpose, you’re supposed to eat the whole thing, shell, legs, head and all because that’s where the flavor is. I stared at her with open eyes and stammered that there was no way that was going to happening. And I really wasn’t going to until I remembered my previous defeat. No way was I losing shrimp battle two. And I swear I really was going to follow through until Bunny identified the mysterious black substance I was still staring at through the shell was shrimp BRAIN. So not wanting to be a complete loser (but also not wanting to see what shrimp brain would do to my stomach), I cut the head off and ate the rest. Body, shell, legs and all. Honestly, I didn’t taste a difference even though the legs did add a nice leg-like texture. But anyway, the head of the shrimp won me out once again, so I’m going to say this battle is .5 to 1.5 but no worries we’ve still got a whole week to catch up so stay tuned. (Oh an I also ate the strange jelly substance pictured below too, so I’m definitely giving myself a nice big pat on the back for that).
Now time for some disappointing news, motor bikes were going wayyy to fast today for my picture taking thumb to keep up (ik I’m sad too). So my apologies but please enjoy these blurry pics below and let’s make a game out of it and see if you can figure out what the poor overworked bikes are carrying.