This morning, instead of our usual lecture at UEF, we went straight to the Consulate General of the United States. The Consulate is broken into different sections each dealing with a specific topic. For example, they have a committee that focuses on the political and economic climate and a committee to keep track of public affairs, typically concerning human rights issues. The officers from the US stationed in Ho Chi Minh are often placed with the duty of running visa interviews and determining whether or not people should be granted visas to the US. The visa application process seems to be quite grueling, even when compared to the process to get a visa to enter Vietnam. Each applicant must have n in person interview, which is not the case for us to get into Vietnam. When someone is applying for a nonimmigrant visa, it is (surprisingly, in my opinion) harder to interview for because you must prove that you have no intentions of staying in the US longer than your allotted time. The Consulate provides a great bit of free information for the Vietnamese surrounding politics, human rights, and pretty much everything they’ve been working for. They also put on free events in the American Center such as an English language pronunciation workshop! I had no idea this was a feature the Consulate offered. I was surprised to hear both this and what good trade partners Vietnam and the US are.
In the afternoon, we had our usual morning activities: a lecture and a language lesson. We learned a lot more about the culture of Vietnam, including a few videos of musical instruments being used and getting to taste Vietnamese cakes and candies. This was a pretty inconsequential part of our busy days, but I was riveted by the textures of the candies (and the fact that they were made from green beans!). During our language class, we learned how to talk about food and a few more questions that might come in handy when we head to the market and attempt to bargain.
For dinner, we headed to a traditional Vietnamese food restaurant where we tried a few new things (such as shrimp heads in some cases!). I think this was my favorite meal so far. After dinner, we had planned to head to the dog cafe, but ended up postponing until next week due to our early start tomorrow. We did see a very fluffy Samoyed on the way to dinner, however, so I got my fix in for the day after all.