Plus 3 Vietnam was one of the most fun and rewarding experiences of my life. I got to see the operations of a variety of different businesses and see how they each played a role in the development of Vietnam. I also got to meet and interact with a variety of Vietnamese people and places, thereby learning about a culture completely different than my own. I also developed my transferable skills and will discuss the development of my Flexibility and Adaptability, Negotiating skills, and Perceiving Nonverbal Messages and Cues.
My Flexibility and Adaptability was developed during the trip because I had to learn to be flexible and adapt to whatever the group was doing. In college you can set your own schedule and work on your own time, but in Vietnam I had to do whatever the group was doing. One of the most difficult things was dressing business casual everyday. I was not prepared for this because the impression I received during predeparture meetings and in discussion with students who had gone last year was that I would be fine as long as I did not look like a goof. I only brought one pair of khaki pants and three dress shirts. I had to find a way to make these last the entire trip. I bought an extra dress shirt while in Vietnam, so that none of the shirts got too disgusting. Unfortunately I could not confidently find a pair of pants that would fit me, so I was stuck wearing the same pants everyday. Learning to to deal with dirty clothes and a reality drastically different than my expectations made me more flexible and adaptable.
Since many of the Vietnamese do not speak english, or if they do they do not speak it well perceiving non-verbal messages and cues was essential to communicating with the Vietnamese. An example of this is when we were going out one night and the Vietnamese students were not with us. We had to use the grab app, which is like uber but you can pay in cash at the end. The driver got lost on the way to our destination. He had to communicate to us that he was lost. We had to recognize that he was lost, find out how to get to where we were going, and communicate that to him. All without using language, since our driver did not speak any. By pointing and using our phones to show him maps we were eventually able to reach our destination, but it was definitely a challenge that I had never had to deal with yet, and improved my ability to perceive non-verbal messages and cues.
My negotiating skills were pretty much nonexistent before this trip. I had very limited experience in negotiating because I rarely have had to do it before. Fantasy football trade negotiations were probably the only experience I had before this trip. In Vietnam we got to go to the market to try our hand at negotiating and I was surprisingly successful. It was intimidating at first, especially because most of the business students are aspiring sharks, and I left most of my big bills on the bus-I only brought about 120,000 dong with me. With that 120,000 dong I was able to acquire a shot glass and a t-shirt for much lower prices than what was offered initially. My shot glass negotiation happened basically by accident. One of the vendors stepped in my way and kept showing me things from her stall, and I kept trying to walk away because I was not very interested in anything she was peddling. But she kept pulling me back and offering me different items for a better price. So it was almost by accident that I discovered how to negotiate in this market-by appearing as disinterested as possible and walking away almost every time that they do not like your price. When the vendor showed me the shot glass I was able to negotiate down to 50,000 dong, which was cheaper than what the same shot glass was selling for in stores, and way cheaper than the asking price. Once I had bargained for the shot glass I had a good strategy and used it to get the t-shirt. Since the t-shirt was at multiple vendors I was able to try negotiating at different stalls until I got the price I wanted. Although the market was probably very different than business negotiations, it was still a valuable experience especially because I did not expect to do well at all and because I have had very little negotiation experience until this point.