From the Classroom, to the City, to Vietnam!

Hello everyone! My name is Allyson Koda, and I am a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh looking to pursue a degree in marketing with minors in computer science and creative writing, and a certificate in data analytics. On campus, I am involved with The American Marketing Association and competed on their case competition team. Next semester, I look forward to continuing with the case competition team, as well as joining Women In Business.

When I tell people that I am from Hershey, PA, I typically get some combination of these three questions: “Does the air smell like chocolate?”, “Does your diet mostly consist of candy?”, and “Do you love roller coasters?” The answers to those questions are yes, yes, and obviously. While Hershey will always have a special place in my heart, I always knew that I was going to end up in a city. I am thrilled that I have started my journey here in Pittsburgh! When I’m not eating copious amounts of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, I am either backpacking, writing a short story, or regaling my friends with theories about HBO’s Game of Thrones.

I have been very fortunate to have been given several opportunities to travel abroad. The experiences one has while traveling stay with them long after they get off the plane. I still vividly remember the vastness of the Fijord in Norway, the feeling of awe as I walked through the opulent halls of Versailles, and the delighted laughter of children playing soccer on a misty day in Ecuador. Every time I travel I meet new and exciting people, witness the beauty of another place that I do not call my home, and most importantly I am given insight into a culture that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. So why Vietnam?

To me the choice was pretty simple, and it boiled down to two key reasons. The first was that, from a history standpoint, Vietnam is incredibly fascinating because of the vast influences from many different cultures. You can see the French influence in some of the architecture of Ho Chi Minh City alongside many different Buddhist temples. These were two distinctly different influences, and yet the country still retains a personality and style that is entirely unique to Vietnam. The second reason is that I really wanted to transport myself to a very different place during this two-week travel abroad experience. So while I am aware that Vietnam seems like one of the more exotic options, I think that it’s the perfect Plus3 trip because of its exciting history and its different culture. To me, the whole point of traveling is to experience a place and culture that may be entirely different than your own.

I think that my trip to Vietnam is going to give me insight into a new culture and place, but it is also going to provide me with a first-hand look at how globalization impacts the world. My team is assigned to the Glass Egg Digital Media company, which is a video game graphic design company that outsources their work to companies across the world. I am thrilled to be assigned to Glass Egg because it combines both marketing and computer science. I am very excited to learn about the industry and how it works in another country. Culturally, I’m going to want to absorb as much as I can, but I am very excited to try new foods and visit the Mekong River Delta. Every time I travel I feel as though I am left with a greater appreciation for the world around me and an insatiable desire to learn more.

I can’t believe that in less than two weeks, I am going to be on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City! Right now it is finals week, and the only thing that is getting me through it is my excitement for this trip. Wish me luck, and I will see you all in Vietnam!

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