Day 1: Touring, Cruising and Eating

As our tour guide led us through the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, I noticed many interesting things. Tall buildings lined the streets, alongside beautiful French-colonial architecture, sights that we got to observe as thousands of motorcycles passed us by. I saw a mix of local stores, large luxury brands, and seemingly all the food one could possibly imagine. There were numerous signs of development such as towering cranes preparing the subway system that is currently in progress as well as the advertisements for large global companies, such as Samsung and Kia. The city certainly has exceeded my expectations in terms of development, and I hope to return in the future to observe the progress that is yet to come.

At the welcome dinner, the food was what I was expecting of Vietnamese cuisine, however, the cruise ship aspect of the dinner was unexpected, and made the dining experience quite memorable. In terms of the culture I was able to observe today, I really appreciated how welcoming the students and others were today, as I was not expecting a standing ovation from complete strangers. It was the type of enthusiasm that I appreciate as it is beyond what I likely am even capable of. I was not surprised much by the culture, as the Culture Smart was mostly accurate, except in regard to smiling; Culture Smart described smiling in Vietnam being used primarily to express a sign of embarrassment, however, the pleasant smiles of the students clearly were the product of joy.

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