After spending countless hours in the airport and on three different planes, we finally arrived in Vietnam and got settled in to our hotel last night. We started our day today by arriving at UEF (University of Economics and Finance) in Ho Chi Minh City, and were greeted by the friendliest group of Vietnamese students. Every one of them was eager to get to know us and practice speaking their English with all of us. We started developing friendships with everyone participated in a few icebreaker games and performing a dance that we had been practicing prior to arriving. After this, we stopped to get lunch and ate a traditional Vietnamese favorite called pho. Next, we went on a tour of the city, which allowed us to see what life is like in a developing country such as Vietnam. The most striking thing about the tour was how crowded the streets were and the amount of motor bikes zooming down the streets. However, as I looked on to the buildings and stores that carpeted the streets, I was shocked to have recognized so many of them. This is a clear sign of globalization and shows how Vietnam’s decision to open their borders to more of the world impacts their largest cities. I saw stores such as Starbucks, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and even a Popeyes as we drove around the city. These international chains display perfectly the effects of globalization first hand and allowed me to realize that Vietnam is a lot more developed than I would ever have expected. Lastly, we finished our day by getting dinner on a boat (similar to the Gateway Clipper in Pittsburgh). We were served our meal in different courses, each bringing to the table a unique set of flavors, one of which being chicken. According to one of our pre-departure books (Vietnam culture smart), it mentions that in Vietnam, items of the chicken such as organs and feet are commonly eaten, however our chicken was served without either of these, making it look like something that is common in the United States. Also, during the dinner we were entertained by a trio of musicians who played traditional style music and were extremely talented. We finished up dinner and enjoyed the view of the city pass by with the warm air breezing in our faces. Vietnam is already exceeding my expectations and I cannot wait to see what the rest of our journey has in store for us.
P.S. The food is fantastic