Whole New Country, Four New Phrases

First off, I had no idea how exhausting 30 hours of travel would feel. It’s something I definitely had to go through to understand; after leaving that last airport terminal I never wanted to see another plane again!

But today’s events pushed all thoughts of 14 hour flights out of my head. In one word, Ho Chi Minh City is gorgeous. Maybe it’s the Environmental Engineer in me, but I just love the large amount of trees. The buildings almost seem like trees themselves; they wind up from the ground, taller than I could imagine seeing back home, and each seems to fit perfectly in its space.

The welcome ceremony at UEF was incredible and overwhelming. From meeting everyone, dancing on stage, and the amazing gifts, I still find it difficult to process. Thanks to some patient new friends, I learned a few key phrases in language class that every traveler should know:

Xin chào! Hello!

Xin lỗi! Excuse me/I’m sorry!

Cảm ơn! Thank you!

Tạm biệt! Good bye!

I noticed a few examples of globalization throughout the day. One example I’m very grateful for is my PNC debit card working at the Vietnamese ATM down the street. An example of social globalization is how frequently I saw English on signs. Both of these cases illustrate the reach of companies and ideas across national boundaries. I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for more in the coming days.

Culture Smart did a good job preparing me for to expect in Ho Chi Minh. I remember reading about the dense and fast-growing population of Vietnam, with around 8 million living in HCM at the time of the book’s publication. I can better understand what that number means after spending a day here. Throughout the day I didn’t see a single street without people, vendors, and motorbikes. 

To close off my post, I’ll briefly describe what closed out our day: the welcome dinner on the Indochina Queen. The meal was fantastic and the view from the ship’s balcony was even better. The music was stunningly beautiful. As according to a Vietnamese student, each instrument was “from nature”, and it was clear to see how prevalent nature is in Vietnamese culture. I didn’t expect her statement be literal, but one musician played a solo on an actual leaf. Imagine having that sort of talent. 

It’s getting late – I better end this post here and get to sleep. I can’t wait for tomorrow.

Leave a Reply