Going to Vietnam for 2 weeks was something that made me extremely nervous going in. Before this trip started I had never been on a plane, left the country, or really gotten to know anyone else that was going on the trip with me. I don’t know if it was the culture or the activities but I can honestly say that was one of the best 2 week spans of my lifetime. The people both from Pitt and Vietnam that I met and befriended along the way, truly provided a once in a lifetime experience. Vietnam was always a country that I had learned about during history as a dense jungle full of communism and hatred for America, but after visiting I can say firsthand that it is so much more than that. I got to learn about culture, foods, and religions and see places like the Mekong Delta and the Cu Chi Tunnels, that seem impossible to explain in words. Overall, going to Vietnam I feel made me a better person as in those two weeks I picked up and developed skills that will help me with problems that I face for the rest of my life.
One of the skills I had to utilize to succeed on this trip was have the ability to be flexible and adapt to any curveball that Vietnam decided to throw at me. We did not have a schedule planned out by the hour everyday. So as crazy as it sounds I had to plan when to eat based upon how long it was before we got lunch or when I would get a chance to stop and reapply my sunscreen or bug spray. Also coming back the universe decided to really push the flexibility of those of us flying back to Pittsburgh to the max, after our flight got delayed by 5 hours when we were so close to home.
I also feel like this trip made me an overall better communicator due to the distinct language barrier between us and the Vietnamese students that we worked with along the way. Some people were easier to talk to as their English was better, but I really learned how to listen better to really understand exactly what was being said to me. In the market I dealt with people who might have only spoken very view words that I understood, but by using what I had learned during language class and by piecing together what they were trying to say, I was able to get absolute bargains on rather nice items for me and my family.
The most important skill to me that I developed further on this trip was definitely my time management skills. On this trip we had class and site visits that had to be balanced with our end of the day activities almost everyday. On top of that we all had to make time to write our blogs and get them in on time, despite the difficulties caused by the hotel Wi-Fi. I really value this skill because as an Resident Assistant next semester I will need excellent time management to get through that on top of all of my engineering classes.
This trip has given me life experiences that I will cherish and never forget. The people I met have become great friends in my mind and I hope we all stay in touch moving forward. In total I would just like to thank the University of Pittsburgh, UEF, and anyone else who helped make this once in a lifetime experience possible.