That’s a Wrap, or is it a Spring Roll?

After finishing up the trip with final presentations, sports day, and a very long trip home, it’s finally hitting me that this experience is over. It was 2 weeks of learning about the business world both in and out of Vietnam, tech developments happening in the country, and Vietnamese culture and history. It was nothing like I have ever, or will ever, experience. I am so thankful for all the people who made it so special, too.

Over the two weeks, I definitely gained a lot of new skills that I will be able to carry into any future professional endeavor. I think my most improved skill from being in Vietnam for 2 weeks has been my flexibility. I often did not know what specifically followed what I was doing one moment, and had to be ready to go from learning a new language, to trying new food, to taking furious notes at a company tour. The amount of different things I had to do in one day always had me on my toes, but helped me learn how to switch from task A to task B very easily. For example, one day we had a lesson in Buddhism, visited gorgeous Buddhist monuments and temples, ate lunch, went to the emotionally draining War Remnants Museum, bargained at the Ben Thanh market, and wrapped up with learning the Vietnamese language. All of these things were great learning experiences, but different kinds of learning. Learning in a classroom is far different than learning in a museum. Being able to be flexible with what the day has in store will definitely help me be a versatile professional.

Another skill I have learned these past dozen days has been time management. I have always been a procrastinator, but there was no time to dawdle in Vietnam. Like I said before, every day packed the activities to the brim, and I still had to write the blog every day, meet with my group for the presentation, and have fun with the Pitt and UEF students in the evenings. Every day, I would have to come back to the room, sit down and grind out the blog to ensure that I could enjoy myself later. Getting tasks done and out of the way like that is far more satisfying than letting them linger, and I think I’ll be able to carry that into my school work and beyond.

The last of my notable skills gained in Vietnam would definitely have to be active listening and communications skills. I often found myself straining to understand some Vietnamese speakers, but also found that I learned a lot from them. Our language teacher being a good example, I would have to focus on just her while she struggled to talk over the ambiance in the room, along with her accented English. Because of this, I really listened to every word she had to say and found that I gained more from that extreme attention. As far as communicating, I sometimes had to rephrase questions for those with weaker English skills. This has taught me a lot about how much of my vocabulary I take for granted with others, and has forced me to think about how I talk with others to make sure that they get what I am saying so we can be on the same page.

My time in Vietnam will always be a highlight of my educational experience and I could not have made up a better way to start 19! Thank you for everything UEF. Thank you for everything Pitt. And thank you for everything everyone. I’ll be back Vietnam, keep changing but stay exciting.

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