After two weeks in Vietnam I’m happy to be home and readjusted to life in the US; however, I’m also sad that the trip had to come to an end. The crazy streets and food in Ho Chi Minh City, along with all of the UEF and Pitt students that I met, are just a few of the many amazing things that I’ll miss about Vietnam. Though it was only two weeks, being in a country on the other side of the world that is so drastically different from the US taught me a number of skills that will benefit me in my future academic and career endeavors.
One skill I was able to enhance during the trip was time management. Every day we had multiple activities planned and not a lot of time for sitting around and relaxing. Also, each day after we finished our site visits or day trips, the UEF students were eager to take us out to their favorite restaurants and stores as soon as we got back. Therefore, it was important for me to manage my time, so I was able to go explore the city and hang out with the students while avoiding staying up until midnight writing my blog. In order to do this, I worked towards getting myself into a routine for the two weeks that we were there in order to finish my work on time. The bus rides back from the activities were usually long so I would try to use them to gather my thoughts for the blog and also rest so I wouldn’t be too tired while trying to finish my blog before dinner. Then, by the time we got back to the hotel I was able to transfer all of my ideas into a word document and get my blog completed with plenty of time to spare to get ready to meet the UEF students.
Another skill I improved on during the trip was problem solving with incomplete information. Prior to the trip we were assigned a project on the Phu My Hung Development Corporation. After researching the company, there were a number of dots that my group and I were unable to connect due to the extremely large-scale work that the company does as well as the difficulty of trying to translate some of the information on the company’s website. This made putting the project together difficult as we had to figure out what information was accurate and could be relayed to the group in a way that would give them a general understanding of the company even though we were unable to get a great idea of the company ourselves. Overcoming this issue helped lay out a baseline for the specific questions we wanted to ask on the site visit. This allowed us to compare our initial thoughts on the company with the detailed information given on the site visit and gather a full understanding of the company prior to our final presentation.
Finally, I learned how to communicate better, both verbally and nonverbally. With the students, and on the site visits, I was able to improve my verbal communication skills. Even though the students and the people on the site visits all spoke English there were often things that I said that would be misinterpreted or misunderstood. Because of this, I had to work on my communication skills in order to rephrase questions or comments to make sure that we were all on the same page. This is something that will be beneficial in the future when displaying communication skills in job interviews or when working with other people from around the world. My nonverbal communication skills were beneficial when at restaurants and stores where the people did not speak English. In these cases, I always made my best attempt to respectfully point and use hand signals to convey what I was trying to say. For the most part, these were effective and I was able to consistently communicate with waiters and salesman in order to solve problems.
Leading up to the trip, I was nervous about so many of the different aspects of travelling to a country like Vietnam. But, now that the trip is over, I couldn’t be happier that I was able to participate and learn so many things about such an interesting culture and rapidly developing economy. I hope Plus 3 was just the beginning of my adventures abroad, and I hope I can travel back to Vietnam at some point in the near future.