I really enjoyed volunteering at the clinic in Da Lat. It gives you a wonderful exposure of the day to day hum of activities for a local clinic. You get to see the local life in this beautiful town of Da Lat and is such an interesting way to get to know Vietnam. The staff are all very eager to get to know you, and even though there is a language barrier, you make do with hand gestures, and smiles. There was a doctor who had excellent English and a pharmacist who was eager to practice her English with me, and so the two of them took me under their wing. Not just in terms of showing me around the clinic, but also to explore around the town, showing me the best cafes and taking me out to eat and explore. I went during November/December and was the only volunteer at the time, so it was nice to have these 2 women be my companions to hang out with. There is plenty of time in the afternoons to explore the area, and relax. The work at the clinic consists of helping with immunizations, drawing blood, and working at the front desk to fill the medication orders in the little pharmacy behind.
I rotated one week in each activity, and spent 3 weeks in total. I think this experience gives you a little medical exposure to get your toes wet, but provides you with an enormous amount of experience of being comfortable with being uncomfortable, and learning to take things as you go. I got sick the first night I arrived, and the staff helped me considerably. Even though you might be the only volunteer, know you always have support! Vietnam is a wonderful country with lots to offer and explore. The thing about volunteering abroad versus at home is the additional aspect of getting to discover a whole new culture, open up your views to a whole different way of life, and see the beauty of the world. Even though professionally, this wasn't the strongest in terms of directly impacting my academics, it helped me grow personally.
My only regret is that I didn't get to stay long enough to explore the rest of the country. I spent a weekend trip hiking at one of the mountains nearby, and another on an Easyrider tour to the coast, Mui Ne, stopping along the way at various farms and loved riding through the beautiful mountainous region of the central highlands. So if you go, save time before you fly out to explore more of the country! The food is great and there is a diversity of nature all around you will be sure to fall in love with.