CET Development Studies: An Unforgettable Experience!

Academics: 10
Support: 10
Fun: 10
Housing: 9
Safety: 9

CET Vietnam is a great program if you want to gain hands-on experience and totally immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture. The two best aspects of the program are the local roommates and the excursions. The local roommates and CET staff are such wonderful people and they really care about the students. When I was sick or faced challenges at my internship, my roommate and the CET staff supported me and helped me to figure out a solution.

My roommate, Quỳnh, helped me with my Vietnamese and showed me all of the best food stalls and cool cafes. We talked about everything and hung out together every day. Having a local roommate gave me unparalleled opportunities to learn about Vietnamese culture and explore new things. We discussed the public health and development issues I learned about in class, as well as the international relations issues she learned about in her classes. All in all, we became very close friends and we have stayed in touch using Viber and Facebook.

The language teachers at VLS are all fantastic. I went to Vietnam without having studied Vietnamese before and I was able to order food and have basic conversations by the end of the semester. The small class sizes and effective teaching methods ensure that students can learn Vietnamese at their own pace.

The excursions are very fun and educational. Some of my favorite experiences from the traveling excursions include making banh xeo and banh trang in the Mekong Delta, visiting the floating crocodile farms at Tonle Sap Lake, walking through the night market in Hanoi, visiting the Tinh Truc Gia living community in Hue, and seeing the Phare Circus in Siemp Reap. It was wonderful to learn about so many different regions in Vietnam and observe their distinct cultures. The excursion to Cambodia was also a great opportunity to learn about public health and development issues across Southeast Asia.

I definitely experienced culture shock and struggled with challenges such as the heat, bugs, and food poisoning. However, I knew that I could rely on my roommate and the CET staff so I always felt safe. Furthermore, those challenges enabled me to become a more flexible, open-minded person and to develop strong problem-solving skills. If you are looking for an adventurous, rewarding experience, CET Vietnam is the perfect program for you! I truly appreciate all of the great experiences I had in Vietnam and I will treasure my memories of eating banh mi op la with Quỳnh and teaching English at the May 15 School.

1) Wear long pants! Long pants will protect you from mosquitoes and you can buy some inexpensive elephant pants that aren't too hot.
2) Explore "hidden alley gems." Alleys in Vietnam have amazing food stalls and relaxing cafes that are great to study and hang out in. Check out saigoneer.com for more information on Saigon's best restaurants and cafes.
3) Take pictures of menus at local restaurants and study them in order to learn food vocabulary. This will enable you to explore Vietnamese cuisine independently and learn how to say all of your favorite foods in Vietnamese. Be sure to ask your roommate for food recommendations too!
4) Be open-minded! Try as many new things as you can and talk to the people in your host community. It can be very challenging to explore when you can't speak Vietnamese well, but people are very friendly and there are new adventures down every alley.
5) Be respectful! Think critically about your various privileges and how they influence your interactions with others. You are a guest in another country and respect, not entitlement, is the best way to approach another culture.

Top 20 Foods to Try:
1) Bun cha
2) Banh cuon
3) Hu tieu
4) Banh mi op la
5) Canh chua
6) Banh xeo
7) Bun Thit Nuong
8) Bun bo Hue
9) Bo ne
10) Banh beo
11) Pho dac biet
12) Dau hu sot ca chua
13) Banh pho mai chanh day
14) Sinh to mang cut dau
15) Banh khot
16) Goi cuon
17) Bo bia
18) Mi quang
19) Com tam thit nuong
20) Chuoi boc nep nuong

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
Year Completed