CET Vietnam

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About

Looking to experience international development in action? On top of engaging electives and Vietnamese language classes, CET Vietnam gives you the chance to roll up your sleeves and dive in with a customizable curriculum. Interested in research? Want to intern at a local non-profit? You get to decide. Multidisciplinary courses, taught in English, provide background knowledge for hands-on experiences, and challenge you to look for broader applications of the theories you learn. You'll also live with a Vietnamese roommate to bring cultural immersion into your home life, too. No matter your choice of curriculum, your classes get you out the door and learning in the city and Vietnam—you'll even have a 9-day Traveling Seminar to bring development themes to life. All CET Vietnam programs are open to students of all majors and language levels, including heritage learners.

Highlights
  • Development studies in the bustling Ho Chi Minh City
  • Customizable Vietnamese language instruction
  • Internship or guided research opportunities
  • Out-of-classroom learning & assignments
  • Traveling Seminar to North & Central Vietnam and an excursion to the Mekong Delta

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Reviews

9.41 Rating
based on 17 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 76.47%
  • 7-8 rating 23.53%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Academics 7.7
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.3
  • Housing 8.9
  • Safety 8.9
Showing 1 - 8 of 17
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Nina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Adventure Pho Sure

I don't know where to begin to describe how wonderful and fun this summer program was! I didn't know anyone else going on this program, but I actually preferred it that way. I met such kind people, classes were really engaging (not too tough), and the internship component tailored to each person's interest, which was really nice. I had the chance to explore different parts of Vietnam as well as try all types of food, such as Pho in Ha Noi. Trust me when I say this: the food in Vietnam is PHENOMENAL. My favorite dish was Bún Thịt Nướng, you gotta try it. Overall, this program presented me the opportunity to explore my heritage in the best ways possible. I was also really fortunate to have a super supportive and dedicated staff as well as peers who are now lifelong friends.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
You'll definitely want to take a lot of pictures, but don't spend all your time trying to capture every moment you have. Be present and immerse yourself.
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William
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Go To Viet Nam!

The experience that I had with CET in Viet Nam is one that I will never forget, without a doubt it has changed my life. The community based learning program is not a typical internship, it is physical service work in a small town in Viet Nam. The physical nature of it was fairly intense, but overcoming the struggle of the work together as a group made us that much closer. For a group of over twenty people everyone got along great and I consider each and everyone of them a great friend. The Vietnamese and American students didn't let culture or language get in the way of building lasting bonds and memories. Besides the work on building a basketball court we also taught language at a local school, and on weekends traveled together to beautiful places around the central region of the country. The program offered endless opportunities to immerse ourselves in the culture and language of central Viet Nam. My biggest takeaway from the program is that there are amazing people in the world who strive to make a difference, that there is hope for a better and more harmonious future for humanity. Do something out of the ordinary, GO TO VIET NAM!

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Julie
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

an amazing summer!

I had an incredible time with CET Vietnam. Unlike the spring and fall program, the summer program only has one traveling seminar. Coursework was flexible enough to allow for some travel, but work did start to pile up towards the end of the program. I loved my Vietnamese class, and the Development Studies class gave me a good overview of development issues in Vietnam. I loved the people at my internship, but the work I did was not directly related to my interests. Although my dorm room had some issues and accommodations could use improvement, the dorm was centrally located in the city and was walking distance from many attractions in the city. I had a local roommate, and I found it rather difficult to connect with her, but I made some truly amazing friends through the program. Overall, I had an extraordinary time exploring Vietnam and learning about Vietnamese culture. I feel like this experience helped my develop significantly, personally and professionally.

What would you improve about this program?
I think the internship match process should have been more transparent. I submitted my resume and answered questions about my internship, but in the end I had no choice in where I was placed. I requested an internship in public health, and while I was placed at an NGO that worked in the field, my project was not quite suited to a public health major but rather a journalism or advertisement/marketing major. Three interns were placed at this organization, and our project was not suited to any of our strengths or career goals. Although the people at the organization were incredibly supportive and friends and the experience was still valuable, I wish I could have chosen my internship or at least had a chance to request a different placement. Additionally, the local roommate match could have been better. I, and several of my friends, had unsatisfactory experiences with our local roommates, and I don't think it was simply due to cultural difference.
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Julia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience with CET Vietnam!

The staff is incredibly helpful, caring, and all around great people to spend time with. They really want you to have the best experience in their country. Great attention was paid to matching me with an internship as well. The coursework wasn't so heavy that it took away from my time exploring the city. The excursions to other regions of Vietnam and to Cambodia were very rewarding and super fun. I will truly miss my time with CET Vietnam!

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing that would make this program better, would be 3 day weekends in the schedule. Spring break was really the only opportunity for meaningful independent travel, but if I had a longer weekend, I would definitely see more of the country!
Bristi
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Take me back to Vietnam

If there was a word to describe my time and experience studying abroad in Vietnam, it would be the word "immersive". Throughout the whole experience, the traveling seminars, guided CET activities, and the inclusion of a Vietnamese roommate really allowed me to explore the country for all its unique aspects.
The traveling seminars took us all around north and central Vietnam and we were able to go to Cambodia as well. My favorite excursion was when we made a visit to the Mekong Delta and visited several local farms and kitchens with our Vietnamese roommates. I even learned how to make rice paper and banh xeo from the locals there. We were able to apply some of the academic content to what we were seeing and learning around the country. But of course the best part of the traveling was experimenting with the different foods of each region. The cuisine of Vietnam is flexible and there are options for vegetarians, fish lovers, etc. You can easily find food that is suitable for you!.
In the beginning, mainly in orientation week, CET led us on several guided activities to help us get a better feeling of Ho Chi Minh City and bond with our roommates. I particularly remember the scavenger hunt, where we raced from market to city center to boba shop with my roommate to collect the most points. With her expertise knowledge of the city, we were able to win the competition and we became really closer after that.
This leads to my most favorite aspect part of the program, which was my Vietnamese roommate, Thanh. Over the course of four months, we developed such a close bond and did practically everything together. Over the weekends, I was invited to her house to spend time with her family, went on late night motorbike rides, indulged in late night street food, and even spent the entire fall break exploring more of North Vietnam. I think the most unique thing we did was get our hair done together for seven hours straight. She was the one who convinced me to dye my hair, and I still am getting compliments about my hair today. Thanh and I still chat over the internet everyday, and I do hope to see her in the near future when I return back to Vietnam.
Tips:
- Be flexible. In America, we have a very structured way of living in our personal, academic, and professional environments. In Vietnam, you will learn how to be more flexible and learn how to accept things as they come. The best mindset to have is not to dwell on what could have been accomplished or done in the time given. You have a large period of time in the country, and you are there to enjoy your time, not complain of what could have been.
- Be open. You will experience some uncomfortable situations. But try and prevent yourself from forming judgements about the person or situation. You are a guest in this country, and you are here to listen and learn.
- Have fun! Anyone can make their study experience good or bad based on the attitude they have. If you don't enjoy a specific aspect of the program or want to change any things, find something else you enjoy to do. You have been afforded a great privilege to study abroad in a beautiful, rich country and the experience will be what you make of it.
- Be respectful.

What would you improve about this program?
I think the academic and internship piece of this program could use the most improvement. Going into this program, many of us looked forward to learning about the public health issues, policies, etc. affecting Vietnam and the larger South east Asian region. However, by the end of the program, I feel that our class only scratched the surface of these issues and we went off topic many times. The workload of the program was also very skewed with many projects, long essays, etc. occurring during our traveling seminars, which we weren't able to enjoy because of this workload.
I was really fortunate to intern at a such a wonderful organization in Ho Chi Minh City. However, before this program, we were given the wrong information as to what internships would be available and thus had different options when we arrived.
female selfie in mountains
Samantha
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

CET Development Studies: An Unforgettable Experience!

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.

Tips:
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

What would you improve about this program?
I wish there were more opportunities to meet local students from nearby universities.
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Thu
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An interdisciplinary approach to public health

I initially decided to apply to this program offered by CET Vietnam, because as an undergraduate student planning to eventually become a practicing physician, I find it crucial to broaden my views and examine the social determinants of health. My short 8 weeks in Vietnam allowed me to not only study these factors, but also to fully immerse myself in the beautiful Vietnamese culture.

Culture/people:
Being Vietnamese-American in this program meant that my identity landed me right in the middle of two very different cultures. I was initially worried that I would not fit into either group, but I quickly came to realize I didn’t have to fit into a category. I had incredible support and constantly had the CET staff, my roommate, or my program-mates to discuss with. I learned more about myself with every interaction I had (even if it was just my uber driver!!), and being able to interface with the Vietnamese public was a special opportunity.

Academics/internship:
The summer program consisted of 3 courses: public health and development, service-learning, and Vietnamese language. The language course was very well organized, and I found my Vietnamese improved quickly because of how much I was able to practice and ask questions. The public health course, alongside the internship, moved outside the typical teaching style I was used to. Instead of the typical classroom learning, we always had the chance to attend events or interact with Vietnamese people in order to apply our readings and lectures on an interpersonal level. I greatly appreciated that each student could dive into the material as little or as much as they wanted to.

I am incredibly happy that at the conclusion of the two-month program, I was able to learn more about Vietnam’s development, gain insight about my identity, and make friends I know I will keep for a lifetime.

What would you improve about this program?
Though I enjoyed the non-conventional angle this program took on public health, I think other students would enjoy a course with more health-related content or should receive more information so that they have the right expectations going into the program.
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Dylan
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Vietnam is the place to go.

When deciding what program to pursue for study abroad, I knew that I was very interested in going to SE Asia, but I just didn't know where. As luck would have it, I stumbled upon the CET program at a study abroad fair and was very intrigued. I have now returned from said program and know that I made the right decision. Vietnam is an absolutely beautiful country and CET helped me see all of that. The program staff took us on several trips throughout the country where we got to learn more history and about haw the Vietnam War has shaped the country. Also, they were very accommodating in offering local activities and excursions to partake in during our time in ho Chi Minh City. Everything about HCMC (with exception of the heat) was amazing. The food is phenomenal and reasonably priced and the guest house accommodations CET provides are close to SO much. I absolutely loved my time in Vietnam and know that you will too should you choose to go with CET. Also, one amazing thing is that they are very generous with refunding for cultural events or trips. So, if you go to a museum or see a show, they will work to try and reimburse you for your ticket or fee to ensure that you can experience as much as possible!