CET Vietnam

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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.

  • 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

Questions & Answers


based on 16 reviews
  • Academics 7.9
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.3
  • Housing 8.9
  • Safety 8.9
Showing 1 - 15 of 16
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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!

Yes, I recommend this program
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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.

How can this program be improved?
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.
Yes, I recommend this program
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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!

How can this program be improved?
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!
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.
- 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.

How can this program be improved?
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.
Yes, I recommend this program
female selfie in mountains

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.

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

How can this program be improved?
I wish there were more opportunities to meet local students from nearby universities.
Yes, I recommend this program
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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.

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.

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.

How can this program be improved?
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.
Yes, I recommend this program
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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!

Yes, I recommend this program
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It was a risk, but I do not regret it

Until my study abroad term, I was very involved in a student organisation and starting to get more involved in a Biology lab at my college. I felt guilty for leaving these important people behind for a whole semester, and I was worried about how I would fit back in. I was also concerned about not receiving credit for a semester because I was studying abroad on a leave of absence from my college. But in the end, I have no regrets.

My friends back in college are curious to know about my experience in Vietnam since nobody has recently been on this program. I've gotten more attention from peers, professors, and employers because of my stories from Vietnam. And although my senior year will be tough, the memories and people I met through CET Vietnam are irreplaceable to me and they have helped me understand that I do want to have a career in public health in the future. I genuinely hope to return to Saigon so I can reunite with my roommate and to see other places in Vietnam that I did not get to explore while I was there.

Yes, I recommend this program

The "I" in Vietnam

Studying abroad in Vietnam for two and a half months was an inspirational experience for me. Being away from my family and friends, I had to step up to the game and learn to become independent and responsible. This trip opened my eyes and expanded my horizon. I got the chance to be a part of a different culture, to learn new customs, and to experience life from the perspective of a third world country.

How can this program be improved?
In my opinion, there is room for improvement of this program:
- A better internship: I hope that this program will be able to find internships that will allow the students to physically be active and feel like they are helping to the best of their abilities.
- More topics about public health issues that will allow the students to apply their knowledge to the situations they see.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Great times with great people in a great place

When I began researching study abroad options, I knew I wanted a program in a unique location, opportunities to actually connect with the culture and not just be in an American bubble, and hands-on learning among other things. This program absolutely fulfilled that. Living in Saigon is never dull and there are so many things to do. There is something going on at all times which sometimes made it hard to remember that it was necessary to sleep. It is hot. Like really, really hot. But you do get used to it and I wouldn't let that deter you. The pollution is also pretty bad but you will learn from it.

My favorite part of the program was hands down having a Vietnamese roommate. During my semester, there were 7 American students who were each paired up with a Vietnamese student. The students are all fluent in English, very excited to be friends with you, and eager to bring you to all the best places in the city. My roommate and I loved hanging out at one of the many many cafes in the city, hitting up rooftop bars, riding around on her motorbike, going to art museums, doing homework together…We all became such a close knit group of friends through our crazy adventures and I still talk to my Vietnamese friends all the time through Facebook. We traveled together and even visited the homes of some of the roommates. Showing up at one of our roommate's homes in the middle of the night after taking a long bus ride up to central Vietnam and discovering that her house was a Czech Republic brewery was one of my best memories. I also wound up at Vietnam's first ever Burning Man music festival with some of our roommates and their guitar club... The roommate component of the program really sets you up to have some incredible opportunities.

Food. Oh yummm. So tasty. And so cheap. Like $1 for an entire meal. As a vegetarian, the food scene was sometimes challenging but you can definitely make it work. Street food is a huge part of Vietnamese culture and you will never run out of new things to try. Since there is no kitchen, you will eat out for almost all of your meals-breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are so many options but it can get tiring after a while. There’s a mini fridge in the room you can use for snacks though and there is a 24 hour convenience store right around the corner.

Classes were challenging but not overwhelming. The curriculum is very relevant and you will find yourself making solid connections between what you're talking about in the classroom and what you're seeing on the streets. There is a reasonable amount of reading and assignments and the professor allows you a lot of freedom to focus on what you're most interested in. For example, you could do a photo essay instead of a written essay if you wanted. You also get to go on a lot of fieldtrips and even week long travelling seminars. Instead of sitting in a classroom talking about foreign investment, we would take a bus to a megamall and walk around learning about Japan's role in Vietnam's emerging economy.

The internship component had a lot of promise but unfortunately didn't turn out to be the best for me. My organization had some management issues but other students had great internships. The program staff were very receptive to feedback about our internships and they are always working to improve these.

You will also definitely be able to travel during the semester during breaks and weekends. Some students' parents came to travel with them and others just traveled in small groups. It's easy to travel for cheap here. Think $5/night for a hostel. So nice.

I would absolutely recommend this program to someone looking for an immersive, challenging, exciting abroad experience but you should definitely understand that you will be living, learning, and travelling with a small group which may not be a good fit for someone would prefer a large university environment. I loved this program and had a great time.

Yes, I recommend this program

Running a 5k in Vietnam

One of the best aspects of the cet Vietnam program is the service learning. While I was working for vinacapital foundation, I helped plan a giant 5k fundraiser. I got all the other cet students and Vietnamese roommates to join. And we participated in an event with over 5000 other people! My picture ended up in multiple Vietnamese newspaper, making me feel like quite the celebrity; one was captioned in Vietnamese s"even foriegners enjoy the race" :)

How can this program be improved?
They definitely needed some more help. While I was there, there were only two people running the whole operation. While it was great to have such a individualized experience, I could definitely tell Christophe and by were overworked. Both are wonderful, but they could definitely use another professor or program assistant
Yes, I recommend this program
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8 weeks was only enough for a taste

CET did a great job taking care of us and making sure that we had the right connections/internships and learning experience. However, I found the program too short for all the complex discussion topics that we went into. Each week we would learn about a different public health/development issue and I felt like we only had the time to scrape the surface of these problems. However, besides that, Vietnam is an amazing country-so full of culture and beauty!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Ticket to childhood

I was born in Vietnam but I moved to the United States when I was ten. When I studied abroad in Vietnam this summer, it was an amazing journey back to my childhood. In a sense, this program gave me an opportunity to travel back to my homeland while giving me a good reason to return. My favorite memory was riding bicycles in the countryside when we traveled down to the Mekong Delta area. It was exhilarating because I have never ridden a bike on such small roads but also nostalgic because the scenery was so close to home.

How can this program be improved?
More traveling seminars.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Summer in Saigon

This was a life-changing experience for me, as I was able to learn more about my roots as a Vietnamese-American. I enjoyed the courses, especially dealing with public health since it was directly applicable to things I saw in everyday life in Vietnam. My internship with Breast Cancer Network Vietnam also helped me develop my communication and organizational skills and opened my eyes to some of the cultural challenges patients faced. The roommates were hands-down the BEST part of this program. They knew all the good, non-touristy places to eat. Outside of that, they were such great resources for learning Vietnamese and road-tripping throughout Vietnam. They were honestly more than just "CET roommates", but rather lifelong friends. Thank you CET for connecting me with such wonderful people!

How can this program be improved?
The intermediate VLS class should provide more resources for the teacher and students. We were not given any books to learn from.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Study Abroad in Saigon, Vietnam

My experience studying abroad in Vietnam was great. I took Vietnamese language classes, classes on Vietnam's development and public health, and had a service learning placement at a local NGO. Both CET staff and Vietnamese language teachers were extremely helpful and nice. I learned a lot both inside and outside of the classroom. What I experienced and observed during daily life in Vietnam was explained by what we discussed in class and vice versa. My service learning placement was a terrific experience, I had the opportunity to interact with Vietnamese staff and volunteers. We exchanged knowledge and I gained professional experience. My day to day life consisted of going to classes, studying with friends, frequenting the nearby alley for lunch, and exploring Saigon's markets and parks. I had the opportunity to experience other places in Vietnam as well, thanks to the traveling seminars and personal traveling during spring break, in which I went on a trekking trip. The food was delicious and inexpensive. I had to buy water and be careful of petty theft, but overall felt very safe in HCMC. A wonderful program and wonderful country that opened me up to so much new knowledge, experiences, and possibilities.

How can this program be improved?
A little bit bigger enrollment. I liked the small program, but a few more students would be beneficial.
Yes, I recommend this program


Meet the Alumni

About CET Academic Programs

CET Academic Programs is a study abroad organization that has been developing and delivering innovative educational programs abroad since 1982. Originally “China Educational Tours,” CET began operations in Beijing, and today offers a varied portfolio...