Category Archives: learning

First Impressions: Vietnam

Well, Vietnam and I got off on the wrong foot.

Someone robbed me on my very first day here, but I am working really hard not to let that affect my perception of Vietnam the place.

First let me just say… Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) is NOT Phnom Penh! And so it follows that Vietnam and Cambodia are in general quite different. On the surface, many things may appear similar, or even the same– but other aspects are worlds apart.

The overall “personalities” of Vietnam and Cambodia are noticeably different: Cambodians seem to be far more laid back, whereas the Vietnamese, while also very friendly, seem slightly more guarded. However, I’m staying in a placeĀ fullĀ of tourists; in these parts, I wouldn’t be surprised if any and all peoples were guarded. They are also more openly attentive to the expressions on your face– if you look confused or dissatisfied with something, they’ll ask you what’s wrong. I’m so not used to that anymore. In Cambodia, you could be crying on the street and most people will probably not ask you what’s wrong– not because they don’t care, but because they think it’s none of their business, that’s it’s rude to pry, even if you’re laying it all out there.

Holy smokes, there are a LOT of churches in this town! I mean, after being in Cambodia where it’s wat after wat after wat, I just wasn’t expecting it. Christianity has yet to catch on in any form in Cambodia, despite centuries of missions by various brands. There are Catholic churches, Baptists, JW, 7th Day, Mormons, etc. But none of them have much of a following.

There is some fantastic artwork, including wearable art like these really unique graphic tees (yeah I said it), paintings, weavings, jewelry, etc. which I so wish I could afford to buy, but of which I may just take pictures instead…

Speaking of pictures, there will be some forthcoming. I started uploading them last night, had a freak-out about my teaching session (which was today), and decided to quit and go to bed.

Teaching– ah, that’s why I’m here after all, isn’t it? The course is IMMENSELY challenging and EXTREMELY helpful thus far, and it’s only week one. I’ve had two teaching practices, both of which were okay, but lots to improve on. Our teacher-trainers are experienced, supportive, and full of useful, pertinent advice and feedback. And Vietnamese students are fun to teach!

We also have homework. Lots of it. In fact, I’m going to go do some now.

Peace!

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Filed under art, changes, crazy people, culture shock, HCMC (Saigon), learning, travel, Vietnam