I was thrilled when I initially learned about this program, which allowed me to travel to Vietnam in addition to taking part in undergraduate research. I thought this program was a terrific opportunity for me to learn something new even though I really had no idea what to anticipate. Despite my enthusiasm for the program, I was apprehensive to apply because of the obligations associated with conducting research. In addition, I was anxious about leaving home and traveling across the world without knowing anybody.
Although I had all these fears when going abroad, I would say going to Vietnam was one of the best decisions I have made in my college career. I would highly recommend that anyone in college take part in a study abroad program, especially one that is not a traditional study abroad program like mine was.
For my study abroad program I got to live in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for two months while I worked at one of the biggest hospitals located there. Although two months seems like a long time to be away from home it flies by so quickly. Vietnam is a place unlike any other place in the world I have been to. The culture, customs and the weather are so vastly different from what I have experienced in America. I think the most shocking aspect of going to Vietnam is how the traffic works there. In Vietnam there are really no traffic laws in place which makes the traffic very chaotic and scary. I would have to say that this aspect of Vietnam was one I was so dumbfounded by. Even though the traffic was so crazy it somehow worked.
I really enjoyed my time in Vietnam. I feel like I got to really experience every aspect of their culture especially because I got to be a part of their workforce. When working in Vietnam I got to learn a lot about the work life balance and the major differences between America and Vietnam. Additionally, I got to learn how medicine is practiced in Vietnam. This was such an amazing opportunity. I got to work as a PT tech and got to work and observe the ER, the spinal cord injury floor, brain trauma floor and the OR. I truly got a once in a lifetime experience working at the hospital in Vietnam. An experience like this one is one that I would never have had in America.
Even though I loved my time in Vietnam I did face some challenges that I did not expect. One challenge I faced while abroad was that the privacy rules were different. What I mean by this is in America it is considered rude and offensive if someone goes and touches you or takes photos of you without permission. However, in Vietnam this is not viewed as rude and inconsiderate. This was a big culture shock for me and was honestly hard to get used to. But after realizing that the intention of the Vietnamese people was different, I began to loosen up about it.
Every moment I spent in Vietnam was a blessing! I will never forget this life changing experience. Studying abroad in a place like Vietnam has made me realize how little I know about the world. This experience has really opened my eyes to the possibilities that the world has to offer me.
Michelle Gragg (BS HHP Exercise Science) spent the Summer 2023 semester studying abroad in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam through ISA. Michelle’s thoughts on Ho Chi Minh City, “A city that never stops.”
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