Ho Chi Minh City

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Food in Vietnam!

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Written by Sarah McPhillips (Clark University), Student Correspondent
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Lately I’ve realized how many pictures of food I’ve taken. But I can’t help it! It’s all so good! It’s not all Vietnamese food either. There are so many choices in food here in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh including Japanese, Indian, French, and American, etc! So I’m dedicating this post entirely to food. Because let’s be real.. who doesn’t like talking about food?!

So below is a picture of what I eat for lunch on a normal day. This consists of rice, tofu, vegetables, and soup (and a finished ice coffee, which don’t be fooled, is very different from American coffee. Dare I say even better?!) This is a typical lunch because 1. It is delicious 2. It is convenient. As seen in the picture I’m eating and doing homework. This is because where I get this meal is located in a cafe about 20 steps out my door. So it’s a great place to get a good meal and do homework.

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Below is a picture of field crabs covered in young rice (yes, that green stuff is some form of rice, and no I don’t know why it’s called young rice. That’s just the direct translation!) But these little field crabs are too small to pull the meat out, so instead we eat them whole. Yes, shell and all! These guys were not one of my favorite meals. Although the shells were cooked to be pretty soft, it was still a shell. So I probably won’t do this again. But I won’t complain. I love seafood!

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This picture is of the very popular hot pot! To the left is my friend Catherine’s roommate, Tuyet Anh, and to the right is my roommate Linh. That night the four of us (including Catherine of course!) went out for hot pot! Apparently there are many types of hot pot, but we went for the seafood hot pot. How it works is they bring you the hot pot that has a burner underneath with some type of boiling soup/ water (unsure what?) in the middle and you pretty much cook the food yourself by pushing your seafood into the boiling liquid in the middle. It was really delicious. I can see why it’s so popular!

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Below is a photo from my first experience with field crabs. Clearly not loving the little guys!

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And this little pink, black and white Dalmatian looking fruit is dragon fruit! Is it in the United States? I don’t know, it very well could be! But I had never heard of or seen it before so I’m counting it as part of my Vietnamese food adventures. It doesn’t have much flavor but it’s so pretty and refreshing who could not love it?!

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Last but very not least is sushi! There are lots of Japanese restaurants near where I’m living but this is the first time I’ve eaten sushi since being here and it will not be the last! It was so delicious! Maybe not so different from the states, but I don’t consider that a bad thing! I’ll always have a special place in my stomach for sushi! haha :)

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That’s all for now! But I’m eating great food every day, so more to come! :)

Starting to Feel at Home

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Written by Catherine Nguyen (University of Texas – Austin), Student Correspondent

So we’re a little over a month into the program and I think I can speak for everyone when I say time has flown by. Every week and every day is different here and it’s exciting yet extremely tiring at the same time. We’ve all been meeting new people and making new friends almost every day and the city is starting to feel homier. The last few weeks, we’ve spent a lot of time with my roommate and her best friends.

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Sarah, Olivia and I have wanted to cook since the day we got here so one of my roommate’s best friends offered her kitchen to us last week. We went grocery shopping at a large supermarket on the way to her house and bought ground beef, hamburger buns, cheese, lettuce, Pringles …. Sarah cut the vegetables, chopped the garlic and onions and fried the hamburger patties. Olivia tossed a salad and made grilled cheese sandwiches for the vegetarians, and I seasoned the patties and got the hamburger buns ready. The dinner turned out delicious and everyone enjoyed our American dinner. We all ended up going to a Karaoke Bar and sang a mixture of American and Vietnamese songs and had a great time.

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Last weekend, I got the chance to go to Vung Tau, a beach about two and a half hours away from Ho Chi Minh City with my roommate and her best friends. It was an awesome experience and I’m really glad I got to go. I got to see how the locals our age travel, how they live, how they eat and how they hang out. I was also able to have very interesting and insightful conversations about their culture and they were very curious about American culture as well.

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Photos and Videos from the CET 30th Anniversary Events!

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CET is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2012. The first CET group studied in Beijing in the summer of 1982 and over a quarter-century later, we headed south to Shanghai, launching a program there in 2008. Last month, CET alumni, staff, faculty, roommates and study abroad professionals came together at the M on the Bund bar/restaurant to celebrate 30 wonderful years, the vibrant and growing field of study abroad, and one of the world’s most dynamic cities: Shanghai. Executive Director, Mark Lenhart shared with guests how excited he was to be thirty years old, and introduce CET alumnus, Jamie Fleishman. Jamie studied abroad with CET in Beijing during the Spring 2010 and recently won first place in the CET alumni video/blog contest. Watch his first place alumni video here: http://cetacademicprograms.com/2012/05/11/happy-birthday-cet

In addition to showing his winning alumni video, Jamie also introduced The Stars of CET video, which features footage from the 30th Anniversary events held in Beijing this past June.

Check out The Stars of CET video here:

Here’s to 30 more years!

Click here to see more photos from the CET Shanghai event

Click below to read more about CET 30th Anniversary events, contests, photos and videos:

Our Trek to the Perfume Pagoda!

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Written by Lauren Nicole Blake-Whitney (Hobart and William Smith Colleges), 

HWS and Union Colleges in Vietnam program (15 week program operated by CET Academic Programs), Fall 2012

I’ve had my fair share of seeing pagodas on this trip, but this particular program excursion had us visit one that was especially fascinating.  Called Chùa Hương in Vietnamese, this pagoda is located in the Huong Tich Mountains and nestled inside a cave.  The location of the pagoda is difficult to reach by foot, the trail leading up into the mountains was quite rocky, steep and uneven and the stairs are unusually high.  It was particularly hot and sunny that day, which made the steep climb that much more difficult.  I certainly got my workout in that day!

Many Vietnamese pilgrimage to this particular site because it was supposedly the place that Bodhisattva, (or Quan Am in Vietnamese) frequented to help save souls.  The site is considered sacred ground for Vietnamese, particularly for women and the elderly.  Women go there to pray for fertility.  The elderly climb the steep slope to the cave in hopes that they will be blessed with a peaceful, fruitful transition into the afterlife.  Many even seek to lie their body to rest in the area.  Others mainly visit to pray for prosperity.

Our trek began with a 45 minute boat ride along the Yen River, which consisted of a leisure float that wound through the lush Huong Tich Mountains.  It was an incredible view and we further enjoyed ourselves by singing a variety of nostalgic American songs which passed around from boat to boat.  The rowers and Vietnamese tourists found this a curious and amusing spectacle.  We then banked at the trail head and sat down for a quick bite to eat before our long trek. As I mentioned before, it was quite strenuous, but it was worth the sore calves.

After we reached the summit we descended down some old stone staircase to the wide gaping entrance of the cave.  The site was truly surreal: the air was damp and hazy with incense smoke and the area was pleasantly quiet.  We descended even further down into the depths of the cave to the lavishly decorated shrine dedicated to Quan Am and the Buddha.  It was such a wonderful idea to have established a place of worship in a beautiful, yet serene natural structure.  In addition, I appreciate that the pagoda pays special attention to its female deity. I also understand now why people seek to find solace here; one doesn’t have to be religious to feel its tranquility and see its beauty.