Study Abroad in Vietnam: Vietnamese Studies & Service-Learning in Ho Chi Minh City – City & Daily Life
Ho Chi Minh City is a city of changes. The former capital of South Vietnam, known then as Saigon, was renamed after the War years to commemorate the communist leader, Ho Chi Minh.
Since then, Ho Chi Minh City has come to reflect Vietnam’s growing economy and opening to foreign investment. Traditional noodle shops sit next door to US fast food chains. Women wearing high heels ride motorbikes past women biking in traditional dress. Young people chatting on cell phones pass elderly people donning coolie hats.
But in this city of juxtaposition, CET Vietnam students notice a few consistencies: old or young, traditional or modern, the people of Ho Chi Minh City are friendly and welcoming. And, regardless of the fast food chain, it’s a good bet that traditional Vietnamese noodles will always taste better!
CET partners with Hong Bang University International. Hong Bang is a large university of 25,000 students. It is accredited by the Vietnamese Ministry of Education.
CET Vietnam students take Vietnamese language classes at Hong Bang’s affiliate, the Vietnamese Language Studies Saigon (VLS). This school offers a thorough Vietnamese language curriculum for all language levels. The VLS faculty is one of the best in Vietnam. VLS operates language instructor training courses and culls its own faculty from the top tier of students.
CET Center in Ho Chi Minh City
The CET Vietnam center is located in the heart of the city: famed District One. The CET office and classrooms are in the same building as the program’s language partner, VLS. This building is a short walk from student housing. The center also houses a small library and a study area for student use.
CET Vietnam students share rooms with local roommates at a guesthouse in the center of the city. Guesthouse rooms typically include basic furnishings, air-conditioning, telephones, wi-fi and small refrigerators.
Meals are not included in the program fee. Students make use of the area’s many inexpensive cafés and food vendors, all within walking distance of the guesthouse.
Sharing a room with a Vietnamese roommate is frequently cited by CET students as “one of the best parts of the program.” Many students become good friends with their roommates, sharing meals, conversation and ideas. Roommates attend many program excursions and provide invaluable insights—where to get the best beef noodles, what busses to avoid at rush hour, and which pop singer just put out the latest must-have CD.
“Our roommates are amazing! They love to ask us questions about life in the States. Their favorite topics: love, music and school. I can’t say enough wonderful things about the roommates because they are not only great resources for us to really immerse ourselves into Vietnamese culture, but they really have become our close friends in such a short span of time.” – Taegan Williams, Spring 2012 alumna, Bates College