Similarities wise, they’re just like us. They love to have fun and hang out, they are very involved in their studies, they love the NBA, etc. I had nice conversation about the Finals with one of the buddies, boy Minh. He surprised me when he mentioned Okafor, Winslow, Tyus, and the championship team last year. It made me happy there were Duke fans around the world. Talking to some of our buddies, things they love to do involve watching movies, hanging out with friends at parks, and going out! College students go out to bars and clubs just like us in America do. Although one edge they have on us is karaoke, which obviously needs to be much bigger in the US since it’s way better than anything mentioned above. Students there (and people in general) listen to Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. Once again, it made me happy when girl Minh (a lot of people are named Minh) said she thoroughly enjoyed county music.
There’s definitely a mix of differences in daily lives and the college experiences. My favorite talk thus far was definitely walking back from karaoke to the guesthouse with another buddy Tram. To throw it out there her middle name in Minh, to complete the Tri-Minh-fecta of buddies that I’ve mentioned in this post. She goes to bed at around 12-12:30am in the morning, which I thought was much earlier than my usual 2-3am. But then she mentioned she woke up at 5am every morning for school. The school schedules are much more defined, with classes starting at 7am. She must commute an hour by bus to get to school (makes the 10min C1 ride from East Campus to West Campus seem like pattycake) and she usually gets back late at night, usually after 8pm. Oh, a thing to throw in here is the instant bond we made over instant noodles! Students usually doesn’t have too much time to cook so they either go out and grab something quick or make something like instant noodles. After doing homework and getting to bed, it’s the same schedule over again. It really puts in perspective how much more strict and rigorous education is in this country. Most college students live from home, the rich ones go abroad. Something that me and Tram discussed was the idea of community. The US college environment gives us many opportunities to foster it through clubs, common rooms, classes, and just a lot of down time to get to know people. In Vietnam, they really only have clubs to get to know people really well. They’re very limited by their everyday schedules.
I’ve mentioned the importance of English before, but talking to our buddies and the basketball bros, I gained a first hand perspective on the matter. All of our Vietnamese buddies are studying English. Yennie in particular, seeks to go into the tourism industry, so English is something she must master for her future career. Yennie, our conversations have been clear on both ends and a great job awaits you. Tram seeks a job as an English TA in college because of her skill set. Tram, your English skill set and the people you are going to TA will benefit a ton from your teaching. One of the basketball bros we played with was a rising senior in high school, and his English is very good. I compliment his English, and he says he appreciates it as it is very important this English is good since he seeks to become a businessman one day. To him, I say he’s a really funny guy and that he’ll definitely make it big in the business world.
After all these interactions, I can’t but just feel extremely privileged living the life I’ve had so far. I expected such differences such as these but to still hear about their experiences from them directly, it was still bit shocking and unsteady. It really puts in perspective how much freedom being a college student in the US is and how much opportunity we’ve already been given as native language speakers. I’m not ready to make conclusions on my current feelings yet, as I’ve still got so many questions yet to be answered. This just makes me even more eager to meet my roommate and simply learn.