International Insights Past Review

By (English/WSGS, Loyola University Chicago) - abroad from 08/26/2013 to 12/05/2013 with

Loyola University Chicago: Ho Chi Minh City - Study Abroad Vietnam Center

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained much insight into my personal identity as an American, as ironic as that may be. I learned about the impacts of the globalized economy, spearheaded by American politics. I also learned much in the way of patience. Not everything moves as quickly as the American mentality wishes it would. There is not a day that goes by where I am not grateful for mu opportunity to have gone abroad to this country.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Courses were not "difficult" in the traditional sense. However, we were exposed to many aspects of Vietnamese culture/history/international relations in our courses which ultimately enriched the overall study abroad experience.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Living in a Vietnamese dorm was probably one of my favorite aspects of this program. I felt like I was getting a more "authentic" experience while abroad by living like a Vietnamese university student.

* Food:

This country has the best food I've literally ever had in my entire life. Even better, you can purchase an entire meal for about one USD.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Totally integrated. By living in a Vietnamese dorm, away from the city center, we were living among "regular" Vietnamese people going about their daily lives.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Personally, I did not experience any health problems while abroad. But there is an international health center that is rather accessible to students in this program.

* Safety:

I ultimately felt more safe in HCMC than I do on an average day in Chicago. However, as someone who is clearly a foreigner, I was cautious about keeping my possessions safe as petty theft is a common crime.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

On average, you could expect to spend about 5 dollars a day on food. During my entire semester there I spent less than $1,000 on shopping, additional travel around the region, going out on weekends, and food. Living in the dorm is also about 1/3 of the cost of living in a dorm in Chicago for a semester.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? about 5 dollars
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Actually, my advice would be to not hesitate to spend money on things you would not normally spend it on. Since the conversation rate is in our favor, you might as well experience as much as you possibly can.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

I took the intensive course (6 credit hours) and our Vietnamese partners, as well as other professors and program staff, always asked how my Vietnamese was coming along. You pick up the language quickly once you start to order food on your own.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? N/A
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Just going for it once you start learning some phrases is really the best way to practice it.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Cultural immersion
  • Travel opportunities
  • Living in the city
* What could be improved?
  • n/a
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? As hard as this may be to express: I wish I knew just how unexpected this entire experience was going to be. However, it is because of that very unexpectedness that I wanted to go on this journey in the first place.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.