Motorbikes, $1 Coffee, and the best semester ever! August 07, 2020

By (Saint Joseph's University) - abroad from 08/21/2019 to 12/09/2019 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My semester abroad widened my previously Western perspective on social, political, and economic development. Through visits to historical sites and immersion in conversations with locals, I was able to learn so much about Vietnam and Asia. I furthered my own independence and traveled to multiple different cities within Vietnam, as well as other countries. I will forever cherish my time abroad, and cannot wait to return.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The professors were great as they worked to integrate classroom discussion into cultural immersion. We went on field trips to historical sites and could also apply things we learned in lecture in our everyday lives in Vietnam. They were understanding in lightening the rigor as an abroad program, to allow us the time to truly become immersed in the host country.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The staff were phenomenal! All of them were super friendly, professional, and also helpful whether it was a simple question of a food recommendation or more logistical matters. Their passion for helping us navigate our time abroad really enhanced my experience.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We lived on the top floor of a Vietnamese University Dorm. This was awesome not only for the views, but also the chance to play sports or participate in local university clubs. We also had a plethora of food options outside, but since we weren't in the downtown tourist area, it was even more affordable options. We also had the Co-Op supermarket right next door, which was very convenient. Finally, each room had it's own washer, A/C, and we had a big common room to socialize or do work in.

* Food:

SOME OF THE BEST FOOD (AND CHEAPEST) I HAVE EVER EATEN. So so many options from traditional pho to so many foods I hadn't even known existed! All are super cheap, many under $1!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I participated in service-learning to tutor locals in English, and also became very close with Vietnamese university student ambassadors through the partner program. These really helped me make close friends and helped me learn more about Vietnamese culture!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I followed recommendations before leaving, but had no issues with health while abroad.

* Safety:

I never felt like my safety was compromised, and our dorm had a gate monitor that you had to scan your ID in to enter.

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)

5! Personal travel, food, and souvenirs/ "treating yourself" is all super super cheap!

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? track what you spend, bc it can be easy to think "Oh it's only $1" the entire time, but it can add up


* 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 Vietnamese 101, and there was an option for the intensive Vietnamese course. I have a basic proficiency, but you can also get by without knowing the language.

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? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? none
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? talk with partners!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* 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?
  • inexpensive cost of living/ food
  • small and close-knit program size
  • flexibility of travel
* What could be improved?
  • group excursion details
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? It's even better than it looks- GO!

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.