entry2: about our (vn) roommates!


// dorming @ CET

Time to tell y’all about a bit about living situations & dorming in VN. Context!: This Spring, the CET program has 6 students from the US, and each of us are paired up as roommates with with a Vietnamese student going to college/university here in Ho Chi Minh City. The number of US students in the CET program usually floats around 10, so we’re a bit smaller this year.

CET’s got a really cool and helpful model for study abroad, pairing us up with Vietnamese college students while we’re here. I’m super grateful to have our roommates by our side, because it ends up becoming not only a supportive model for us as students new to this area, but an immersive one as well, especially for someone like me who identifies as Vietnamese-American. We get to learn about lifestyles and perspectives of Vietnamese students our age, and they also get to learn about our perspectives on those same topics as students from the US.

// on another note: [a thing that’s] surprising?? but at the same time not?? lol lemme explain

The common language spoken between the US and Viet students is usually English, and looking back now, I’m realizing I shouldn’t have been so surprised. I kind of knew that students in Ho Chi Minh City begin to take foreign language classes at very young ages, some starting their foreign language classes at the same time that regular schooling begins. So it makes sense that we’d be speaking to each other mostly in English and not trying to get thoughts across in a broken form of Vietnamese. But anyways, I’m saying that I shouldn’t have been surprised at all. It was my own expectation that having Vietnamese roommates would be the chance to practice my Vietnamese. I mean, it was one of my main reasons for coming to Vietnam. I wanted to gain some level of fluency, be able to better communicate with my family, and maybe learn to read and write without struggling way too much.

On the other hand, for non-heritage students, that I found that practicing Vietnamese wasn’t at all the priority. Instead, our roommates have been more of cultural ambassadors and tour guides [to an extent]. Honestly, in the beginning, I had an inner conflict thinking about the fact that we were essentially using our roommates to get a better lay of land and a better cultural context. Our roommates facilitated group dinners, helped us run errands, and took so much of their own time to explain lingual and cultural nuances of Saigon/Vietnam that we couldn’t understand. But, I realized later, with the rationale of another friend on the program, that this explanation of cultural nuances wasn’t just one sided. While us US students were explaining our confusion and our roommates were explaining things to us and giving us context, we were doing the same to an extent. I guess you can call it a cultural exchange(?). Ah, I don’t know, but I don’t think about it as much now a few weeks in. I guess it’s partly because I’ve become more independent, but also partly just because I’ve gotten used to it. Either way, I’m grateful //

// anyway, thas all for now!

thanks for reading and spending time with my thoughts — catch ya on the next!

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