Communism, eastern politics, socialism working with market liberalism, Asian culture, eastern education, respectful and inspirational students, a landscape beyond imagination; and so much more all put together to make a beautiful country and open a young western man’s eyes to reality and the world he is living in. This was my first time going to Asia and traveling out of the western world, although I have travelled to far out places such as Morocco and Iceland, I could not comprehend the experience that waited in Hanoi.
Before traveling to Hanoi I was prepared for a culture shock, I knew that I was going to be far from home and out of my comfort zone but it was nothing that I couldn’t handle; my main worry about traveling there was the 14-hour flight! I hate flying! When we arrived at the airport 3 students from the university welcomed us and I have never felt so welcomed before, from a stranger, they were so genuine and interested in us, which in turn made me genuine and interested in them. I found that staying at the University of Hanoi was very useful as it gave me a view of the country from a student perspective, instead of a tourist or first-time visitor. I learned much more staying at the university as there were resources there which added to our experience. The trip was based on learning in an international environment, I just assumed before going that we would be learning in the classroom, but the majority/ key learning experience I got was outside the class room. From learning outside of the classroom I got an experience which I cannot compare to anything; because I was learning through listening, seeing and feeling I got a type of education that I have never had before, gave me an energy inside me which opened my thoughts. Seeing historical monuments, going to cultural places and visiting sacred places was all part of the learning experience as well as it being part of the experience of visiting the country, the two were put together naturally which made the whole time I was there unique.
I could write and write about my trip to Hanoi and how much fun I had and what an amazing experience it was, but reflecting on the trip I have learned so much and gained so much from Hanoi. I have always been a grateful person and I recognize how lucky I am to have a healthy life, a full family, a home, a school; which made me feel grateful for my life after visiting Hanoi. Although what I had taken away was the feeling and energy to do something, I recognized that I am a human on this earth which is in a very good position, but I need to make the most of that. I have always been motivated to make the most of my life, but I am fully engaged now with perusing my craziest dreams and leaving my mark on this earth because I have recognized that I have the ability to do so, unlike some people on this earth which I have seen in Hanoi. Not only have my eyes been opened to the real world at a new level and perspective my heart and mind have been convinced to work together to achieve the best for me and others.
By Jake Sampson