Studying Abroad in Hoi An, Vietnam

Study Abroad |
Colorful lanterns in the streets of Hoi An Vietnam at night

Glowing lanterns of all colours at night. Noodle soup, pancakes and baguette stuffed with salad, sauces, meat or tofu at every corner. Reading and cooling down at the beach while the hot humid air is pressing you down. That’s what it’s like to study abroad in Hoi An, Vietnam. But of course, there is more to this, and in this blog post I’m going to tell you all about my study abroad experience in Hoi An.

Why I decided to Study Abroad in Southeast Asia

After almost finishing my Bachelor of Social Anthropology and handing in my Bachelor’s Thesis, and before starting my Master program, I decided to take yet another catventure abroad.

I spent about 11 months in Blackpool, England, as a high school year abroad when I was 16. After graduating from high school, I lived in Tukuyu, Tanzania, for 10 months to do a voluntary service working as a teacher in a kindergarten. Two years ago, I spent one semester abroad in Cusco, Peru.

Studying abroad is always a great opportunity to travel, get to know to a country with its culture and people more deeply and gain some unique and specific academic knowledge at the same time. It is also a great and safe way to travel solo (especially if you travel solo as a female).

So this time, I wanted to study abroad in Southeast Asia, since it is also the region, on which I specialised during my Bachelor program. I found a Development Studies program (economic, political, cultural, etc. development) in Vietnam organised by Kulturstudier in a cooperation with the Norwegian university OsloMet and the University of Da Nang. Since both the country and the studies highly interested me, it was clear to me that I wanted to do this program.

The Lectures and the Readings

River close to the Katu villages in the jungle in VietnamSo here I am. Every Monday to Friday, we have lectures from 8.30 to 10.30/11 am, and for every lecture there are set texts (about 20 – 50 pages per day) to read. Even though I was already used to reading from my former studies, this seems a lot to me sometimes. But you get used to it very quickly and the readings are super interesting!

The only thing that upsets me a little bit is that attendance at the lectures is mandatory. I’m not used to having mandatory attendance and I’m an advocate of free choice. I would like to choose for myself which topics interest me the most and have more time to do further reading on them, as opposed to sitting in a lecture that doesn’t particularly interest me for two hours, wondering what I’m even doing there. But of course I understand that there are a lot of people using study programs abroad solely to party and hang out at the beach, so mandatory attendance probably helps preventing that.

How I live in my Semester Abroad in Hoi An, Vietnam

Decoration of typical Asian conical hats in Hoi An VietnamMoreover, I am sharing a big and quite luxurious house (which I find a bit questionable) with six fellow students.

Almost all of the other students are Norwegian (plus four Swedes and six Vietnamese). They are all super nice but sometimes I feel left out when they speak Norwegian at the tables at the included breakfast or lunch, or when they only use Norwegian in the Facebook group chat. Many of them make an effort to speak English, though. Most of the students are also quite young, having just finished high school and not having any university experience. Kulturstudier makes sure to offer lots of help with writing the paper and university life to these students.

My house mates are super nice but sometimes there are a bit loud when they come back from partying in the middle of the night (even on lecture days). Since I have very light sleep, that disturbs me a bit … Oh well, there’s always something when sharing houses or flats!

What I do in my Free Time in Hoi An, Vietnam

Beautiful sunset at the beach in Hoi An VietnamAfter lectures, optional extra lectures, field trips and readings, there is still plenty of free time. In this time, I like to hang out at the beach or in cafés, do more academic or fictional reading, learn languages, take bike tours, do some creative writing or simply enjoy the fact that there’s so much free time that I don’t have to feel bad for watching a lot of YouTube videos! Additionally, the local people here are incredibly friendly, so it’s always nice to stop for a chat and get to know to them.

On the weekend, we like to go on trips to nearby sites and cities, and during the week we organise movie nights, meetups and sports activities like football (soccer) and volleyball. There are also other sport opportunities in the city like yoga or acrobatics. Furthermore, Kulturstudier offers volunteer opportunities in a language school, a kindergarten or a Hoi An river clean up every now and then.

Structure and Exams of my Study Abroad Program in Hoi An, Vietnam

Beautiful rice fields in Hoi An VietnamI’m in week 4 now, and there’s 6 more weeks to go. Time goes by rapidly and the program is quite short. In week 9 and 10, we have to write a paper of 10800 words in groups of 4-5 people, which accounts for 40% of the grade. I really happy with the 4 other people I found, since we are all interested in similar topics and quite committed to the course. And they’re super awesome!

After week 10, we have two weeks to write an individual paper of 4400 words on one of three questions that they’re going to give to us. And then that’ll already be the end of the program. Short and intense. And it’s worth 30 ECTS, which I’m definitely going to use to substitute some of my not-so-good computer science elective courses.

After the Study Abroad Program in Hoi An, Vietnam …

Even though I will probably be a bit sad that the program is already over, I’m super exited for my mum and my sister with her 1-year-old daughter to come visit me in Vietnam in the middle of November after the course. I can’t wait to show them around in this beautiful country full of amazingly friendly people!

Until then, more blog posts about my study abroad experience in Vietnam are going to follow. Feel free to ask me anything!