So from the first days at work, I have mentioned that I will be travelling back to Vietnam for New Year holidays and Jane Gordon, our University’s Regional Manager in South East Asia, thought it would be a great idea if I could join some Education Fairs over there. How did it sound to me? Of course I could sense such an amazing opportunity right there!
And it was quickly sorted after I confirmed the time and my plan over the holidays. With the help from Hoa Pham, the University’s International Development Advisor based in Vietnam, Jane quickly signed me up for the British Council Vietnam’s International School Roadshow, the Vietint Fair and several seminars at some of our contracted agents in Vietnam for the week from the 11th Jan to the 17th Jan 2016. It might sound quite packed, but I was too excited about the opportunity to care about anything else.
Because I was going to fly back to Vietnam on the 27th of December 2015, Jane decided to give me a bit of basic information and some training of what I will be supposed to do as one of the University’s representatives. Together we went through the schedule, a list of frequently asked questions and the presentation about my student life and placement experience in the UK that I was going to do at the seminars. Jane also wanted me to redesign the A5 Country sheets for Vietnam and take it with me to the events, along with some of the University’s brochures and guideline booklets.
So in the early morning of Monday the 11th of January, just a day after I came back from my trip to South Korea, I took the flight from Hanoi Noi Bai Airport to Ho Chi Minh City after having a bowl of ‘Pho’ ( was not a good idea. TIP: NEVER try ‘Pho’ at Noi Bai Airport, it was just so expensive and tasted just like instant noodle!). Anyway, it was actually my first time visiting Ho Chi Minh City so I was able to stay positive about everything, even the delayed flight with an annoying little girl that kept yelling and jumping for 2 hours straight!
Ho Chi Minh greeted me with a hot and humid weather. It felt quite hard at first as I just spent my previous week in Seoul with the coldness of -7 and -8 degree. So after finally grabbing my luggage, I quickly run to a taxi to get to the hotel which was 30 minutes away (the taxi company charged me 220,000 VND which I later found out was doubled the price of other companies!!!!)
I was booked to stay at Bong Sen Hotel, on Dong Khoi Street of District 1 which is known as a popular shopping street with various attractions nearby. I really enjoyed the stay there, especially their breakfast buffet with lots of traditional Vietnamese food!
After arriving at the hotel and spending some time quickly arranging my stuffs, I walked to Bene coffee which was just 2 minutes away to meet Hoa and finalise the presentation I was going to give at ISC-UKEAS later that day. It didn’t take too long since I had a Skype conversation with Hoa previously when I was still in the UK. We then got going at 4pm for the seminar at 4.30pm.
I was actually a bit nervous as it was my first time doing something like this, and being a ‘University’s representative’ sounds quite scary but the seminar was really great and surprisingly I very much enjoyed it! I got such a good time talking to Carl Owen, the Country Manager and some counsellors at ISC-UKEAS as well as some parents and students who wanted to pursuit their higher education at a UK University. They were all really nice that made me feel much more comfortable. There was even a lady who kept telling me she wished her daughter could be as ‘confident and outgoing’ as I was. I found it quite interesting as I could never image using those two words to describe myself of three years ago, before I went to the UK, or even now. But at least I was able to act like I was confident, so I still considered it as a small success! 🙂
As the seminar ended at 6pm, we decided to leave our stuffs at the hotel and then walked to a restaurant nearby for dinner. We walked past the famous walking street called Nguyen Hue street which was already beautifully decorated for the traditional New Year (Tet :)), Ho Chi Minh City Hall and the Bitexco Financial Tower. Hoa did a great job as a tourist guide with the detailed information and her amazing photography skill!
We decided to have dinner at a restaurant called La Rotonde which was somewhat reminiscent of an old French plantation house. The night view was amazing and they do a brilliant Blueberry Mojito here.
We walked back to the hotel around 9pm; the temperature has considerably cooled down so it was such a great experience. It was then time to say goodbye to Hoa to get some rest and prepare for a busy day at the International Schools Roadshow tomorrow.
I was a bit out of topic, wasn’t I?
– Quy Nguyen –