Visiting Vietnam: Reflections on myself

Rachel D., Michigan State University, '16

March 19, 2013

Last time I blogged, I said I didn't know why I was studying in Vietnam, besides for the purpose of learning. I was not sure what the next four days had in store.

In hindsight, it makes sense that I stayed those extra days. On my last night in Hanoi, my dad said to me, "you must still have things to learn." He was right. But at that point, I think I mopped up (most of) what I was supposed to get out of the trip. Which are two separate things.

The first one I learned at a farm on the outskirts of Hue. It is the concept of sustainability. It took "reduce and reuse" to a personal level because these families would use their animal compost to function their kitchen. It cut out the middle man. It was a simple cycle. And that kind of simplicity is a natural and efficient way of living.

The second part came from a more personal level, more of a self-analyzation process. You see, being put in a new culture, and with a new group of individuals, I could be whomever I wanted to be. For someone who is stuck in lots of self fulfilling prophecies, this new atmosphere did wonders because it made me realize that maybe there is power in not having expectations. Expectations for your trip, for your group, and for yourself. I think that is what makes life and experiences interesting, not knowing what is going to happen next.  

Being surround by a completely new environment, and learning completely new things, makes me feel new. Not new as in completely different, but new as in a refreshed version of myself. And honestly, a refreshing change is exactly what I needed in the midst of stagnation.

Rachel and her classmates studied in Vietnam March 2 to 10, 2013 as a part of a Michigan State University class on emerging issues and sustainability in international agriculture.

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