“Life in Vietnam is starting to feel routine as I settle into the typical life of a student here. I ride my used bike to class and park in the bike lot. I get coffee (cà phê sữa đá) or a smoothie nearly every day at Thuy Moc Cafe across from campus. I eat lots of street food. More often than not, I still find myself procrastinating on my homework.
But there is something distinctly different about how Vietnamese society operates that can make this place seem very far from home. While American culture prides itself on individualism, Vietnam is one of the most collectivist cultures I’ve experienced–it can be seen indirectly through strong nationalist pride and community-based living and experienced directly in how people operate in their day-to-day lives.