The trip was a success even though the corona pandemic caused inconveniences on the way, but exceptional circumstances can be educational in unpredicted ways. I gained a lot of insights from the school work as the topics were addressing timely problems in Vietnam. Working in teams with the school projects thought me local organization culture and intercultural communication. Working with people was the most rewarding part. I witnessed and understood how technically talented Vietnamese people can be. My Vietnamese language vocabulary expanded especially in the fields of engineering and IT.
I arrived in Vietnam 2 weeks prior to the starting date of my studies. Now was time of the Lunar New Year which is the greatest celebration day in Vietnam when all the people heads to their old home towns to spend this time with their families. My first destination was my mother-in-law’s home in a small town in Ben Tre province where practically no one speaks English. During this time, I learned how I was expected to speak with people in relation to their and my position since the hierarchy of people in family and in society is highly absent in the spoken language.
The semester was scheduled to start in February but eventually it was announced to start in April as online lectures. With the academic executive of international study programs, we came to a solution where I would complete two courses which were planned to carry out almost solely as an independent project work, so the absence of lectures should not affect them that much. The water project, “Design a water desalination plant for Ben Tre province”, was especially interesting since I have personal experiences from the target area. I have seen how the people there collect rain water during the rain season and drink it and use it during the dry season. During dry seasons in the Mekong Delta region salt water intrusion contaminates the freshwater aquifers. This year Ben Tre province declared an environmental emergency due to the degree of the intrusion. The air pollution control project was also related to water treatment since our projects pollution source were odors from a municipal WWTP. With odor control, comparing a chemical treatment with a biological one is a multifaceted set-up without a clear one-size-fits-all solution since it can be a matter of which side the priorization is leaning, mitigating costs or environmental impacts.
I don't mind the challenges the corona pandemic had to brought, it is quite the opposite since I saw it as an opportunity to break routines and foster creativity. Im happy for all the networks, both personal and professional, I was able to create during my trip. Operating environment in Vietnam cannot be learnt solely by reading books, but now thanks for this trip, I am more prepared and confident for my future endeavours towards Vietnam.