Study Abroad

Welcome to Da Nang

January 05, 2018

First meal at the hotel in DaNang

Arrival in Da Nang

Paul Boutiette

  My name is Paul Boutiette and I am a senior at Lasell College. I am a sport management major with a minor in psychology. I decided to apply to the shoulder to shoulder program to explore a culture much different than our own and help children that are in pursuit of learning the English language.    We arrived to Da Nang yesterday. Within two days, I have realized that Da Nang doesn't share many similarities with the United States. We left 0 degree temperatures in Boston to find it being in the mid 70's everyday here.

traffic

A major difference between Da Nang and cities in the U.S. is the way people drive. The flow of traffic is quick and hazardous to those driving and walking. While you still do see a few cars and trucks, most people drive mopeds. Traffic rarely comes to a halt which makes crossing the street challenging. After watching the locals, we have realized the best strategy is to walk at the same pace during a break in heavy traffic and oncoming moped drivers we simply swerve around you. It is a fast pace environment that doesn't stop, sun up to sun down.  

On our first day here, we recovered from jet-lag, ate, and explored the city. The local food consists of mainly of noodles, vegetables, and meats. Da Nang city is very crowded with shops and food cart, but also has beautiful sights including the Da Nang cathedral, which is right across the street from our hotel.   On our second day here, we went the SOS Village for an orientation. At the orientation, we met the director and assistant director who gave us an understanding of what they do and a tour of the village. The SOS village consists of houses for all the children and a school that they attend. It is similar to a small college campus. We are all eager for Saturday to come so that we can meet the children and get started with our work at the village!     

touring the village

Lane Sulzer  

As someone who has not travelled farther than the Caribbean, I have been surprised by some of the differences between the United States and Da Nang. My name is Lane Sulzer and I am studying Sport Management at Lasell College with many interests outside of the world of sports. One of my many interests is food. I have been vegan for a year and a half and while traveling to Vietnam, I anticipated coming across several issues with my lifestyle. Quickly I realized how different the culture's cuisine is from the United States. Many of the popular food dishes in Da Nang are centered around animal products such as pho, a beef soup. To my surprise, even the Vietnamese coffee that I drank several cups of during breakfast this morning had butter in it. Because I have not had many of these animal products over the past year and a half, my accidental consumption of the animal foods has upset my stomach. Thankfully, Professor Tran has been very helpful in accommodating my lifestyle with the food we have been ordering. My favorite meal so far was on the second evening when we ate at a Pho restaurant and Professor Tran ordered me vegetables and homemade noodles. I scarfed down the meal and even ate one of the spicy peppers that I needed to cool down with using bean sprouts.  

Lane's photo         Lane's photo 2

I have taken three small walking trips through the streets of Da Nang without someone who speaks Vietnamese. From my several, small interactions with the locals, I have developed a new-found respect for people who do not speak English in the United States. Attempting to understand a language that I have such little background in is nearly impossible. I am lucky if any of the shop owners speak several words in English and nearly all the conversation is done using confusing hand gestures and typing numbers as prices into phones. Fortunately, the conversion of Dong to Dollars is relatively simple and can be estimated or solved fast.   Overall, my initial impressions of Da Nang have been positive and fun. The sights are beautiful, and the locals are incredibly kind and friendly. Everyone smiles at each other and is not solely focused on their electronics. One of the shop owners even helped me in making a purchase at his store today and gave me a discount too. Over the next few days, I expect to immerse myself in more conversations and develop a better sense of how to interact with people who do not speak English. Being a part of the minority group in Da Nang has given me a much better idea of the struggles that many people face in the United States and the importance of patience with all people.        

Photos - first meal in Da Nang, Traffic, Touring the SOS Children's Village, food photos courtesy of Lane.

Stay tuned for further adventures.