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Week 11 – HCMC, Vietnam – Hanoi, Vietnam

What’s up, everyone?!

We hope that this week you learn some essential information on how you can adjust and adapt to a new culture and your own culture when you return home. If you look up the definition of “reverse culture shock” on google this is what you will find: “The shock suffered by some people when they return home after some years overseas. This can result in unexpected difficulty in readjusting to the culture and values of the home country, now that the previously familiar has become unfamiliar”. Although this definition states this can occur after some year’s reverse culture shock can happen after a few months. The experience depends entirely on the person, location and how much they immersed themselves while overseas. We wanted to share some information this week on what to expect from reverse culture shock, before getting into our experiences from the project this week.


An illustration from our pre-departure presentation

Although everyone’s experience is different, for the most part, these are the stages of reverse culture shock:

Disengagement: This can (and usually) happens before your departure. Essentially what this is, is that you start to feel upset that you’re saying goodbye to all the friends you have made in the place you were. Also, you may make it so that your last few days go by very fast and stay busy so that you do not have time to reflect on your emotions and experiences.
Initial excitement: This typically occurs before your departure. This feeling is similar to when you were preparing for your initial trip to the Country you were visiting. You get excited to return and see your friends and family. During this phase, you might also realize that most people are not as fascinated with your experiences as you wanted them to be. They will listen to your stories but notice they are ready to continue to the next topic of conversation.
Irritability & hostility: At this point, you might feel frustrated, lonely, alienated and may not fully be able to understand why you feel this way. You may find you get irritated quickly and even become critical of others.
Readjustment and adaptation: Gradually you will feel readjusted to life at home. Although you might not fully feel like yourself yet at this point most things will feel normal again and you will fall back into some old routines. BUT things won’t be the same as how you left them – and this is important to remember. You will feel different once you’re adjusted, you may have new attitudes, beliefs, and perspective.

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change” – Stephen Hawking

Next week we plan to include a section with some personal experiences while we go through our journey of reverse culture shock but more importantly some suggestions on how to deal with it healthily.

So! The conclusion of this week’s engagement and presentations was excellent overall. We’ve loved working with everyone in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, Vietnam. We had an excellent performance at TMS Education Agency, Hanoi. The staff from TMS took us for a traditional Vietnamese meal that was delicious. One of our favourite plates was the sticky mango rice. The dinner was great because not only did we learn more about Vietnam we also had time to share knowledge about Georgian College, Barrie, and Canada. During our time in Hanoi, we also went to an agency fair and had a large segment during IDP’s pre-departure presentation to speak with many students and parents. The questions during the pre-departure presentation at IDP were fantastic, and we made a great connection with everyone there.


Dinner with the TMS staff, Hanoi

We ended our week visiting a tourist destination called Halong Bay during our few days off. Halong Bay is a beautiful area in Northern Vietnam that has emerald water with limestone pillars. It’s surrounded by tiny islands and picturesque forests. The region has many grottoes and is a designated World Heritage site since 1994. We spent our two days there with a nice couple from Minnesota and a lovely family from Korea. One activity we loved was learning how to make traditional Vietnamese spring rolls.


Halong Bay

Week 12 will feature some our personal experiences of what it’s like to return home after living in an entirely different culture. Below are some pictures of all of our adventures this week!


Halong Bay


Traditional Vietnamese Pho


Presentation @ TMS, Hanoi


Halong Bay


Caves, Halong Bay



Agency Fair, Hanoi


TMS Presentation, Hanoi


Floating Village, Halong Bay


Jelly Fish! Halong Bay


Halong Bay


Halong Bay


Presentation at IDP agency, Hanoi


Agency Fair, Hanoi


Presentation at IDP agency, Hanoi


Mango sticky rice (on the right) Hanoi, Vietnam


Floating Village, Halong Bay


Halong Bay


Halong Bay


Halong Bay


TMS agency, Hanoi


Learning how to make Vietnamese spring rolls


Presentation at IDP agency, Hanoi




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