Explore shimmering paddy fields, sugar-white beaches, full-tilt cities and venerable pagodas in Vietnam. While many visitors come for the intrigue in and excitement in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other major centers, it is the country's striking landscape that most impresses.

Languages Spoken:

Vietnamese

Education System

HIGHER EDUCATION

There are three types of higher education institutions in Vietnam. University, or Dai hoc, is a multidisciplinary school with research capabilities. Senior college, or truong Dai hoc, is an institution focused on one area of study. The third is an Institute, or Hoc vien, which is also focused on one area of study but also has specialized research capabilities. Vietnamese students must receive high scores on the entrance examination in order to attend a university. An average of 20% of one million students who take the exam pass. Vietnamese students can also enroll at junior (community) colleges, professional secondary schools, and vocational schools.

An Associate’s degree takes three years to achieve, while a Bachelor’s degree takes four to six years to finish. Most Vietnamese universities also offer two year Master’s programs.

ACADEMIC CALENDAR

The academic year is broken into two semesters. The first semester runs from late August through January, and the second semester runs from January through June.

TEACHING AND LEARNING STYLES

The teaching style is teacher-oriented, meaning mostly lectures with few class discussions. Students are expected to be self-disciplined and do a lot of reading/learning on their own.

COURSE LOAD, CONTACT HOURS, LEVELS

Students must enroll in a minimum of 12 credit points, approximately four courses, but no more than 24 credit points per semester. The typical student spends three hours in class per week. Each credit equates to approximately 15 hours of instruction. IU, VNU-HCMC uses a number grading system. A grade of 85-100 is Excellent, 50-55 is Average, and a 50 or below is a Failing grade

ASSESSMENT

Students’ knowledge and progress are assessed in three main forms. Class assignments, which may be individual or group-based, are worth 20-40% of the grade. The mid-term exam is worth 20-30% and the strongest factor, the final exam, is worth 40-60% of the overall grade. Mid-term and final exams may be oral or written tests.

Visa and Residency

If you're a US Student, you'll need to obtain a student visa from one of the following locations listed below.

1. Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
1233 20th Street N.W, Suite 400, Washington D.C.20036
Phone: +001-202-8610737
Fax: +001-202-8610917 ; 8611297
Email: consular@vietnamembassy.us

2. Consulate General of Vietnam in Houston
5251Westheimer Road, Suite 1100, Houston, Texas 77056
Phone: +001-713.850.1233; 7138771326; 7138400096
Fax: +001-713.871.0312; 7138100159
Email: vietnamesevisa@gmail.com

3. Consulate General of Vietnam in San Francisco
1700 California Street, Suite 580, San Francisco, CA 94109
Phone: +1-0415-922-1707
Fax: +1-0415-922-1848
Email: info@vietnamconsulate-sf.org


GENERAL REQUIREMENTS

  1. Acceptance letter from the host university in Vietnam
  2. Original Passport
    The passport needs to have at least 1 month validity prior the date of exit from Vietnam and/or 6 month validity to meet airlines’ requirements). You can request a loose-leaf visa, then a copy of your passport (photo and personal detail pages) may be submitted instead of the original passport.
  3. Visa Application Form
    The form must be completed, signed and attached with 1 original passport size photo (2x 2in) . In the case of a loose-leaf-visa request, 2 original passport sized photos must be stapled to the form. If the applicant has already got a visa approval, she/he may write the reference number on the top of the form. For anyone who comes to Vietnam for less than 3 months and does not have visa approval, just leave "visa approval number" blank and the Embassy will take care of it. (Additional processing fees for visa approval may be required.)
  4. Visa Fee
    The visa fee must be in the form of MONEY ORDER, CASHIER’S CHECK, or CERTIFIED CHECK payable to "THE EMBASSY OF VIETNAM." The fee is 25 US dollars for a one time student visa. Check the Vietnamese Consular website at vnconsular@vietnamembassy.us , or call 202 - 861 – 0737 for the most up-to-date visa cost information.
  5. A prepaid return envelope
    If the applicant requests the visa be returned by mail. Please use USPS - United States Postal Service (prepaid postage stamp envelope or return label bought online at www.usps.com ) or prepaid return FedEx label ( bought online at www.fedex.com - The Embassy does not accept credit cards for FedEx mailing service). For your documents’ safety, the Embassy advises to use USPS Express Mail or FedEx with the tracking numbers. For international shipping, please pay in the form of money order payable to the Embassy of Vietnam.

TIME FRAME

A Vietnamese student visa application can be submitted anytime from 6 months-3 months prior to departure. If the student visa application is submitted directly in person, processing will take approximately 7-10 business days. If the student visa application is NOT submitted directly in person, processing will take approximately 3 weeks.


FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT:
Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Culture

LANGUAGE AND RELIGION

Vietnamese is the official language of Vietnam. It is a tonal language with six different tones that can change the definition of any given word. Vietnamese uses the Roman alphabet and accent marks to indicate tone. Other languages spoken are Chinese, Khmer, Cham, and other tribal languages limited to the mountainous regions of the country. Religious identification is strong very strong in Vietnam. The predominant religion is Buddhism, which was introduced to the country under Chinese domination in the second century. The majority of Vietnamese people identify as Buddhists but not all actively participate in the religion. Two other religious sects, Cao Dai and Hoa Hoa, are also practiced in the south of the country, but have little influence on the culture. Vietnam has great religious tolerance and believes in peaceful coexistence among all religions.

CONFUCIANISM

Confucianism is a social philosophy that has had a strong influence on Vietnamese society and the role of the individual within that society. It advocates for harmony and happiness for the society as a whole. For this reason, individuals have a strong sense of group ethics and an obligation to others. Duty, loyalty, respect for elders, and honor are major tenets of this social philosophy.

RELIGION

Vietnamese religion is based on Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. Hao Hao, Christianity, Islam, and Coa Daism are also major religions in Vietnam. Religious identification is not clearly evident in Vietnamese culture. Vietnam is a very tolerant society of foreign religions.

CUSTOMS

Vietnamese are very polite and have a strict sense of public etiquette. Some things to keep in mind while in public include: avoid public displays of affection, do not stand with your hands on your hips or your arms crossed over your chest, do not point with your finger but with your hand, and do not show the sole of your foot when crossing your leg. Additionally, the head is believed to house a person’s spirit, so it is best to avoid touching or passing things over someone’s head. When invited to someone’s home it is proper to bring a gift of fruit, sweets, flowers or incense. Meals are served family-style and should be eaten slowly; it is considered impolite to finish a meal quickly.

CONCEPT OF FACE

The concept of "face" is an important concept in Vietnamese communication. "Face" is somewhat complex but relates to avoiding embarrassment. If someone responds in a way that doesn’t make sense to you, consider if that person was trying to save face. You can also give face by complimenting someone or making them look good. Vietnamese people will often tell you what they think you want to hear in an effort to make life better or easier for you. Understanding ways to lose face, save face, and give face will help you communicate effectively with Vietnamese.

COMMUNICATION STYLE

Vietnamese people usually greet each other by joining hands and bowing slightly. Hand shaking is acceptable between men, but almost never done between women or between a woman and a man. It is customary to address people formally, using Mr., Ms., or a title along with the person’s first name.

Communication is indirect and favors agreement and compromise. Listening closely to a person and avoiding eye contact is a way to show respect through communication. Try to avoid losing your temper in a conversation; it is seen as rude disrespectful to others. Expect Vietnamese people to ask questions about your personal life that you may not be accustomed to telling a stranger such as "how old are you," "are you married," or "how much money do you earn?" If you are uncomfortable in this scenario, use humor to politely avoid the question. Vietnamese people value humor and use it in a wide variety of situations when they are happy, sad, angry, embarrassed, puzzled, uneasy, shy, or grieving. The same theory about humor applies to the non-verbal communicative smile, which is also used frequently by Vietnamese to express a wide range of emotion.

SOCIAL STRUCTURE

Vietnamese families are tight-knit and include both the nuclear and extended relatives. It is common in rural Vietnam for three or four generations to be living in the same house. The social structure in Vietnam is modeled completely around family. Do not be offended if your Vietnamese friend fails to show up for a meeting you have scheduled with them. Family responsibilities take precedence over all other appointments and activities, expected or unexpected. Respect for elders is highly valued and plays an important role in society. You will often be asked how old you are because Vietnamese want to show you the proper respect according to your age.

FOOD

Vietnamese cuisine is simple yet flavorful. With fresh ingredients, many herbs, and minimal use of oils, this cuisine is considered one of the healthiest worldwide. Staple ingredients include vegetables, beef, chicken, rice, and noodles; for flavoring, fish sauce, soy sauce, rice, shrimp paste, lemongrass, and basil are commonly used. A popular Vietnamese dish is pho, which is a soup traditionally made with rice noodles, thin slices of beef, beef broth, beansprouts, and basil. Vietnamese dishes are usually colorful and arranged in an aesthetically-pleasing way in order to achieve a yin and yang balance, which is considered beneficial for the body. All dishes include the five fundamental tastes: spicy, sour, bitter, salty, and sweet. They also include five types of nutrients: powder, water or liquid, minerals, protein, and fat. It is important to have all five of these elements to achieve the right balance. Fruit shakes, sugarcane juice, che (a mixture of sugarcane juice, fruit, and milk), green tea, and coffee are popular beverages in Vietnam.

Daily Life

LANGUAGE AND RELIGION

Vietnamese is the official language of Vietnam. It is a tonal language with six different tones that can change the definition of any given word. Vietnamese uses the Roman alphabet and accent marks to indicate tone. Other languages spoken are Chinese, Khmer, Cham, and other tribal languages limited to the mountainous regions of the country. Religious identification is strong very strong in Vietnam. The predominant religion is Buddhism, which was introduced to the country under Chinese domination in the second century. The majority of Vietnamese people identify as Buddhists but not all actively participate in the religion. Two other religious sects, Cao Dai and Hoa Hoa, are also practiced in the south of the country, but have little influence on the culture. Vietnam has great religious tolerance and believes in peaceful coexistence among all religions.

CONFUCIANISM

Confucianism is a social philosophy that has had a strong influence on Vietnamese society and the role of the individual within that society. It advocates for harmony and happiness for the society as a whole. For this reason, individuals have a strong sense of group ethics and an obligation to others. Duty, loyalty, respect for elders, and honor are major tenets of this social philosophy.

RELIGION

Vietnamese religion is based on Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. Hao Hao, Christianity, Islam, and Coa Daism are also major religions in Vietnam. Religious identification is not clearly evident in Vietnamese culture. Vietnam is a very tolerant society of foreign religions.

CUSTOMS

Vietnamese are very polite and have a strict sense of public etiquette. Some things to keep in mind while in public include: avoid public displays of affection, do not stand with your hands on your hips or your arms crossed over your chest, do not point with your finger but with your hand, and do not show the sole of your foot when crossing your leg. Additionally, the head is believed to house a person’s spirit, so it is best to avoid touching or passing things over someone’s head. When invited to someone’s home it is proper to bring a gift of fruit, sweets, flowers or incense. Meals are served family-style and should be eaten slowly; it is considered impolite to finish a meal quickly.

CONCEPT OF FACE

The concept of "face" is an important concept in Vietnamese communication. "Face" is somewhat complex but relates to avoiding embarrassment. If someone responds in a way that doesn’t make sense to you, consider if that person was trying to save face. You can also give face by complimenting someone or making them look good. Vietnamese people will often tell you what they think you want to hear in an effort to make life better or easier for you. Understanding ways to lose face, save face, and give face will help you communicate effectively with Vietnamese.

COMMUNICATION STYLE

Vietnamese people usually greet each other by joining hands and bowing slightly. Hand shaking is acceptable between men, but almost never done between women or between a woman and a man. It is customary to address people formally, using Mr., Ms., or a title along with the person’s first name.

Communication is indirect and favors agreement and compromise. Listening closely to a person and avoiding eye contact is a way to show respect through communication. Try to avoid losing your temper in a conversation; it is seen as rude disrespectful to others. Expect Vietnamese people to ask questions about your personal life that you may not be accustomed to telling a stranger such as "how old are you," "are you married," or "how much money do you earn?" If you are uncomfortable in this scenario, use humor to politely avoid the question. Vietnamese people value humor and use it in a wide variety of situations when they are happy, sad, angry, embarrassed, puzzled, uneasy, shy, or grieving. The same theory about humor applies to the non-verbal communicative smile, which is also used frequently by Vietnamese to express a wide range of emotion.

SOCIAL STRUCTURE

Vietnamese families are tight-knit and include both the nuclear and extended relatives. It is common in rural Vietnam for three or four generations to be living in the same house. The social structure in Vietnam is modeled completely around family. Do not be offended if your Vietnamese friend fails to show up for a meeting you have scheduled with them. Family responsibilities take precedence over all other appointments and activities, expected or unexpected. Respect for elders is highly valued and plays an important role in society. You will often be asked how old you are because Vietnamese want to show you the proper respect according to your age.

FOOD

Vietnamese cuisine is simple yet flavorful. With fresh ingredients, many herbs, and minimal use of oils, this cuisine is considered one of the healthiest worldwide. Staple ingredients include vegetables, beef, chicken, rice, and noodles; for flavoring, fish sauce, soy sauce, rice, shrimp paste, lemongrass, and basil are commonly used. A popular Vietnamese dish is pho, which is a soup traditionally made with rice noodles, thin slices of beef, beef broth, beansprouts, and basil. Vietnamese dishes are usually colorful and arranged in an aesthetically-pleasing way in order to achieve a yin and yang balance, which is considered beneficial for the body. All dishes include the five fundamental tastes: spicy, sour, bitter, salty, and sweet. They also include five types of nutrients: powder, water or liquid, minerals, protein, and fat. It is important to have all five of these elements to achieve the right balance. Fruit shakes, sugarcane juice, che (a mixture of sugarcane juice, fruit, and milk), green tea, and coffee are popular beverages in Vietnam.

Health and Safety

https://www.isepstudyabroad.org/guides-and-tips/health-safety

Currency

CURRENCY & CONVERSION

The official currency is the Vietnam Dong (represented by the symbol "d"), but the U.S. dollar is also widely accepted. In tourist centers, most hotels will accept either, while other businesses may prefer dong. Banknotes come in denominations of 500d, 1000d, 2000d, 10,000d, 20,000d, 50,000d, 100,000d, 200,000d, and 500,000d. Coins are also available, although less common, in denominations of 500d, 1,000d, and 5,000d. The U.S. dollar is very strong against the Vietnamese dong so you will find prices for a variety of products and services to be cheap compared to Western standards.

You can change money at banks, authorized exchange bureaus and in hotels. Major hotels in the bigger cities act as agents for banks and offer the same rate as them. Smaller private hotels will charge a service fee. See Xe.com for the current exchange rate.

BANKING & ATMS

In the larger cities, ATMs are easy to find. Vietcombank has the best network in the country, including most of the major tourist destinations and all the big cities. Agribank, Vietin Bank and Sacombank are also well represented. Withdrawals are issued in dong, and there is a single withdrawal limit between 2,000,000d-4,000,000d per transaction. Most banks charge 20,000d ($1 US dollar) per transaction.

PAYING

In the larger cities, Visa and Mastercard are accepted everywhere. Some places in larger cities accept American Express, but not all. Discover is not accepted at any location in Vietnam. A 3% commission charge on credit card transactions is common. When traveling to rural areas of Vietnam, make sure you have plenty of cash as credit cards may not be accepted and you may not be able to find an ATM. Traveler’s checks must be in U.S. dollar amounts. They are accepted at major tourist hotels, but not in most shops. It is not advised to rely on traveler’s checks.

COST OF LIVING

Vietnam is relatively inexpensive, although not as cheap as it used to be. It is a growing tourist destination and has experienced rampant inflation. Depending on your tastes, it is possible to live on as little as US $15/day. Eating at street stalls and markets can cost as little as US $1 or less. Local restaurants will range from US $2 to $50. As a foreigner, you will often be overcharged, especially when buying souvenirs. Good-natured bargaining is common in many markets and smaller shops. It might be possible to get anywhere from 10 to 50% off of the original cost. Once the money is accepted, do not attempt to bring the price down any more.

TIPPING

Tipping is not expected, but greatly appreciated. Even a small tip of US $1 can go a long way in Vietnam. It is recommended to tip drivers and guides, as well as hotel cleaning staff. Some nicer hotels and restaurants add a 5% service charge to the bill, but that extra money does not go to the staff. When visiting a pagoda, it is proper to make a small donation.

Sources of Information

RESOURCES

TRAVEL GUIDES

  • Fodor's See it Vietnam
  • Frommer's Vietnam

LITERATURE

Vietnam: A Traveler’s Literary Companion

CULTURE, HISTORY, POLITICS

  • Vietnam Today, A Guide To A Nation At A Crossroads
  • Vietnam: Journeys of Body, Mind, and Spirit

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