Vietnam exchange program: awakening endless possibilities

Ever wondered what a study tour is like? Simran Prasad writes about their trip to Vietnam with Western Sydney University....
Visit to The Sentry in Ho Chi Minh City. Credit: Simran Prasad

As university students, we often hear that our time at university is an opportunity to grow personally and professionally. But what does that really mean? As a student at Western Sydney University, I had the privilege of experiencing it firsthand. Here, I went to Vietnam as part of the Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Law, and Cultural Diversity program – which has opened a world of possibilities for me.


This study tour has been pivotal in my career success journey. I had the opportunity to dive deep into the country’s history and gain a profound understanding of its international relations. One highlight was visiting the Ford manufacturing plant and even conversing with a Vietnamese ministry official.

Ford Manufacturing Plant. Credit: Simran Prasad


Not only has this opened new doors for me, but it has also acquired me an edge in the job market. What’s more, I discovered the importance of things like communication, flexibility, and adaptability through this unique landscape.


Challenges in diversity?

It is worth mentioning that diversity in Vietnam, for me, was a striking feature of the tour, with stark differences in socioeconomic status, lifestyle, and beliefs. As I explored the diversity of Vietnam, little did I know that this diversity would bring its own challenges.


Misunderstandings when communicating with the locals pushed me to think outside the box and rely on translation apps in the spur of the moment. Nonetheless, this experience led me to understand the importance of connecting with culture and its people.


On a broader scale, there was a significant difference between the cities of Saigon and Hanoi, similar to the contrast between Sydney and Canberra.


Harvesting fresh cacao on Mr. Van’s farm during the Cacao Tour hosted by grand-place puratos. Credit: Simran Prasad.


Why was this experience so significant & what lessons did I learn?

As a foreigner to a new land, I quickly realised the importance of connecting with the locals to gain a fresh perspective. The speakers on the tour emphasised seeing barriers as opportunities – and I embraced their advice wholeheartedly. The experience has heightened my cultural competency, an important skill for future leadership positions. Understanding and addressing diversity in different societies is now something I feel I am equipped to do.


What am I taking from this experience moving forward?

Having an open mind is the key to seizing opportunities and creating success out of challenges. It’s all about changing our perspective and reshaping how we approach difficult situations – which is something I now reflect on.


Likewise, I discovered my calling to help others live happier lives during this tour. My focus has shifted towards people’s basic needs, rather than solely boosting firm profits. In this mission, our group organised a fundraiser for the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation.

Workshop at Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation in Hanoi. Credit: Simran Prasad.


Above all, this study tour has made me realise the endless possibilities available to me. Vietnam ignited an awakening in me, and now I truly believe that the world is my oyster.


With this newfound experience, I will approach formal and informal interactions with greater empathy for the diverse people I meet. I look forward to further exchange programs to continue building on this.

By Simran Prasad