This is a cooperative program with Hobart and William Smith Colleges through the Partnership for Global Education (PGE).
One of the first established semester-long study abroad opportunities in Vietnam, this program enables students to explore an ancient Asian civilization which is undergoing a dramatic process of transition and modernization. Students will begin intensive Vietnamese language instruction in Ho Chi Minh City upon their arrival in Vietnam, continuing under the direction of faculty. An internship or independent study project is required.
The program mostly takes place in its two dynamic, fast-changing cities, Hanoi, Vietnam's political capital, and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), its financial center. But while Hanoi honors Vietnam's long and tumultuous past in the ancient merchant streets of its unique Old Quarter, the colonial facades of the French Quarter, the monuments and house of Ho Chi Minh and the relics of the struggle for independence and the "American War," it has also embraced the open economic policies of doi moi that is transforming Vietnam and is experiencing an exciting period of change. Hanoi is the perfect vantage point to witness Vietnam at a crossroads as the country navigates between Communism and open markets, a glorious (and also painful) past and an uncertain future, and increasing inequalities between rich and poor, city and countryside.
Course of Study
Union students will take four courses and receive four course credits:
Vietnamese History and Culture
In this course, students learn about Vietnamese history, aspects of Vietnamese culture, and current social, environmental, and political issues. Students write papers based on presentations provided by faculty and specialists in humanities, science, and social science fields, and excursions organized by the resident director. A translator is provided when necessary.
Students begin intensive instruction upon their arrival in Ho Chi Minh City and continue in Hanoi. This course is designed to enhance the student’s ability to understand, speak, read, and write Vietnamese and follows an interactive and communication-oriented approach.
Independent Field Project or Internship
Students may choose to pursue either an internship or an independent field study project. Those interested in an internship will need to consult with the faculty director as soon as possible to determine what options may exist while those who wish to complete the field project will need to work with both the faculty director and a faculty member on their home campus who will assist with the project.
Eating Cultures in Vietnam (ANT-131T)
This course will use anthropological tools to study sociocultural meanings, practices, histories, politics, and economics of the foods Vietnamese people eat. Students will seek to understand how the foods people eat (and those they do not) provide more than simply nourishment—they help to constitute social identities and group formation. Worldwide, we use the social “taste” of food to define and enforce class, race, and gender parameters. How do Vietnamese eaters, cooks, and food producers construct these categories—and how have these categories when related to food, changed over time? Students will focus on food production and processing, regional and class differences in cuisine, and the ways Vietnamese cuisines are influenced through interaction with Chinese and American modes of food economy and consumption. A central component of this study abroad course will be to cook and eat Vietnamese foods. We will also experience and assess food markets in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Hanoi, and various other locations in the country.
Study tours and excursions are an important part of the program. Excursions to various cultural and historical sites near Hanoi, including Halong Bay, the Chinese border region, and Mai Chau/Hoa Binh, are planned. Excursions from Ho Chi Minh City may include the Mekong Delta and the Cu Chi Tunnels. In addition, a ten-day central region study tour will visit cities such as Dalat, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Danang and Hue.
Students are housed in double rooms of dormitory units with private bath arranged by CET Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City.
(For specific dates, contact the International Programs Office, Old Chapel, Third Floor.)
- January: Application deadline is the third Friday of winter term.
- February: Accepted students must select "commit" or "decline" at the International Programs online application site to confirm participation
- Spring term: Orientation meetings
- Late August: Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City and begin program
- Late September: Travel to Hanoi
- Mid-December: Program ends
For More Information
Students may email Professor Teresa Meade