Study Abroad

Veronica Inveen

Veronica Inveen

This is me in My Son Sanctuary in central Vietnam–the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom.

Name: Veronica Inveen

Major: International Studies (Asia)

Minor: Southeast Asian Studies

Year: Senior

Study Abroad program name: CHID Vietnam–Building Peace in the Wake of War; CIEE Khon Kaen Thailand–Globalization and Development

Term of the program: Spring Semester 2015 and Summer A-Term 2015

Why did you decide to study abroad? I had already had the excitement of studying abroad in high school when I spent a year as an exchange student in Thailand, so coming into UW it was less a question of whether I was going to study abroad but a questions of what program and where!

What were your expectations going into the program? Although I had learned a lot about the history of Vietnam, modern day life in the country was completely unknown to me. Since I was so familiar with Thailand and had travelled to other Southeast Asian countries before, I definitely expected to encounter a similar lifestyle. I was also fairly inexperienced with Vietnamese food, so beyond pho and bhanh mi I was clueless as to what I would be eating the seven weeks I was there.

What was most surprising to you? Unlike in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Burma, the influence of China on Vietnam is incredibly present even today. Chinese style temples can be seen all around, along with signs written in Chinese, which was surprising to me. I also didn’t expect to still see the French influence on the architecture and cuisine even today. For instance, similar to the rest of Southeast Asia, there are vendors constantly selling food on the busy streets but in Vietnam they might be selling perfectly crafted French baguettes. Also, beautiful Parisian style buildings are not an uncommon sight in bigger cities like Hanoi.

What was your favorite food/dish while you were abroad? In Thailand my favorite food is a sausage from the northeastern region of the country called sai oua. It combines minced pork with ingredients like lemongrass, garlic and herbs resulting in a spicy lemon flavor! In Vietnam my friends from the program and I went crazy over a dessert called chè. A general description of chè would be a sweet dessert soup served in a cup with ice, but such a simple description doesn’t do it justice. It comes in many varieties made with everything from mung bean, taro, fruit, tapioca, lotus seeds, or all of that combined into one cup.