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For a long time, we all have acknowledged the difference between Western and Eastern culture. There is a significant gap among people from every corner of the world not only in the outside appearance but also in the spiritual life. Each culture possesses its own distinct characters that most of us are able to recognize via various media channels such as magazines, books, television and movies. However, that is far from enough: “How can we comprehend a culture just by using the method of indirect observation?”. That is a reason why a majority of international students whose majors relate to language or social science often travel to other countries in other to do a research.

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“Travel broadens your mind” Yes, This quote is undeniable but also impossible and unaffordable. Fortunately, annually there are thousands of foreign tourists making a visit to our countries. We usually make lots of sound-reasonable excuses for not going abroad but now, they are coming to us. This is the greatest opportunity to explore a culture through its people. I’m really lucky to get involved in the SIT program this time of BELL Club. I met American students, hang out and studied with them. I’m travelling now!

The first impression is always important and those students have it. Most of them are good-looking while some are astonishing good-looking =)). They created friendly environment right after they stepped into the room with warm greeting, shaking hands and smiling.

However, It did not just stop at appearance. We know that western people tend to express their emotions freely while we tend to hold our emotions back. It is said that eastern culture are very collectivist meaning we do things for the good of everyone else, whereas Western cultures are seen as more individualistic. In spite of being influenced by that concept, Western people’s unconstrained behaviors partly depend on the environment they are raised in. What amazes me is the way their education systems nurture children’s curiosity. I carried an American student going to a Buddhist pagoda. He asked me enormous number of Why-questions which made me speechless. His inquisitive nature help open my mind. I really lack common knowledge about things happening around me every day as well as profound knowledge about religion and country of mine. He even wondered why I put our helmets under the saddle when we going to the pagoda but not when having dinner. It strikes me that he could notice the smallest incidents and build a desire for immediate answers. In the West, people are so curious that they become extremely active in asking questions.

Experience I collect this time is a precious gift, although it costs me a considerable amount of money. We shared the bills equally when we ate out, absolutely, that is American style! The problem is they couldn’t use street food or something having no clear origin. Therefore, the expenses for hanging out with those guys are little more expensive than I’ve expected. However, in comparison with the school fee for extra English class in which we expect to meet a English teacher to talk with us, this expenditure is much cheaper so eventually, I think it is worth!

Thanks to this program, I had plenty of beautiful memories the last two weeks. I hope this program will continue to spread out and flourish in the future.

Dương Ngọc Khánh Vy – member of Specialist Department