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Interdisciplinary Studies of Vietnam, Can Tho - Fall


This guide was created to help you navigate the different aspects of travelling abroad as a UCEAP student. All important aspects of attending university in your host country are addressed here, including academic information, extension of UCEAP participation, cultural awareness, orientation, transportation, finances and much more.

Remember to also visit the Participants section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.
Click a heading below to see section content.
Your UCEAP Network
 

UCEAP Contact Information

Program Advisor
Ann Logan
Phone: (805) 893-2831; E-mail: alogan@eap.ucop.edu
 
Operations Specialist
May Pothongsunun
Phone: (805) 893-6152; E-mail: mpothongsunun@eap.ucop.edu
 
Academic Specialist
Eva Bilandzia
Phone: (805) 893-2598; E-mail: ebilandzia@eap.ucop.edu
 
Student Finance Accountant
Annie Sikora
Phone: (805) 893-5928; E-mail: studentfinance@eap.ucop.edu
 
UCEAP Systemwide Office
6950 Hollister Avenue, Suite 200
Goleta, CA 93117-5823
 
Phone: (805) 893-4762
Fax: (805) 893-2583
 

UCEAP Online

Bookmark your Participants program page. This resource lists requirements and policies you need to know before you go abroad, including your Predeparture Checklist, UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Program Calendar, UCEAP Student Budgets, and payment instructions.
 
Connect with us! Join our Facebook network via the UCEAP Vietnam page
 
 

Study Center Abroad

The Vietnam program is administered on site by two UC Visiting Professors (VP). The professors will work closely with you on both academic and logistical matters and serve as a resource for housing, medical, and personal issues. A local program assistant  from Can Tho University also assists the professors with program administration.
 
Professor Cary Trexler
 
Professor Glenn Young
  

Phone Number Codes

U.S. international code......................011
(dial this to call from the U.S.)
Vietnam country code ........................84
Can Tho city code .................................. 71
 

Approximate Time Difference

Add 15 hours (or 14 hours during daylight saving time)
 
Academic Information
This program consists of a required core course with field excursions, Vietnamese language study, and either an internship or independent research.
 

Requirements

  • 18 UC quarter units; three courses for 6 units each.  The variable unit option is not available.
  • Core course “An Evolving Vietnam” for letter grade (P/NP option not permitted)
  • Vietnamese language course
  • Internship or research project
  • Participation in study trips

 You may take only one course for the P/NP grading option.

Core Course: An Evolving Vietnam 

Taught by the UC Visiting Professors, the core course provides a base for understanding Vietnam from a multidisciplinary perspective. This course focuses on contemporary Vietnam’s social, environmental, and economic issues, framed by the theory of sustainable development in which social, environmental and economic factors will be considered. The course includes site visits in the local area and involves extensive field trips to central and north Vietnam.
 

Vietnamese Language Study

Vietnamese language study is required and is offered at the introductory and intermediate levels. You will take a language placement exam after arrival in Vietnam.
  

Independent Research

Independent research opportunities are available in a variety of areas.  You may describe what type of research you're interested in doing as part of your predeparture checklist.
 

Service Learning/Internship

You may undertake a service learning activity for 8–10 hours per week, which integrates academic coursework and reflection with community service. The focus is to acquire firsthand experience with Vietnam’s social, cultural, and environmental activism through international or local nonprofits, such as an NGO organization focused on environment, a center for children with autism, or a training school for physically impaired teenagers and adults. The main feature is the service activities that you will perform during your time with the nonprofit organizations.
 

Study Trips

Field excursions associated with the core course are led by the UC Visiting Professor and will include multiday excursions to northern and central Vietnam, and site trips in the Can Tho area. These required trips are an integral part of the program. Details will be provided after you arrive .
 
​​
Program Overview
Academic Culture
Vietnam’s educational system is undergoing rapid change reflected in new styles of teaching and classroom dynamics. You may find an interesting mix of traditional Vietnamese teaching and Western styles, such as student discussions and seminars.  
 
Professors in Vietnam are to be treated with respect and deference. Remember to use the formal, respectful forms of the language when speaking with a professor. Conversation in class may be limited; questions or requests for clarification might best be undertaken one-on-one outside of class time. In general, there may be fewer opportunities for class discussion.
 
Language classes may be less interactive and more intensive than those to which you may be accustomed at UC. 
  
Vietnam’s culture places a premium on higher education as the way to achieve social position and economic well-being, and the demand for higher education in Vietnam has surged dramatically in the past decade.
 

Grades

Class attendance is mandatory and absences affect your final grade. It is expected that you come to class on time. Keep this attendance policy in mind when considering travel.
  
This is a new program. Grades may take up to 90 days after the completion of the program to get reported to your UC Office of the Registrar. 
Course Information
Extending UCEAP Participation
Cultural Awareness
Educate Yourself
"You will probably feel fatigued from the weather, the culture shock, the frustrations of always having people around, and haggling over the price of everything. It helps to be ready for it. Get a copy of Lonely Planet’s Vietnam and read it cover to cover. It will help you to get a feel for the country and get some good advice to start." - UCEAP Student 
Get acquainted with your new host city, country, and culture. Travel guides and travel-related websites, such as Lonely Planet, are excellent resources. Understand the local culture and history, and keep up with current events. Attitudes and behaviors accepted in the U.S. may be offensive or even illegal in other countries. Learn about and respect local customs and culture. The more you know, the more rewarding your experience will be. The following resources will help you prepare for your experience in Vietnam. 

 

Websites

ThanhNien News. The latest news and information about Vietnam.
Vietnam Culture. Various articles about Vietnamese culture. 
Social Conduct
Adjusting to a new environment can be a powerful experience for even the most seasoned traveler. Laws, customs, and gestures once taken for granted may no longer apply. Your values may be challenged or you may experience prejudices. You may no longer have the opportunity to converse in your native language or you may find yourself singled out.

Race Relations

Most visitors to Vietnam do not experience anti-American sentiment. The Vietnamese are welcoming of Americans, curious about their culture and society, and enthusiastic about the opportunities for mutual exchange and development.
 

Students of Vietnamese Origin

Being Viet Kieu (“Overseas Vietnamese”) is often difficult for students, especially if they do not speak Vietnamese well. Relating to local Vietnamese while feeling American is a very common sentiment, and it may take some time to assimilate the differences. Ask your Campus EAP Office for the names and contact information of past participants with whom you can discuss this issue.
 
There have been problems with U.S. consular access to American citizens. Frequently the embassy or consulate general is not immediately notified when U.S. citizens are arrested or detained. The Vietnamese government considers all people born in Vietnam or born to Vietnamese parents to be Vietnamese citizens unless they have formally renounced their Vietnamese citizenship with the Vietnamese government. For this reason, Vietnamese officials may treat U.S. citizens of Vietnamese origin differently from other U.S. citizens. Vietnamese citizens are subject to laws and restrictions that may be applied differently to foreigners. For example, the investigative detention law enables the government to detain Vietnamese citizens for longer periods of time while alleged criminal activities are under investigation.
"People did not accept the fact that I’m Vietnamese until I told them I’m Viet Kieu (overseas Vietnamese). They were more willing to believe that I’m Japanese, Korean, or Chinese." - UCEAP Student 
Relationships

Harassment

Men and women alike may comment about your appearance and behavior. What is perceived in the U.S. as low-level sexual harassment occurs in Vietnam. The best thing to do is take note of how your Vietnamese peers act and emulate them in style and dress. Western-style dress, especially fashions that bare shoulders, necklines, legs, and midriffs, will bring public scrutiny and unwanted attention. [Vietnamese women who dress like that would get the same treatment, although they are often more mobile (e.g., riding independently through crowds on their own motorbikes)]. Be prepared to hear comments about your weight regardless of your size. Vietnamese may deal with harassment differently and may not follow American norms. If you find yourself in a situation in which you feel harassed and feel threatened or uncomfortable, walk away, and talk to the UC professors immediately.
 

Relationships

There are differing perspectives toward romantic relationships in Vietnam. American students tend to form more intimate relationships rapidly and often have several girlfriends or boyfriends before settling down. The ideal among most Vietnamese remains to fall in love once with a courtship leading to marriage. Problems can arise when local students misinterpret gestures of friendship as signs of romantic interest. Biracial couples can also face forms of harassment or discrimination. Exercise good judgment in your relations with Vietnamese, and keep the emphasis on friendship.
 
There are no laws against same-sex relationships, and for the most part, attitudes toward members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community are relatively tolerant (don’t ask, don’t tell). For more information see the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.  
Politics
Individual freedom of speech in Vietnam is limited, and public criticism of the Communist Party or State and their policies can be punished severely. Though most Vietnamese can be critical of issues like corruption or incompetence, they are proud of their country and may dislike criticism from a foreigner. Exercise caution when discussing political or social issues, and let the person you’re speaking to take the lead in setting the boundaries of the conversation. Do not participate in rallies or demonstrations. If you find yourself caught up in a demonstration or other disturbance, find a way to leave the area quickly and safely.  
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation

Official UCEAP Start Date

Pre-Program Travel

Do not plan to travel outside of the U.S. after finals at UC and before the program begins. Each year, the host university sends visa documents on different dates, sometimes only a short time before the program’s Official Start Date. You need to be in the U.S. to receive the materials and process your visa which can take time. 
The dates of the program can change due to unforeseen circumstances. You are responsible for making modifications in your travel itinerary to accommodate such changes. UCEAP is not responsible for any unrecoverable transportation charges incurred for independent travel arrangements.
In order to keep informed of program changes, update MyEAP with any changes to your contact information.
 
Failure to arrive before the Official Start Date is cause for dismissal from the program (Student Agreement, Section 10). More detailed arrival information and directions to the check-in point are provided in the UCEAP Predeparture Checklist online.  

On-site Orientation

A multi-day orientation begins in Ho Chi Minh City and concludes in Can Tho. The orientations with the UC Visiting Professor and Can Tho representatives include: 
  • Health, safety, basic shopping, and access to banks
  • Student housing, the campus, the neighborhood, and transportation
  • Walking and bus tours of the city and local neighborhoods
  • Registering with a medical clinic and the U.S. consulate
  • A language exam to determine your placement
  • MyEAP course registration
  • Introduction to community service organizations
Throughout the program, attend all meetings called by the Visiting Professor, respond promptly to messages, and maintain contact with the Visiting Professor.
Travel Planning
Travel to Your Host Country
Despite rumors on this subject, you will not need to bribe immigration officials. With the proper travel documents, it is a smooth process. Previous UCEAP students have all passed through airport immigration without trouble.
There is no group flight to Vietnam. You must make your own travel arrangements to Vietnam. Even if you are on full financial aid, you are responsible for reserving and purchasing your ticket. Your Financial Aid Office will not purchase tickets for you. You are strongly urged to purchase a changeable airline ticket (standby tickets are not appropriate).  
 
It is recommended that you arrive at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. After the required orientation, UCEAP students will travel as a group from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho with transportation arranged by UCEAP. 
 
The official start date is available in the Calendar section of your Participants program page. If you fail to arrive by the official start date, you will be subject to dismissal from the program (see Student Agreement, Section 10, in MyEAP).
 
UCEAP is not responsible for any unrecoverable transportation charges you may incur for independent travel arrangements and/or nonrefundable/nonchangeable tickets. International flights are routinely changed or canceled, so confirm your flight schedule with your airline at least two weeks before departure.
 
See the UCEAP online Predeparture Checklist for detailed arrival instructions and maps.
 
 
Travel Documents
​Additional information about passports, visas, and other required documents is provided in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad and in the online Predeparture Checklist.
 

Student Visa

A student visa is an endorsement, usually a stamp or sticker, placed in your passport by the Consulate General of Vietnam. It grants you permission to enter and reside in Vietnam as a student. You are required to obtain a student visa in the U.S. before departure. You will not be allowed to enter Vietnam without a valid passport and student visa.
 
Your student visa is only valid for a single entry into Vietnam (per host university and government rules). Therefore, you may not exit and reenter Vietnam during the program. Schedule recreational travel before entering Vietnam or after the program is completed in December.
 
If you enter the country on a tourist visa or visa exemption for overseas Vietnamese, you will not be able to participate in the program. If you book your flight through a travel agent, make sure they know that you will be receiving a student visa, and that you will not need either a tourist visa or a visa exemption.  
Packing Tips
You can buy the majority of what you need in Vietnam. There is a Big C hypermart in Can Tho that sells items for move-in needs and daily use. American products are also available at for purchase at stores in Ho Chi Minh City.
 
The UCEAP Insurance Plan includes a personal property benefit, but it is your responsibility to review the coverage and ensure that it will meet your needs. Identify each item of luggage on the inside and outside with your name, home address, and destination.
Always carry your passport, visa, ticket, prescription medications, and money while traveling. Never put valuables in your checked luggage. Leave extra credit cards at home.
 

Essential

  • A limited and conservative wardrobe, including washable, easy-to-care-for clothing, lightweight shirts, slacks, shorts, and jeans, preferably of natural fabrics (cotton, linen, etc.). Most laundry shops will air dry your items. Please do not bring clothing for school or even dorm living that expose too much skin. 
  • Sandals and comfortable shoes for walking (large sizes will be difficult to find)
  • Warm socks and a lightweight coat for winter
  • Some nice clothes for formal dinners and special events
  • Umbrella or rain coat
  • Vitamins and personal hygiene products (may be difficult to find, particularly if you have a preferred brand)
  • Prescription medication (see the Staying Healthy chapter of this guide)
  • Liquid hand sanitizer or antibacterial tissues (containing at least 60 percent alcohol)
  • A Vietnam travel guide
  • Camera
  • A few typically American gifts for foreign hosts and new friends (gift suggestions include Frisbees, T-shirts, UC pens and pencils, decals, baseball caps representing Major League and NBA teams, California pistachios or almonds, California postcards or scenic calendars). Any items marked with “Made in the USA” are also appreciated.
  • A medium-sized backpack (around 30 or 40 liters) for field trips

Optional

  • Athletic gear, including a swimsuit
  • Laptop

Climate and Dress

"Pack cool clothing since the weather is humid, but don’t wear clothing that’s too revealing. People are very conservative and locals will stare." - UCEAP Student
The rainy season will be winding down when you arrive in August. Typhoons typically hit the central and north coasts and have been increasing in frequency over the past few years. Be prepared for wet, hot, and humid weather. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Take lightweight clothing for the heat and humidity as well as an umbrella and clothing for the wet weather. Even with the hot and humid conditions, tank tops, short shorts, and provocative clothing are culturally inappropriate for both men and women, and tend to draw attention.
 
December can get cooler, and previous UCEAP participants recommend taking a least one sweater or lightweight jacket. Keep in mind that most buildings in Vietnam are not heated.
The UCEAP Student Budget does not include funds for the purchase of clothing abroad.
Financial Information
Understanding Your Finances
 
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
 
 
Handling Money Abroad
​The official currency unit in Vietnam is the dong (abbreviated VND or D). Carry only small amounts of cash and few credit cards.

Initial Funds

Vietnam remains a largely cash-based economy. It is recommended that you take cash (crisp, non-marked U.S. $100 bills), an ATM card that will allow you to withdraw money from your U.S. account, and a credit card for emergencies. Keep the credit card safe in your dormitory room once you arrive. Since it is impossible to purchase dong outside of Vietnam, you will exchange currency after arrival.
 
If you are taking an ATM and/or credit card with you, be sure to alert your bank and credit card companies that they will see activity on your account originating from Vietnam. Otherwise, they may freeze your account on suspicion of fraud.  
 

Banking

You will need a letter from Can Tho University if you wish to open a bank account in Vietnam.
Your ATM card is the best way of accessing money from the U.S. There are international ATMs that will allow you to withdraw money from accounts held at most U.S. banks. Note that ATMs have relatively low maximum withdrawal limits and each transaction will involve fees. All withdrawals in Vietnam must be made in Vietnamese dong.
 
Citibank and HSBC have a few ATMs in Can Tho. Charles Schwab account holders can withdraw money from international ATMs and be reimbursed for fees incurred. However, there may be a minimum balance requirement.
 
If you need to have money wired to you, you can use Western Union or the currency transfer services commonly used by the Vietnamese communities in Orange County and San José.
 

Credit Cards

Major credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are accepted in some restaurants and stores. Check with your bank before departure about services available abroad.  
 

Tipping

Tipping is not customary in Vietnam; however, it is appreciated for exceptional service. Consider tipping hired drivers and guides. It is also polite to leave a small donation at the end of a visit to a pagoda.
 

Bargaining

Bargaining is a way of life in Vietnam. Bargaining in markets is a good way to practice Vietnamese and enjoy a form of cultural exchange. If the idea of bargaining is intimidating to you, spend some time watching how others do it. A general rule is to ask the original price, and then offer about half of that price and work from there. If you are perceived as a foreigner, the original price may be higher. 
"Vietnam has a culture of negotiation. The essential point is not necessarily to get the best price, but a fair price."
- UCEAP Student 
Note, though, that prices for prepared food (e.g., street food stalls) are fixed, as well as prices in stores or department stores where prices are marked on the item.  
"If you look Western (or even look Asian but sound Western) you’ll be charged more money than locals. Get used to it; it will happen everywhere." - UCEAP Student
Communications Abroad
Internet Access
"Make sure to bring a flash drive. And back stuff up because you will probably end up getting a virus one way or another." - UCEAP Student​
The computer access and facilities to which you are accustomed at your UC campus may greatly differ from those in Vietnam. Internet will be slower than you are used to at home, and it may be unstable or even go down for hours (same goes for electricity).
 
There are over 500 computers available for use at Can Tho University's Learning Resource Center. You can also access computers by visiting Internet cafés and many coffee shops and cafés now have WiFi.
 
You can take your own laptop and connect to local services. If you decide to take your laptop to Vietnam, be aware that there is a risk of theft. You are advised to take a security cable and obtain personal property insurance beforehand. Take steps to minimize the risk of theft (e.g., lock the laptop in a closet when not in use).  

Use caution when posting on social media sites as they may be monitored by the government. Be aware that the Vietnamese government restricts access to a range of Internet sites, including common ones such as Facebook. 
Phones
​Approximate time difference: add 15 hours (14 hours during daylight saving time)
Phones and fax machines are available in most Internet cafés, hotels, and convenience stores. The post office usually offers the least expensive overseas phone rates. Students often set up cell phone service for local calls.
 
Most students either take their cell phone with them or purchase an inexpensive phone upon arrival. If you are taking a phone from home, make sure it is unlocked and accepts a SIM card. You can get your phone unlocked in Vietnam, but the cost can be more than the price of an inexpensive new phone. Once you have an unlocked phone and local SIM card, you can buy pay-as-you­ go phone cards in a range of denominations. Calling and texting within Vietnam is cheap, but international calls are expensive.
"Cell phones in Vietnam do not operate on a monthly plan with a set number of minutes available. Instead, you buy a card with a certain amount of money on it. One minute of cell phone usage is about 2,500 dong, whereas a text message costs 400 dong. On the other hand, incoming calls are free. Once the money in the phone is depleted, you have to get another card." - UCEAP Student 
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), the technology for transmitting voice conversations via the Internet, is popular with students who take a laptop abroad. Social networking software such as Skype is commonly used to make free or low-cost calls over the Internet.  
Mail & Shipments
You will learn your mailing address after your housing contract is finalized.
Do not ship goods to and from Vietnam. Packages are examined by customs and items may be subject to taxes.   
Housing & Meals
Housing
During the first days in Vietnam, you will be housed in a hotel in Ho Chi Minh City for a two day orientation. After transit by the UCEAP program to Can Tho for the remaining days of orientation, students may be housed either in a local residential hostel/hotel or in an international dormitory on the campus for the duration of the stay in Can Tho. The decision by UCEAP about which housing option is best for students will be made in advance of your arrival, with attention to minimizing cost to students, safety and security, and accessibility to internet, food resources, and transit to classes, in mind.
"There’s a good chance that you’ll have to learn how to use a squatting toilet instead of a sit-down one. But once you overcome the psychological impediment, the hardest part is over. You’ll need to bring your own toilet paper, but don’t throw the toilet paper into the squatter—use the trash can. Once you’re finished, take a pail, fill it with water, and dump it into the squatter. Repeat as necessary. Once you have successfully used a squatting toilet, you’re ready for absolutely anything that Vietnam has to throw at you." - UCEAP Student 
Meals
"The key to food safety is to eat hot, fresh food." - UCEAP Student
Cuisine in Vietnam can differ between the regions. Rice and noodles are basic elements always present. Pho is a common noodle dish. Many of the meals also include fresh vegetables and herbs.
 
A wide range of food stalls, small snack stands, restaurants, and well-appointed luxury restaurants (both local and international) are available in Vietnam. While the prices can vary dramatically, it is entirely feasible to eat out three times a day and spend less than $10 per day for tasty, healthy, balanced meals.
 
Strict vegetarians may have a difficult time and need to adjust their diet by adding fish, dairy, or eggs. Fish sauce is a staple in Vietnamese cuisine. Animal fats, fish sauce, or broths are often used in its preparation even if a dish does not include pieces of meat. Buddhist restaurants, however, have vegetarian meals, but these restaurants are much rarer in the north than in the south. Western restaurants will typically have some vegetarian dishes on the menu and there are a few dedicated vegetarian restaurants with correspondingly higher prices. Halal cuisine is available on a limited basis.
 
Do not drink the tap water. Bottled water is reliable, inexpensive, and available everywhere in Vietnam. Even locals drink boiled or bottled water.  
"If you’re sensitive to MSG, you’re in for a real treat in Vietnam—there are fistfuls of the stuff in many dishes. Learn to say ‘no MSG please’ in Vietnamese." - UCEAP Student 
Daily Life Abroad
Local Transportation

Transportation Safety

Chaotic traffic conditions and traffic accidents pose serious safety problems in Vietnam. Streets in Vietnam are clogged with motorcycles, cars, buses, trucks, bicycles, cyclos, and pedestrians.  UC students will be advised to purchase a bicycle for daily transit.
"The traffic is awful. Be careful. I’m glad I survived the crazy streets." - UCEAP Student
You are cautioned to adhere to the following safety guidelines:
  • Do not drive a motorized vehicle of any kind.
  • Take advantage of the public bus system 
  • Use licensed automobile taxis if you require transportation that cannot be served by a bus (taxi fares are low, especially if you share with other students).
  • Be vigilant and use caution at all times, even on foot.
For more information about transportation safety concerns, see the Staying Safe chapter of this guide.

Travel within Vietnam

Bicycles

You can rent or purchase a bicycle locally; it can serve as an easy method for getting around campus.
 

Buses

The public bus system continues to expand and provides coverage to most areas of the city.
 

Taxis

There are several metered taxi services available. The rates are reasonable for short-distance travel. Use only clearly marked taxis that have meters and the taxi driver’s identity card clearly displayed on the dashboard.  
The UCEAP Student Budget does not include funds for recreational travel.
Extracurricular Activities

Get Involved

Participating in extracurricular cultural and social activities while on UCEAP is an excellent way to meet people, improve your language skills, and integrate more fully into the community. Join sports, musical, theater, or arts groups; volunteer at local organizations; attend lectures and receptions held in academic and community circles; and get the most out of your time abroad.
"Take advantage of fieldwork opportunities. It’s the best way to truly engage and break through the superficial." - UCEAP Student

Sports

You can participate in numerous sport activities, including soccer, volleyball, badminton, cycling, hiking, and basketball. There is a sports field and recreation center on campus.  
 

Volunteer Opportunities

If you are interested in volunteering, see the Academic Information chapter of this guide. The Visiting Professor can assist you with finding an appropriate organization for volunteering.
 

Outdoor Activities

Vietnam has numerous National Parks. You can enjoy beaches, hiking, bird watching, and trekking.
 

Shopping

There is a wide array of goods for sale in Vietnam. Many students like to shop at the local markets. Can Tho is famous for its lively floating markets.   
Students with Disabilities
Travel Sign-out Form
 
LGBT Issues

​Current societal and cultural norms prevalent in the Vietnamese society present a moderate risk for LGBT travelers. Vietnam is one of the few Asian countries never to have issued a law making homosexuality illegal. Despite the absence of a law in Vietnamese history, LGBT individuals are not widely accepted due to cultural and religious norms placing emphasis on family and masculinity.

The attitude of Vietnamese locals towards homosexuality is one of nonconfrontation, and the limited reports of violence toward LGBT individuals reflects this behavior. In smaller villages throughout the country, reports indicate a more conservative view toward homosexuality and a stricter response among families toward openly LGBT members, sometimes resorting to violence.

Insurance
UCEAP Insurance
 
Staying Healthy
Local Medical Facilities
​Read about the health care limitations in Vietnam. Medical facilities in Vietnam do not meet international standards and frequently lack medicines and supplies. International health clinics in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City can provide acceptable care for minor illnesses and injuries, but more serious problems will often require medical evacuation. Your UCEAP insurance will cover a medical evacuation when a local physician and UCEAP's assistance providers, Europ Assistance/USA (EA/USA) authorize the transport.
 
If you feel sick or have a medical emergency, seek medical attention and contact the UCEAP Visitng Professor immediately.
 
UCEAP has made arrangements with its assistance provider, Europ Assistance/USA (EA/USA), to pay directly for medical services rendered within the UCEAP insurance policy terms at the hospital below. At this hospital, you can avoid having to pay for treatment up front and submitting a claim for a refund.  You must make arrangements with EA/USA.
 
In a non-emergency, EA/USA will assist you in making appointments if you contact them first, and whenever possible, EA/USA will pay the medical provider directly. EA/USA will establish a case number for you, and their agents in Vietnam will contact the hospital for a guarantee of payment, stating that ACE Insurance will provide full payment for your medical treatment. To contact EA/USA, place an international collect call 00+1+202+828-5896 or email them at OPS@europassistance-usa.com. Tell them that you are a student studying through UCEAP in Can Tho and give them the UCEAP insurance policy number, ADDN 04834823.
 
Hoan My Cuu Long Hospital
20 Quang Trung Street
Cai Rang District
Can Tho, Vietnam
Tel:  0710-3917-901
Emergency: 0710-3916-916
 
  
If you follow the procedure detailed above, you will not have to pay in advance. If you do not, you will have to pay upfront, in cash, and submit an insurance claim. In case that you pay upfront, keep all receipts and documents from the hospital.
 
Cultural differences may make communication with doctors difficult. Medical personnel in Vietnam, particularly outside Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, may speak little or no English. Doctors and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for health services.
Physical Health

Before Departure:

  • Read the Health and Safety chapters of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
  • Access the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travelers’ Health website for travel health information on any destination.
  • Take an adequate supply of personal medications (including prescriptions).
  • If you have a chronic health condition, contact your physician before departure to ensure that you are able to go and/or to design a plan in case of need or an emergency. Make sure your doctor is aware of where you are going and the duration. The stresses of international travel, especially if it is over a longer period of time, can often intensify pre-existing medical conditions. Be sure to obtain referrals or resources that will help you while in Vietnam.

Adjustments Upon Arrival

The first few days in Vietnam may be the hardest. You will experience jet lag (or flight fatigue; a temporary condition that causes fatigue, insomnia, and other symptoms due to air travel across time zones). You will also immediately face Vietnam’s heat, noise, crowds, and pollution. You will have to learn new ways to do many things, from bartering to crossing streets, which can be challenging. It is important to slow down, take everything in stride, and realize that it will take time and patience to adjust to your new surroundings.   
 
With the change in diet, climate, and sanitary standards, you may experience an upset stomach and diarrhea. Former UCEAP students recommend that you bring an antidiarrheal medication with you to Vietnam. In addition, be prepared for sinus illnesses and allergies, which may be worse than in the U.S. due to the pollution.
"Take your vitamins and drink plenty of bottled water. You’ll burn a lot of calories and sweat constantly, so fortify yourself; it will help you avoid illness." - UCEAP Student

Health Tips:

Notify the Visiting Professor about serious medical conditions.
  • When traveling to and from Vietnam, you may encounter health surveillance at airports.
  • Understand what you must do to prepare for your health and safety abroad.
  • If you have a pre-existing chronic condition that requires special attention, consider wearing MedicAlert medical ID.
  • Pack a travel first aid kit.
  • Be aware that alcohol or drug use will impair your judgment. 
"Carry alcohol wipes with you to wash your hands." - UCEAP Student
Prescription Medications
Commonly prescribed U.S. medications are not available in Vietnam. If you require prescription medications, you will need to confirm whether your specific prescriptions and dosages are legal and available in Vietnam. Contact Europ Assistance, the University of California’s travel assistance provider, at (866) 451-7606 or e-mail ops@europassistance-usa.com for information. 
 
Keep your medications in containers that clearly show your name, the prescribing doctor’s name, and the prescription number to facilitate your clearance through customs. A copy of the prescription and a letter from your physician with a detailed explanation (including the generic name, dosage, and purpose) should accompany all medications.
 
If a prescribing doctor advises against taking a large supply of medication, you will need a letter (on letterhead) from the doctor with your diagnosis, treatment and medication regime so that a Vietnamese physician can asseess you and fill your prescription properly. In some cases, this physician may conduct an examination and confirm the diagnosis before filling the prescription provided by your doctor.
 
Always pack prescription medications in your carry-on luggage.  
Mental Health
There is no bilingual counseling in Can Tho.  If you were to need counseling while in Can Tho, the only possibility would be Ho Chi Minh (the nearest location for the best counseling), which is a 3-hour drive.
 
There is one government-owned mental health hospital in Can Tho City. This facility currently serves an estimated 200 patients per day with eight physicians on staff. This is known locally as “The Can Tho City Mental Hospital.” Recent reports indicate severe staffing and supply shortages. Adding to the burden of reduced resources is a nationwide misunderstanding of what constitute true mental health disorders. Epilepsy, a physiological condition, is classified as a mental health disorder in Vietnam and carries a social stigma, as well as a legal one in many instances. Additionally, many other mental health conditions common to Western countries also carry a relatively high degree of social stigma, and patients are reluctant to self-identify because of this discrimination.
 
Do not be surprised to think, “It’s not what I expected.” Expect the unexpected and be sensitive to romanticized misconceptions or unrealistic expectations. Living abroad is stressful by its very nature. Life in Vietnam, fast-paced as it is, adds crowds, noise, and a foreign surrounding. Ask for insight from locals and acknowledge that this is a valuable learning experience.
 
Culture shock and homesick feelings are normal. It is easy to become worn down from physical and mental stress due to the vastly different environment. To counter this, eat well, stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, share concerns with the UCEAP Resident Director, and be open to and accepting of the differences you encounter. It will make your stay more enjoyable as you adapt to the new environment.  
 
Most students who experience culture shock function reasonably well under the stress and are able to keep up with the responsibilities of school and everyday life. However, any situation entailing a high level of stress can cause unusually strong emotional reactions and can interfere with effective functioning either immediately or later. Such reactions are normal responses to abnormal situations and are to be expected under the circumstances. They are usually transitory— lasting a couple of weeks—and do not imply mental illness or an inability to cope. However, there are occasions when the experience of culture shock can stir up deeper emotional issues. These reactions should not be ignored; if they persist, a student needs to immediately seek help. 
 
Despite many accomplishments and strides over the past decade, mental health services (MHS) are still lacking in many areas of Vietnam. Although access to services has been made a national health priority, mental health legislation, human resources, mental health hospital beds, and diversification of mental health services are still lacking throughout the country.
Health Risks
"Prior to departure, the campus health center was extremely helpful. They thoroughly reviewed what was needed and the possible health risks in Southeast Asia." - UCEAP Student

Water and Food Safety

Consider all local water contaminated, and boil tap water for drinking, brushing teeth, and making ice cubes (bringing water to a good rolling boil is sufficient). You may also brush your teeth with bottled water and avoid using ice cubes altogether. Bottled water is widely available; check cap seals and ensure that bottles are uncapped in your presence. Hot tea is advised as a beverage.
 
Much of Vietnam’s produce is contaminated by polluted water and pesticides. As a general rule, avoid eating fruits and vegetables that have not been freshly peeled and/or cooked. Avoid salads. Eat only well-cooked meat and seafood. Local dairy products are not considered safe. Use dairy products imported from New Zealand including long-life milk and butter. Contaminated food and water pose the greatest risk for travelers’ diarrhea. To reduce the risk of salmonella, avoid raw and undercooked eggs.
"My stomach experienced culture shock. You’ll likely get diarrhea. Pack stomach medicine." - UCEAP Student 

Avian Flu and Other Infectious Diseases

UCEAP continually reviews information from the CDC and World Health Organization, works closely with medical experts on the UC campuses, and monitors local host university and country health resources.
 
Avian flu continues to be reported among bird populations in Southeast Asia. It is important for you to exercise care while abroad and avoid poultry farms, contact with animals in live food markets, and any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces or fluids from poultry or other animals; also be sure to eat only thoroughly cooked poultry products. Refer to additional information on the UCEAP website.
 
Note that, in the event of a pandemic, UCEAP’s ability to assist students abroad may be severely limited by restrictions on local and international movement imposed for public health reasons by foreign governments and/or the U.S.
 

Insect Protection

There are many more insects and rodents than you may expect to see. Protect yourself from mosquito bites. Insect repellent with DEET and after-bite medication is recommended.
 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mosquitoes transmit diseases such as dengue fever and malaria. Wear long sleeves, long pants, hats, and shoes (rather than sandals). For rural and forested areas, boots are preferable, with pants tucked in, to prevent tick bites. Apply insect repellents containing 25–50 percent DEET (N,N-diethyl-3 methylbenzamide) or 20 percent picaridin (Bayrepel) to exposed skin (but not to the eyes, mouth, or open wounds). DEET may also be applied to clothing.
 
Don’t sleep with the window open unless there is a screen. If sleeping outdoors or in an accommodation that allows entry of mosquitoes, use a bed net, preferably doused with insect repellent, with edges tucked in under the mattress. If the sleeping area is not otherwise protected, use a mosquito coil, which fills the room with insecticide through the night.
"Get used to regularly putting on insect repellent and tucking in your mosquito netting at night." - UCEAP Student 

Waterborne Diseases and Parasitic Infections

To prevent serious parasitic infections, avoid swimming, wading, or rafting in bodies of fresh water, such as lakes, ponds, canals, streams, or rivers. Swim only in moving water, such as the ocean, and well chlorinated swimming pools to avoid infection with schistosomiasis.  
 

Allergies

Selecting safe foods in the U.S. may be easy, but a foreign menu can have many unexpected ingredients and the label will be in the local language.
  • Consult with a Travel Health Specialist.
  • Plan ahead, have an emergency care plan, and a letter from your doctor that confirms your food allergies and medications. Carry the documents with you at all times.
  • Research all your travel destinations.
  • Always be prepared for your worst-case scenario.
  • Careful preparation will make your trip safe and enjoyable. Make sure you have all the medicines you need for the duration of the trip and a for a few extra days in case of unexpected travel delays.
  • Consider wearing medical alert identification indicating your allergies. 
  • If you have to take any medications for your condition, make sure to have them on you at all times. This means antihistamines and epinephrine if you have a serious food allergy.
  • Find out how to talk about your allergies in the local language.
  • In a restaurant, don’t assume that just because the waitstaff has informed you they know how to deal with food allergies that your food will be safe.
Read more in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Health chapter.

 

Staying Safe
Minimize Risk
​There are steps you can take to manage or minimize risk. Stop and think. Inform yourself of risks you can encounter while traveling. Talk to returnees and learn firsthand the things to avoid. Follow the Visiting Professor's advice.​ Remain aware of your surroundings.Cell phones and Ipods can be distracting. When you remain aware of your surroundings your instinct will alert you to conditions or persons that are potentially unsafe. Trust your instincts.
 
UCEAP takes the safety and security of participants very seriously and provides credible and timely advice during predeparture and while in Vietnam. However, as in the U.S., you are ultimately responsible for your own personal safety. Before traveling, ensure that you are fully prepared, that you are aware of any risks, and that you have mitigated them. International travel is a great opportunity, and you should know how to optimize the experience for yourself. While UCEAP provides resources aimed at facilitating a safe travel experience, it cannot ensure that your travels and stay in the host country will be problem-free or account for all the potential health and safety risks that you might experience.
 
Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment, having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as well-off, are some of the factors that can put you at risk. Prepare for your new environment by learning about the sociocultural norms of your host country.
 
Studying and living abroad requires changes in your lifestyle preferences and habits to respect the host country cultural expectations and to minimize your personal security risks.
 

Tips for Staying Safe

  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Avoid walking alone at night.travel
  • Travel in groups and restrict nighttime movements in unfamiliar areas
  • Avoid travel in isolated or poorly-lit areas.
  • Never leave valuables unattended; if staying at a hotel, lock important items and documents in the hotel safe or safety deposit box.
  • Remain alert in crowded public areas, outdoor cafes, markets, tourist sites, outside hotels and nightclubs, in public parks, and along street corners.
  • Be wary and closely guard valuables when surrounded by street vendors, children, or other groups of people, due to the risk of pickpocketing.
  • Do not resist if you are victim of a theft.
  • Do not carry your passport with you after you arrive. For identification while in Can Tho, carry a photocopy of your passport identification page and student visa. When traveling outside of Can Tho, the Visiting Professor will provide you with specific instructions on required identification.
  • If you are the victim of a crime while in Vietnam, immediately report it to the Visiting Professor, U.S. Embassy, and local police.
  • If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, do so responsibly; alcohol impairs your judgment and healthy decision making. Criminals are known to target vulnerable individuals whose judgment is impaired by intoxication. Do not leave drinks unattended in bars and nightclubs. Instances of drink-spiking have been reported. Drugs can easily be mixed into drinks when unattended. These drugs can disorient you, dramatically impair your judgment, or cause you to lose consciousness. Once you lose sight of your drink, do not continue drinking.  
"Women should be prepared for frequent stares, comments, and other mild forms of harassment on the street. You look different and will attract unwanted attention. Feel free to discuss this with any of the professors; they can provide cultural explanations and suggestions on how to handle such situations." - UCEAP Student
Crime & Prevention

Theft

Although most travelers in Vietnam feel relatively safe, pick-pocketing and petty crimes occur. Violent crimes such as armed robbery, kidnappings, and murder against westerners or tourists remain rare.
 
Motorcyclists have been known to grab purses or other valuables items from pedestrians. This is especially dangerous if you have the straps of your purse across your upper body or around your neck. The perpetrator may drag down the victim if the straps do not break. There have been several serious injuries and fatalities as a result of this type of purse snatching. Consider using a money belt under your garments or alternative methods for carrying valuables. If you use a purse, walk with it only hanging from one shoulder facing away from the edge of the street.
 

Drugs

The penalty for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs in Vietnam is severe. Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and, in some cases, the death penalty.
Drug use, which contributes significantly to the crime rate, is an increasing problem in Vietnam, particularly the increasing use of methamphetamine and intravenous drugs. According to the U.S. Department of State, illicit drugs in Vietnam are extremely potent and several Americans have died of accidental overdose. Avoid drug use of all kinds.
 

Nightclubs

There are nightclubs in Vietnam that are sources of entertainment, cultural exchange, and social interaction with the locals. Be aware, however, of drug use and dealing that occurs at some nightclubs and surrounding areas. Nightclubs are also a place where cultural miscommunications can get out of hand, and even lead to violent confrontation. Do not go to unfamiliar nightclubs alone or leave your drink unattended. Remember that it is always better to defuse a situation than to escalate it. When leaving a club late at night, travel in a group and take only reputable taxis.
  

Government Scrutiny

There is no reasonale expectation of privacy in public or private locations. Be discreet about discussing politics and religion while in Vietnam. These are sensitive issues and are regulated by the government. Officials monitor information travelers bring into the country, especially political or religious material. Writing that is deemed antigovernment is not allowed.
 
Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of police, military, or security interest is illegal, and punishment can be severe. Be cautious when traveling near military bases and avoid photography in these areas.
 
Freedom of speech continues to be near non-existent, and the government has passed a number of laws that allow officials to arrest and detain any groups or people that seek to publish or disseminate anti-government materials.
 

Criminal Penalties

While you are traveling in Vietnam, you are subject to the laws of Vietnam even if you are a U.S. citizen. The Vietnamese legal system and some Vietnamese laws can be vastly different from our own. While you are in Vietnam, U.S. laws do not apply. If you do something illegal in Vietnam, your U.S. passport will not help.
 
In some places in Vietnam, you may be taken in for questioning if you do not have your passport with you. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings (see Special Circumstances below). Driving under the influence of alcohol in Vietnam can result in fines, confiscation of your driving permit, or imprisonment. There are also some actions that might be legal in Vietnam but still illegal in the United States. Be aware that you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods, engage in child pornography, or have sex with minors.
 
Notification and Access:  An agreement between the United States and Vietnam provides that Vietnamese officials should notify the U.S. Embassy of the detainment of a U.S. citizen within 96 hours of the arrest and that they give U.S. officials access to those citizens within 48 hours after notification of the arrest. For purposes of notification and access, the U.S. government considers a U.S. citizen to be anyone — including a U.S. citizen of Vietnamese origin -- who enters Vietnam on a U.S. passport. Therefore, we encourage you to carry photocopies of your U.S. passport data and photo pages at all times so that, if questioned by Vietnamese officials, you have proof of your U.S. citizenship readily available.
 
Despite the agreement, Vietnamese officials do not always notify U.S. consular officers in Vietnam in a timely manner when they arrest or detain a U.S. citizen. There have also been very significant delays in U.S. consular officers obtaining access to some incarcerated U.S. citizens. This has been particularly true when the U.S. citizen is being held during the investigatory stage, which Vietnamese officials do not consider covered by the bilateral agreement. The investigatory stage can last up to one year, and often proceeds without the formal filing of any charges. U.S. citizens should note that the problem of access has been particularly evident when the Vietnamese government considers the U.S. citizen to be a citizen of Vietnam, irrespective of proof of U.S. citizenship. According to the agreement, U.S. citizens, even dual citizens, have the right to consular access if they were admitted into Vietnam as a U.S. citizen with their U.S. passport.
 
If detained or arrested, U.S. citizens should insist, politely and respectuflly, to allow contact with the U.S. Mission.
 

Photography

Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems such as being questioned by authorities, being assessed a fine, and your travel being delayed for several days. You should be cautious when traveling near military bases and avoid photographing in these areas.
Civil Unrest
Public demonstrations are generally not tolerated in Vietnam and can carry heavy penalties, including lengthy jail sentences. Avoid demonstrations and follow the advice of local authorities.
Traffic & Transportation Safety
The two most dangerous activities in Vietnam are crossing the street and driving or riding in traffic.
 
You are strictly prohibited from driving motorized vehicles. U.S. drivers’ licenses and international driving permits are not valid in Vietnam. You risk prosecution and/or imprisonment for illegally driving without an endorsed Vietnamese license. As any accident can lead to major safety, legal, financial, and medical consequences, UCEAP prohibits operating any kind of motor vehicle, including motorbikes, while enrolled in the program. If found in violation of this policy, you will face disciplinary action, including dismissal.
 
Motorbikes in Vietnam are the most common vehicles (nearly 85 percent of all local transportation). They share the road with trucks, busses, cyclists, and pedestrians, posing a serious risk of accidents, injury, and death. Despite the fact that helmet use is now mandatory, Vietnam still has the highest rate of death due to head injury in the world. Major factors in accident are youth, inexperience, and alcohol use.
 

Pedestrians

  • Be aware that vehicles do not yield to pedestrians.
  • Be alert. Watch for traffic from all directions before crossing streets, even when using a pedestrian crosswalk. Learning how to cross the street safely is an important session during orientation.
  • Never dart into traffic or make sudden, jerky movements once you are in the traffic.
  • Successfully crossing the street entails stepping into the traffic and moving slowly and steadily across the street. This enables oncoming motorists to gauge where you are and predict where you are going so they can avoid you. Motorbike drivers tend to ignore lights.
  • Sidewalks are extremely uneven and congested, and drivers routinely ignore traffic signals and traffic flows, and even drive on sidewalks.
"Crossing the street will be more difficult than you think. Imagine the 405 freeway with motorbikes—you have to bite your lip and hope everyone can dodge you." - UCEAP Student

Public Transportation

Taxis are available in Can Tho. Taxis from reputable companies provide a relatively secure transportation optio. Avvoid unofficial or disreputable taxi companies, as some may seek to scam .you. The three most reputable taxi companies in Vietnam are Vinasun (white with dark green trim), Mai Linh (white with bright green trim), and VinaTaxi (yellow with black bumpers). Be sure to check spelling of the cab’s brand name; the strong reputations of these three companies have led numerous less reliable competitors to use very similar names and color schemes to those of the companies listed in an attempt to convince customers that they are using one of the more reputable companies. Avoid taxis with Taxi du Lich branding; these taxis specifically target tourists for higher fares.
 
Avoid motorbike taxis due to safety risks and the increased risk of being scammed. Avoid using bicycle pedicabs (cyclos) in Vietnam. Foreign visitors have been taken to side streets where they have been robbed by the driver or his associates. Drivers have also been reported to work in collusion with thieves on motorcycles.
 
Buses from reputable companies can provide inexpensive and relatively secure transportation between Can Tho and Ho Chi Minh City. Buses from less reputable companies may be unsafe and prone to scams.City buses in Vietnam are crowded, slow, and unreliable. Tourist intercity buses are generally more comfortable, although foreigners may be charged more than locals.
Local buses are crowded, stop at every cluster of homes, and are prone to breakdowns. They rarely travel faster than 25 kph (15.5 mph). Express buses, averaging 35 kph (22 mph), are considered fast. Traveling by bus on the main roads between Ho Chi Minh City and Hue and between Vinh and Hanoi is quicker and more comfortable than taking the train. Tourist minibuses are more comfortable and link most tourist destinations. Foreigners are often perceived as wealthy in Vietnam; consequently, they are often charged twice the local fare for bus tickets.
Caution should be used on buses, as they are often overcrowded and poorly maintained, especially in rural areas. Explosives and chemicals used in fishing, farming, and construction are sometimes carried on buses, increasing the risk of injury in accidents, which occur regularly.
  
Multiple companies operate buses between Can Tho and Ho Chi Minh City. Buses are less secure than taxis, and bus drivers may attempt to scam passengers or participate in larger scams. One notable scam involves the driver announcing “Can Tho” in English at a stop, prompting all Western tourists to get off the bus. The stop is in fact well outside the city, with unofficial taxi drivers crowded around the stop charging exorbitant fares to take travelers into Can Tho proper.
The reputable Mai Linh taxi company also operates bus services to Can Tho; this service is generally safe and friendly to travelers.

Rail transportation to Can Tho is not available. Local train service is available to Ho Chi Minh City from Nha Trang, Qui Nhon, and Hu. Long-distance train travel is generally slow. The trip between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi takes at least 40 hours. Accommodations range from hard seats to super berths with air-conditioning. The hard-seat, least-expensive class is not recommended for any but the shortest trips. Foreigners need to pay a surcharge on all train tickets. Retain your ticket, or you may be charged again when you disembark. Take snacks and water for the trip; food may be available only at station stops.
Crime is a problem on trains, and foreigners may be specifically targeted. Always lock compartment doors and avoid traveling between cars at night. Avoid traveling alone. Do not accept food or drink from strangers, as criminals sometimes drug such items. 
 
If possible, travel during the day, using the highest class of travel available and the most direct booking. If overnight travel is required, reserve a lockable cabin.
 
Most Vietnamese travel within Vietnam by long-distance bus or train. Both are slow, and safety conditions do not approach U.S. standards. Local buses and taxis are available in some areas, particularly in the larger cities. Safety standards vary depending on the individual company operating the service, but are generally much lower than what exists in the U.S.
 

Traffic & Road Conditions

Traffic in Vietnam is chaotic, and accidents occur frequently. The most common victims are motorbike riders and pedestrians. At least 30 people die each day from transportation-related injuries and many more are injured, often with traumatic head injuries.
 
Driving standards and vehicle and road maintenance are generally poor.
 
Traffic accident injuries are the leading cause of death, significant injury, and emergency evacuation of foreigners in Vietnam. Traffic accidents, including those involving a pedestrian and a motorized vehicle, present the single greatest health and safety risk to U.S. citizens in Vietnam. Exercise extra caution in the countryside, as road conditions are particularly poor in rural areas.
 
The road system throughout Vietnam is underdeveloped, and traffic rules are widely ignored. The lack of open sidewalks and adequate traffic controls creates a precarious situation for all pedestrians and motorists. It is not uncommon for visitors/residents to be involved in some type of road incident while attempting to cross one of the many motorcycle-clogged streets in Vietnam.  
Sexual Assault and Resources

Information regarding sexual violence in Vietnam is limited, but the information that is available indicates that the rate of sexual violence in the country is high. Discussing sexual assault and violence is generally considered taboo in Vietnam, and efforts to research the issue and extend help to victims have only yielded limited success.

The perceived rate of sexual violence by domestic partners and intimate partner violence in Vietnam is markedly high. Women appear to be highly reluctant to discuss such matters, and many international organizations have gone to extensive lengths to encourage victimized women to seek help. With many sociocultural dynamics affecting victimization and recovery, most resources for victims of sexual violence or assault are generally found among UN-sponsored aid organizations or with private healthcare facilities. One resource located in Hanoi may be of assistance, and may be reached at: Research Center for Family Health and Community Development (CEFACOM), www.cefacom.org.vn, casp@fpt.vn, No. 12 Lane 131/31, Thai Ha Street
Phone: 84-0-537-5700, Fax: 84-0-537-2258

Additionally, online support is available from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) at:
http://www.rainn.org/rccs.html

Natural Disasters
Be aware of massive street flooding that commonly occurs in many of the cities during the rainy season. Many city streets are not equipped with the proper sewage systems needed for draining the large amount of rainfall that occurs in a short amount of time. This inordinate amount of rainfall often overwhelms the capacity of the existing infrastructure, causing flooding that makes navigating the streets difficult.  
UCEAP Contingency Planning
 
Fire Safety
Basic fire safety precautions in buildings are often lacking. Some large commercial buildings have some form of smoke or heat detection systems. Many hotels have only aa single means of egress, no alarm or early warning system of any type and poor smoke-stopping between rooms and egress stairs. Buildings often do not have the required fire safety features and adequate means of escape. Be aware of all possible exits in every building. Make sure all smoke detectors are in working order.
 
 
Speech
The Government of Vietnam maintains strict control over all forms of political speech, particularly dissent. Persons -- both Vietnamese and visiting foreigners -- engaging in public actions that the Government of Vietnam determines to be political in nature are subject to arrest and detention. Even your private conversations can lead to legal actions. U.S. citizens have been detained and arrested for political activities (including criticizing the government or its domestic/foreign policies or advocating alternatives to Communist Party rule), possession of political material, and non-sanctioned religious activities (including proselytizing). U.S. citizens whose stated purpose of travel was tourism but who engaged in religious proselytizing have had religious materials confiscated and have been expelled from Vietnam. Sponsors of small, informal religious gatherings, such as Bible-study groups in hotel rooms, have been detained, fined, and expelled, although these outcomes have become less common because of improvements to religious freedom.
 
Blogging about the Vietnamese government and discussions in on-line chat rooms have also incurred scrutiny from authorities. The distribution of anti-Vietnamese propaganda is considered to be a terrorist offense by Vietnamese authorities. In most cases individuals are detained, questioned, and then released. In the past few years, many U.S. citizens were arrested, prevented from leaving Vietnam, and/or deported.

 

Association with Groups

Persons whom the Government of Vietnam perceives to be associated with dissident political groups may be denied entry to Vietnam or prevented from departing Vietnam after a visit. In a number of cases, Vietnamese officials have confiscated the plane tickets and personal property of such individuals, who were then forced to spend extended periods in Vietnam at their own expense while they underwent extensive police interrogation. In addition, Vietnamese security personnel may place foreign visitors under surveillance. Vietnamese officials may monitor your hotel room, telephone conversations, fax transmissions, and e-mail and may search your personal possessions in your hotel room.
 
 Local security officials have called in some U.S. citizen travelers of Vietnamese origin for "discussions" not related to any suspected or alleged violation of law. Occasionally these "discussions" have resulted in the traveler being detained for several days before being allowed to depart Vietnam.
 
In An Emergency
 
If you are abroad
 
Carry the local emergency contact information at all times:
 
Ambulance ......... 115
Fire .................... 114
Police ..................113
 
Emergency operators may not speak English. During an emergency, seek assistance from the Study Center and the U.S. embassy.
 
 
U.S. Consulate in ​Ho Chi Minh City:
 
American Citizen Services
4 Le Duan Blvd.
District 1
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
 
Phone: (84-8) 3520-4200
Fax: (84-8) 3520-4244  
 
Regular Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 8:30–11:30 a.m
After-Hours Emergencies: (84-4) 3850-5000
 
 
The University of California, in accordance with applicable Federal and State law and University policy, does not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, pregnancy,* disability, age, medical condition (cancer-related), ancestry, marital status, citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era veteran or special disabled veteran. The University also prohibits sexual harassment. This nondiscrimination policy covers admission, access, and treatment in University programs and activities. Inquiries regarding the University’s student-related nondiscrimination policies may be directed to the campus Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action office.

* Pregnancy includes pregnancy, childbirth, and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.