Cecilia Olsson, Biomedical Laboratory Science Clinical Physiology, Minor Field Studies, Vietnam

I have always wanted to study abroad and me and my classmate Emma had decided to write our thesis together and applied for exchange studies. We became accepted but for different reasons the exchange could not be accomplished. Instead we got told that there were some MFS scholarships still available. We had heard about the program before and it sounded very interesting so we decided to apply. Since our department had a collaboration with Da Nang University of Medical Technology and Pharmacy in Vietnam, we were suggested to write our thesis there due to the limited time but Vietnam also sounded very interesting. Vietnam has experienced great economic growth in recent years but has also had an increase in risk factors connected to cardiovascular diseases. Unlike Sweden, Vietnam does not have a national screening program for abdominal aortic aneurysm. Our purpose was to examine the interobserver variability when measuring the abdominal aorta with ultrasound since the method is very dependent on the observer. We applied in November 2017, our application was approved in December and the 26 of March 2018 we left for Da Nang.

The Dragon bridge in Danang. The dragon breathes fire every sunday night! 

The staff and students at the University were fantastic, very friendly and helpful. A teacher from the University met us at the airport and since we would miss our last exam in Sweden, he arranged so that we could write the exam at the university in Da Nang instead. Prior to our collection of data, we had a meeting with our Vietnamese supervisor at the University to go through the day. We went to the examination room and tested the machine that we were going to use. On the day Emma and I measured the abdominal aorta with ultrasound on students and our supervisor in helped us get started. It was a fun day but difficult and without her the process would have been even more challenging. After the collection we spent a lot of time at different cafes around Da Nang to compile our data and write on our essay. On weekends we went to the beach or made small day trips to places nearby. We went to Lady Buddha, climbed the stairs to the top of Marble mountains and took a Grab to the cosy old town of Hoi An. We also went on a diving trip outside of Hoi An where we saw clownfish, lionfish and nudibranchs amongst others. One weekend we did a little longer trip and we took the flight to the island Phu Quoc were we stayed three nights and experienced the awesome night market and Sao beach. On the way back to Da Nang we stayed one night in Ho Chi Minh city, a large city in the south of Vietnam previously called Saigon.

My Khe Beach, Danang

We booked all our accommodation online and had only two weeks booked at a hostel when we first arrived. It is so hard to know before the distances and places beforehand but we decided to continue to only book two weeks each time to experience more of the city and see different areas. The accommodation has become more expensive in recent years but is still very affordable and we never had a bad room, the beds are really hard though! The food in Da Nang is amazing and very cheap (depending on where you eat). A lunch could cost anything from around 35 000 Vietnamese dong (13 Swedish krona) and dinner around 110 000 dong (42 SEK).

Old town, Hoi An

After eight weeks in Vietnam, Da Nang really felt like home and I really hope to go back one day. Of course you felt homesick sometimes but the time went by so fast and I am truly thankful for the experience. I have learnt a great deal regarding our subject and field but also about University education in Vietnam. Learnt how to live in a new country with a new culture and I have a greater understanding that everything does not work like it does at home, Swedes do really know how to que, but I became very comfortable with the way of life there. The application process for MFS can be really challenging and stressful since the project plan needs to be done during other courses but for me it was all worth it in the end. The motto “Everything will work out” became the truth during our trip.