By Katerina Koukouviki
MSc student, Cultural Heritage Management with Tourism
In the beginning of October, one of our professors at the MSc in Cultural Heritage Management with Tourism, Ullrich Kockel, informed us during his class that there was an opening for an Erasmus+ exchange programme, called “Marco Polo”. One student would be able to attend classes for two weeks at the University of Hanoi in Vietnam (HANU).
I considered it to be a unique opportunity and I immediately started emailing around, to find out more about all the requirements and the procedure in general. I was trying not to get my hopes up at first, as I thought that it was just one opening and I guessed that many other students would have been interested.
Nevertheless, after a few meetings with HWU Marco Polo Coordinator John Cleary and Cultural Studies coordinator Katerina Strani and several emails later, it was confirmed from Vietnam that I was accepted! The University took care of my trip there and I arranged the matter of my VISA (got reimbursed later). I also received a grant for my expenses during my stay there.
By the end of October, I was in Vietnam, where I spent the next two weeks. I explored the vibrant city of Hanoi and I was able to travel around the country as well. Apart from its natural beauty, Vietnam is soaked in history. A millennium under the rule of China, the French colonisation and the Vietnamese war have left their marks that are evident in its cultural heritage.
At the HANU University of Hanoi, I was welcomed by Mrs. Nhai Nguyen, Mr. Ha Pham Viet and the manager of the programme, Prof. Nhat Tuan Nguyen. My classmates were very friendly, and we exchanged our points of view regarding cultural differences, as well as several cultural and heritage-related topics. Their insights helped me understand Vietnamese culture much better.
Here are some interesting facts around student life in Hanoi:
- Classes start at 7.00 in the morning and facilities like the library close after 18.45. Yeap… You might have to say goodbye to 9.15 for a while!
- Students who live in the dorms pay almost £17/month (Monthly average income per capita in an urban area for 2018: £185)  and share the room with another 6, 8 or 10 persons. This would be very difficult for me and I would guess for other Westerners, as I appreciate my privacy.
As a final point, I would like to encourage all students to make the most of their student life and participate in exchange programmes in order to meet new people and places and expand their horizons. My experience was unforgettable!
 General Statistics Office of Vietnam:
11. Health, Culture and Living Standard – Monthly average income per capita at current prices by residence and by region- Urban,2018). Retrieved from: https://www.gso.gov.vn/default_en.aspx?tabid=783