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Positive things about Vietnam
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TheRedDeluge



Joined: 09 Mar 2012
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:48 pm    Post subject: Positive things about Vietnam Reply with quote

I feel like the people who post things anywhere online are more likely to say something bad than something good. So I was hoping to hear some positive things about teaching and living in Vietnam. I think it is important to hear all of the negative perspectives and I think it helps those of us who have never been there, but I would love to hear why you stay even though there are many challenges.

Thanks everyone.
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LettersAthruZ



Joined: 25 Apr 2010
Posts: 458
Location: North Viet Nam

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 7:58 am    Post subject: Re: Positive things about Vietnam Reply with quote

I can work for myself and I do not have to worry about a successful business model being destroyed by excessive Government regulation, as it is almost impossible to work for one's self currently in my Tây homeland.... Very Happy
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 293

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are many positives here.

I think the bad sides tend to surface more here for a variety of reasons. One thing I always try to do when replying to posts is to emphasise likely problems so as to forewarn and forearm the serious while deterring those less serious.

The last thing Vietnam needs is an influx of starry eyed newbies who expect it to be a cakewalk only to crash and burn after the first broken contract or other sign of trouble.

I think for those who make the effort and take the time Vietnam can provide one of the better all round TEFL lifestyles.

It may not be the most professional of work environments but honestly where is?

Positives.

The women are attractive. (I'm married and not in the game any more but it's nice to see attractive women around).
The food isn't bad overall. Better than Korea. More affordable than Japan.
Rent can be cheap for what you get - but you have to negotiate non-Tay prices.
Cost of living can be very low if you don't have expensive tastes. The lack of consumer goods is at times a nuisance but in the end keeps costs down.
You can get clothes made to measure cheaply and well.
The beer is very cheap (but not great).

However - most of the positives are not readily available in the first 3-6 months. It helps to marry a local if you want cheap rent and local prices - something not everyone wants to do and you have to meet one you like and trust of course.
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 758

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:13 am    Post subject: it is a natural thing Reply with quote

I think for many people, our nature is to find the problems and try to fix them. So it is a natural tendency. Similar to teaching. Yeah, we can talk about how great a student has done, and should, but we have to focus on the mistakes and try to fix those, adding to the list of things we do not have to worry about. We keep trying to reach a higher level by eliminating the errors or problems.

Having read and contributed to this board for a couple of years, and being an optimist by nature, I do not think the negatives are overemphasized. Looking at the people I have seen trying to teach here over the years, I have to question what percentage of those folks really thought that it ended up being a positive experience for them. Yeah, due to the financial problems in the west, I guess we can say that it takes an ever lower level of income and survival to qualify as a success, as time goes on, but honestly, I think the majority of folks who try this are either a mess to begin with, or find themselves crashing on the rocks for various reasons. 50%, 60%, 70%, who knows? Based on the turnover in jobs, the short time of the average stay, and the very low return figures for tourism, many intelligent observers would conclude that the experience is negative for many or most. One can also then discuss the nature of some of the folks coming over, certainly if your goal is cheap booze, cheat "entertainment" and low expectations for the work, lots of those folks might consider work and life here a success.

I do think that anyone who seriously researches this site (as opposed to just asking his/her question without taking the time to study what is already here) can pretty easily get a good picture of what work and life here is like. It is not a big secret. He can also see which posters delight in baiting others, self aggrandizement, or misleading the readers. We have folks who come on and just repeat a one word mantra, obviously that kind of contribution does not add a lot of enlightenment and might be discounted as meaningless. But we have had many posters who clearly love the nation, the work (when it works, which is rarely) and the people, who do their best not to be drawn into the petty carping, and yet are quite open about the realities of life here. Those posters should be listened to most closely. Unfortunately, many of our best contributors have quit posting due to the tendency to insult each other that so many posters have displayed over the years.

I would disagree just a bit about needing starry eyed newbies. As chaotic as it all is, and with the addition of non native English speakers as English "teachers" that we are now getting, I don't think it really matters for the industry too much who or what comes over to try their hand. It does not really matter to me. I feel the industry is shaking out to some more definable groupings than in the past, and the hiring managers may be able to finally understand just a bit about who is who. I also think that many of them really want these lowest level workers (you can use the term "teachers" if you prefer), for various reasons. Cost, appearance, gullibility and ability to be controlled (manipulated) would be the obvious ones. Starry eyed newbies most welcome to apply. Serious teachers are not even being considered for a lot of those jobs. If you are at the higher levels, don't expect to be contacted if you drop off a resume to that kind of employer, they can see in one glance you are not what they want.

This can be a great life for folks who have money and are just paying for expenses and understand how to get the good out of this deal. For westerners who expect this to boost their financial profiles, the chances of that are not so high. To really enjoy this place, we spend about as much as we earn, or most of us do.
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TRH



Joined: 27 Oct 2011
Posts: 177
Location: HCMC

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:42 am    Post subject: Re: it is a natural thing Reply with quote

mark_in_saigon wrote:
He can also see which posters delight in baiting others, self aggrandizement, or misleading the readers. We have folks who come on and just repeat a one word mantra, obviously that kind of contribution does not add a lot of enlightenment and might be discounted as meaningless. But we have had many posters who clearly love the nation, the work (when it works, which is rarely) and the people, who do their best not to be drawn into the petty carping, and yet are quite open about the realities of life here. Those posters should be listened to most closely. Unfortunately, many of our best contributors have quit posting due to the tendency to insult each other that so many posters have displayed over the years.
Thanks for saying this. As you know from the PM we exchanged, I have had times when I intended to post a comment only to find the thread locked because of argumentative off-topic posts. It's frustrating especially when a thread has had some interesting comments prior to the argument starting and you are hoping that a solution or at least a good explanation will be forthcoming. Sometimes you just have to separate the chaff from the wheat (or the rice from the bran.)

Of course this is not meant to be a criticism of the moderation. It is a criticism of those who make the hostile posts that do not contribute to the topic.
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 758

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I agree. Like our very interesting discussion you and I are having about a particular word. If we posted about it on the threads, we would again get into the pettiness that some of us delight in. Instead we are considering the subject from an historical and grammatical perspective, and both learning new insights about language, our nations and our cultures. Unfortunately, we cannot share this with the thread, as the online community is no longer collegial nor an intellectual commons. Still, it has been very nice to share time and thoughts with many of you. I have enjoyed meeting quite a few of our guys, and would encourage our former posters who gave up on it to come back and try again.

Well, the topic is positives. Hope we can all work together to try to make this great site a positive experience for all the serious users. I cannot think of any site that has more important info relating to the western expat working in VN, and I hope we can all work towards that as a goal for being on the site.
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sigmoid



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 1001

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Almost all of these positives mostly apply to southern VN (Sai Gon/HCMC)

1) Well, you said you’re in the States, but not which state. You may very well be experiencing the start of winter. How about some nice hot tropical weather complete with palm trees or in other words, “Endless summer”.

2) Some of the food really is fantastic, both VNese and western.

3) Some of the women are attractive as mentioned above, but mostly if you’re into petite nerdy girls with glasses.

4) Ao Dai rocks!

5) In my experience, VN students are pretty sharp.

OK, that's about it Laughing at least for now...

The list of positives in VN used to be much longer:

booming economy, truly low cost of living (not sure if it applies now), easy work, easy money, easy visas, no talk of work permits, taxes or criminal background checks, semi-normal traffic (used to be actually fun to get around town on a motorbike), etc, but those days are gone...

Quote:
...but I would love to hear why you stay even though there are many challenges.


I should mention I left over 2 years ago. Very Happy
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I'm With Stupid



Joined: 03 Sep 2010
Posts: 366

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sigmoid wrote:
5) In my experience, VN students are pretty sharp.


Unless you ask them a geography question. "What's this country teacher?" "That's Thailand." And that was an adult class. They also failed to recognise the USA and Japan from a map.

I'd say don't underestimate the weather. It's amazing how much of your general mood can be linked to how nice the weather is, and at least in the South, I find it pretty pleasant all year round. There was a few weeks this month where it wouldn't stop raining, but other than that, it's great.

I also think the teaching industry has something to offer everyone from the backpacker teacher to someone learning to teach, to someone with a DELTA or master's degree.

And on the "attractive women" point, I'd say that just as important as that is that there's very little stigma attached to locals and westerners hanging out. I went on holiday in South Thailand and we got chatting to a couple of girls and invited them to sit on our table. In about an hour of chatting, they must've had 3 nasty comments directed at them and many more disapproving looks (including from the very person who asked us to sit together to free up a table in the bar). I couldn't live in a country where even hanging out with female friends would be taboo.
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Dekadan



Joined: 09 Dec 2011
Posts: 93

PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm no longer in the south of Viet Nam, but I miss a number of things from it:

1) The weather. I'm bracing for winter and already find the long nights to be grinding me down. Constant 12 hours of sun, every day going up into the 30s for temperature? Perfect.

2) The women, especially when wearing the Ao Dai, are stunning. And they dig western men. In the first month of my stay there, I was told I was handsome more times than in my 30 years of previous living. Sure, some of them were probably looking at how marrying me would improve their lot in life, but you can usually tell when there's genuine attraction involved.

3) The standard of living. When I left I was making comparable money to what I'm making now in the West. However, here I'm struggling to get ahead, while back in Viet Nam I was eating out more often than not and eating delicious food. If I wanted to travel, I could afford to. Yet I was still saving money too!

But ultimately, the crowds, traffic and pollution were too much. The schools I worked for weren't the highest for professionalism either. I needed a change. Perhaps one day I'll return to a smaller town, but for now it's advancing my education and abilities.
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EFLeducator



Joined: 16 Dec 2011
Posts: 595
Location: NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A lot of "teachers" were able to work without a visa. And they did not have to be very professional either.

HCMC will hire anyone.
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 758

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Friend, you state you are planning on working elsewhere. Would it not be a better investment of your time to focus on your future? Dave's has both those locations covered, and I am sure they eagerly await your positive contribution.

Just to clarify for anyone who may be confused, HCMC does not hire the teachers, the schools hire the teachers. While it is true (and obvious) there are some less serious and somewhat unqualified individuals trying to teach here, better teachers who are serious about their work can end up with better outcomes. It does take some time, don't expect to find it in the first month or even the first year. But the average less qualified "teacher" indeed only lasts about 3 months on any one job, and maybe six months in the country. Thanks for confirming these points, and sharing your experience with the group, hope you have better luck in your next destination.
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Jbhughes



Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Posts: 254

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In addition, no-one is here without a visa. IF there is one thing you do need, it's a visa. Anyone reading this shouldn't be misled by ESLEducator's comment regarding visas.
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EFLeducator



Joined: 16 Dec 2011
Posts: 595
Location: NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jbhughes wrote:
In addition, no-one is here without a visa. IF there is one thing you do need, it's a visa. Anyone reading this shouldn't be misled by ESLEducator's comment regarding visas.


Fair enough amigo. I'm not saying EVERYONE is without a work visa but EVERYONE I knew over there had no work visa yet had good jobs and bank accounts.

It seems like a LOT of places in HCMC will hire people without a visa and without qualifications. You're a native speaker?! Come right on in. Sad but true. There's a LOT of that going on in HCMC.
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EFLeducator



Joined: 16 Dec 2011
Posts: 595
Location: NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mark_in_saigon wrote:
The average less qualified "teacher" indeed only lasts about 3 months on any one job, and maybe six months in the country.


I know a person who has been there for about three months now with no work visa. Yet he has a bank account and a good paying job. You're saying he will be out of the country in three more months? I have my doubts. He's having too much fun over there. Cool
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 758

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are not understanding the difference between a work permit and a visa, and as you have left VN, maybe you do not need to learn these finer points. It would be good for you to learn what average means, that can help you anywhere. So if average is 6 months, say you made it 3 months, someone else left in 9 months, add your totals, divide by 2, you have an AVERAGE. Of course, you have to then make the mental leap and understand that we are talking about thousands of people who are attempting to teach to reach this average. I understand you are almost PhD level with English, nice work on that, you might take a bit of time and bone up on your math as well, it will help you in life wherever you go.

We do thank you for the great contributions you made to the VN scene, and the VN threads. I am sure the Korea/Japan guys are eager for you to move over to your new home.
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