5 positive things that expats single out about Vietnam
There are many things that are different between East and West. Values and standards vary immensely. Whilst things are not always perfect in Vietnam, there are many things in which they excel. When asked which things they value about life in Vietnam, expats often come up with similar answers. Here are five of the most common things, that expats in general feel is better in Vietnam than in the Western World. It is by no means a comprehensive list, but it is a remarkable insight into the way of life in this fascinating Southeast Asian country.
In Vietnam family values are far better than they are in the West. It starts right from birth. When a new baby comes into the world, it is a time for all the family to get involved. Very few young women struggles to care alone. The baby’s grandmother for sure, will take an equal, if not larger share of the caring duties. Uncles and grandfathers often move in with the mother, if they are not already living in the same house that is, and take care of the baby as well. This breeds a love of the family unit that is carried right through until old age. Care of the elderly in Vietnam is admirably done by the families. No old person is pushed into an old folks home to die of boredom, as is often the case in many so called civilised countries. Old people live with young families, this surely keeps them young, happy and contented for the rest of their days. Most family homes consist of three or four generations, living happily together. Everyone contributes and everyone shares responsibility.
It goes beyond this as well, brothers and sisters will help each other out all the time. If one isn’t working, siblings will buy phones and presents and help them out until they are. These are a people who often have nothing, and will give everything.
Lack of Road Rage
In the West it sometimes seems that road rage is out of control. The internet is full of images of guys “losing it” because someone simply sounded their horn. They would have a lot of angry days in Vietnam, where everyone sounds their horn incessantly. But if someone does make a mistake, and they do it often, nobody gets angry, they just get on with it. Traffic moves a lot slower than in the West. The roads in the cities are chaotic and crowded but you will rarely see two drivers squaring up to each other.
In the West we are told by governments that we have to recycle. Every household has a bin for rubbish, one for glass, one for plastic and one for compost yet we still recycle an alarmingly low percentage of what we use. In Vietnam it is done at a more macro level. Most households do not have a dustin / trashcan at all. They separate everything out in the house and absolutely nothing goes to waste. It is remarkable. People collect plastic, paper, styrofoam, cardboard and any number of things to earn a meagre wage. If you have anything at all that you don’t want in Vietnam, leave it outside for 30 minutes and it will be gone. The Vietnamese are very resilient and very resourceful, they will grind a living out of everything and the result is that there is so little landfill here.
Resilience, Strength & National Pride
Vietnam fought off four different invading forces in the 20th Century. More often than not they did it against overwhelming odds. They even managed to assist Cambodia in ridding itself from the evil grip of Pol Pot. That they have achieved this whilst at the same time remaining a relatively free nation that welcomes foreigners into its midst is a testament to their strength of character. Vietnam is a fabulous country populated by a warm hearted people who welcome foreign visitors ad still somehow mange to trust them. In Vietnam the people are fiercely proud of their country and their country men and women. It’s a fine line but quite often nation pride crosses over into a more negative type of nationalism, the Vietnamese manage to stay on the right side of that line. At Tet or on Independence day the flags come out everywhere. All the taxis have flags flying, most household will hang out the national flag and even those in high rise apartments will have the yellow star flying from their balconies. It makes for an impressive sight. Many thousands of T shirts bearing the national flag are sold all year round, it is a common sight to see young people sporting one. This never seems to manifest itself in the uglier side of human nature. They are not saying we are better than you, they are simply saying we are proud to be Vietnamese.
Respect for Teachers
Ask any teacher who comes to work here from the West and the first thing they notice is the respect that they receive from their pupils, parents and the community at large. It is sometimes strange that teachers feel undervalued in the West. They are after all behind every doctor, physicist, engineer and even astronaut. Without their education none of these people would ever get to do what they do. Yet, teachers are undervalued in the West and are treated at times in a bad way by their pupils. Some schools in bad areas have shocking reputations of attacks on teachers. In America it is common place to have police officers on permanent duty in schools. This would seem utterly incredible to a Vietnamese person. Teachers are respected, their pupils do what they are asked to do. There is very little bad behaviour from the students and there is even a National Teachers Day where pupils bring gifts to say thanks for their teachers, passing on knowledge to them.