As part of our MSc Management electives offering, we had the opportunity to sign-up for the Study Tour module – with destination Ho-Chi Minh City (HCMC) this year. At the beginning of the Easter break 24 students from my programme and myself travelled to Vietnam and spent one entire week there. I have never been to Vietnam before and was overwhelmed by the busy, restless and dazzling daily life and the hazardous traffic – as a non-local it is quite a challenge to cross the pedestrian crossing and to avoid the flocks of mopeds.
After a couple of days, I managed to adapt to the permanent chaos and the heat and I started to see the exceptionalism and fascination of this fast moving city. Ho-Chi Minh – or originally Saigon – is the most remarkable city in Vietnam’s recent rise as an emerging economy and manufacturing hub.
To get an impression of the fast-moving developments in HCMC’s business landscape, we got the chance to visit several companies – from start-ups and social enterprises to big corporates such as Bosch or Intel. Especially the visit to the clothes manufacturing factory Esquel provided us with a unique insight into the world of textile manufacturing. It was very interesting to actually walk the floor of the factory and see first-hand which mechanical as well as manual production processes lie behind the production of Zara and Tommy Hilfiger Polo shirts and the likes.
Another memorable company visit was the one to Maison Marou – a Vietnamese-based chocolate producer/café, originating from France. As we took a guided tour through the chocolate factory and listened to a presentation, we indulged in hot chocolate and sweets.
In addition to the company visits, we had the opportunity to engage in cultural and sightseeing activities. One of the most memorable activities was our trip to the Củ Chi tunnels, which were vital in defending the Americans during the Vietnam war. The adventurous among us even crawled through the tunnels and experienced automatic shooting trials.
Furthermore, a veteran, who has been serving during the Vietnam war, was telling us about his war experiences. His answer to a student’s question whether he has forgiven the Americans was quite touching and blunt. He would reply that it is difficult for him to forgive but he hopes that one day the youngsters would be able to sit around a table having fun talks instead of going through what he had been through – meeting in the battlefield.
All in all, we surely returned to the UK with many new impressions and inputs, fresh experiences – and hopefully plenty of ideas and inspiration for our assignment for the International Study Tour module