As an experienced traveler, and more specifically, an experienced traveler who has been to Southeast Asia before, I stepped off the plane in Hanoi, Vietnam feeling confident that I was going to have an easy time navigating the capital city. When I woke up the next day, ridden with jet lag, I found myself staring at a never-ending stream of motorbikes thinking that I wouldn’t even be able to cross the street. My confidence quickly crumbled as I watched the motorbikes weaving between buses, cars, and each other. It was only 10:00 AM, but the swampy heat was already making me dizzy. In Hanoi, the worst thing you can do when crossing the street is “chicken out.” The motorbikes expect you to keep moving, so the slightest flinch can lead to a serious accident. I decided that there was only one way I could reach my destination. I took a leap of faith.

It turns out that leaning into the discomfort and learning to “just keep walking” is a lot like studying abroad. There seem to be metaphorical motorbikes racing toward you at any given moment, but with a little bit of trust, eventually, they swerve out of the way and leave you safely stopped on the other side of the street. While in Vietnam, I had amazing experiences ranging from museum hopping in Hanoi to swimming in Ha Long Bay.

One of my favorite experiences was getting to visit FPT University. When we arrived, Vietnamese students were waiting for us, excited to talk with us and show us around. Our tour guide led us around the campus, telling jokes and even straying away from the group to show us the Four Wise Monkeys statue. What stood out the most to me was how similar we all are even though we grew up on other sides of the world. As part of our International Business course, this experience helped me to better understand the Vietnamese markets. Personally, I felt even more connected to my Southeast Asian heritage and excited to be making new friends.

Our time in Vietnam was an excellent start to our Southeast Asia adventure. After conquering the streets of Hanoi, I was compelled to dive into the rest of the trip head first, only briefly stopping to look both ways so as to not be hit by a motorbike.