Professor Mark Norrell shared the benefits he sees by studying abroad in Vietnam. O’Neill’s programs study healthcare in the country, and include stays in Hanoi, Mai Chau, Tam Coc, and Hue.
Interested in studying abroad this summer? Applications are due Jan 27.
What makes the Vietnam summer program special?
NORELL: The Vietnam program is O’Neill’s only overseas experience that focuses exclusively on healthcare policy as its central theme. We arranged classroom sessions to be led by Vietnamese healthcare universities, government healthcare officials, nonprofit organizations and private healthcaredevelopment agencies who are addressing their country’s healthcare challenges. Although Vietnam is considered an economically developing nation, many of Vietnam’s healthcare delivery challenges are comparable to our own healthcare delivery problems in the United States. Faculty of the Traditional Medicine Department, Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy Vietnam was selected because it offers students a remarkably different living experience compared to traditional overseas study locations in Europe. The Vietnamese people are known for their openness and friendliness, often engaging with Americans in public. Vietnam only recently “opened” to foreigners. Thus, young Vietnamese citizens often approach us on the streets and in restaurants, hoping to practice their English and make friends with Americans.
Vietnam is particularly special because it is considered the top foodie destination in the world. The late Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef, author, and travel documentarian, cited Vietnam as the top country for unbelievably delicious (and inexpensive) street food. Your sense of culinary adventure will be rewarded. Don’t tell the Dean’s Office, but my love of Vietnamese food was my “secret” reason for starting this program!
Lastly, the Vietnam summer program will award two outstanding participants an opportunity to remain in Vietnam to complete their six-week O’Neill internship. KPMG, an international consulting group with offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, has committed to take on two O’Neill students as summer interns after our scheduled program ends.
Why should students study abroad?
NORELL: Life moves fast. As a college student, you may be anxious to graduate and begin your professional career, gaining personal and financial freedom. While it’s true you will soon have greater personal and financial freedom, the reality is that aspiring young professionals will soon find themselves overcome by the demands of their new professional titles, with zero time to carve out for exploring the world. And before you know it, you’ve got a mortgage and a growing family that requires your full attention. Of course, it’s wonderful to experience and appreciate other cultures at any stage of your life… but consider that now is the perfect time.
What types of students should apply to study abroad in Vietnam
NORELL: Ideally, this program is targeted to students majoring in Healthcare Management and Policy at O’Neill. But I would encourage O’Neill students in other public affairs majors, with an interest in working in the healthcare sector, to consider applying for the program.
What is your favorite part of running international programs?
NORELL: This summer’s Vietnam program will be the first time offered. I’m optimistic about the program… but check back with me afterward for my assessment. Right now, I look forward to hosting our pre-trip orientation sessions, where we will discuss travel considerations, like navigating Vietnamese street traffic, food recommendations and important cultural norms.
What is one fun fact about yourself?
NORELL: Growing up on Siesta Key, on the Florida Gulf Coast, I was out on the water with my friends every day – skiing, fishing, beaching, snorkeling, diving, and sailing. Of course, seafood was a big part of our lives. We’d get a big gunny sack of oysters and open and eat them on our dock. We’d just toss the shells into the canal. In eleventh grade, my buddies entered me into an oyster eating contest at Walt’s Fish Market in Sarasota. Out of 50 entrants from all over the country, I came in third place, having eaten 26 dozen oysters. The winner was a guy named Vernon Bass, who doubled up on everyone else, eating 49 dozen oysters in 17 minutes. Vernon Bass is still the official Guinness Book of World Records holder for the accomplishment. After the oyster-eating contest, my buddies and I went to Dairy Queen, where I downed a banana split.