A Day in the Life in Vinh City, Vietnam

In this post from API’s “Teacher Connections” series, Emily A., a recent teacher in Vietnam, shares some details about a typical day abroad.

7:20 am – My alarm sounds and I hop out of bed to get ready for the day. Luckily getting ready is much quicker in Vietnam than in America. It is very hot and humid here, so I typically don’t wear makeup, throw my hair up in a ponytail, brush my teeth, put on light clothing, and I’m out the door. I jump on my bike and head to ASEM Campus 2, about a 10-minute bike ride from our apartment at ASEM Campus 3. Traffic in Vietnam is wild because there are no traffic rules. I always feel like I am in a videogame, constantly avoiding obstacles, as I navigate the streets!

8:00am – Shift 1 begins. I teach a class of beginner university students, many who are the same age as I am or older. They are energetic and eager to learn English. The class lasts two-and-a-half hours, but between the listening, speaking, reading, and writing activities, it goes by pretty quickly. There is a 15-minute break halfway through the shift, when I usually eat an apple as my breakfast and chat with the other teachers.

10:30am – Shift 1 ends and I hop back on my bike and head back to the apartment. I take a quick nap and check my emails.

11:30am – Lunch time! I typically eat lunch with the other foreign teachers. As a vegetarian, it can be pretty difficult to find food I can eat at restaurants. Vegetarianism is not very popular in Vinh and most adults do not know enough English to understand when I tell them I’m vegetarian. “tôi ăn chay,” (I’m a vegetarian) was one of the first phrases I learned in Vietnamese. My favorite lunch is “bun”. I eat it multiple times a week since it is the most balanced vegetarian meal I can find!

Vegetarian Bun - my typical lunch

Vegetarian Bun – my typical lunch

12:30pm – Most of my time in Vinh has been during the “rainy season” of September and October. It’s rained almost every day I’ve been here! On days when it’s raining, the other foreign teachers and I head to a coffee shop and have coffee or smoothies. We hang out there for a few hours, chat, and help each other brainstorm for lessons. Sometimes we go to Big C, the supermarket in town, to do grocery shopping.

If it isn’t raining, we like to take advantage of the sun! After having lived in Arizona and Florida, I love the sun! A hotel in town allows us to use their pool, so I either hang out there for the afternoon or explore around the city! We ride our bikes through the streets and see what we can find. There are always surprises to be found in Vinh. Nothing is ever dull because of the immense cultural differences from America. We check out shops, markets, and parks.


Vinh City Outdoor Market

Vinh City Outdoor Market 

4:30pm – We head back to the apartment and prepare for the evening’s lessons. When the weather is nice, we hang out on our roof. When it’s raining, we hang out in the living room and watch TV together.


View from the rooftop of our apartment

View from the rooftop of our apartment


5:45pm – The bell rings for Shift 4. Luckily I’m at Campus 3 for my classes this evening, so I just take the elevator down to my class. For the next hour-and-a-half I teach preschool students. They are my least favorite age to teach because they are very misbehaved, but it is always exciting and challenging! I teach them many songs, play games with them, and work on their vocabulary.

7:45pm – Shift 5 begins and this time I teach a class of 10-year-old students, my favorite age to teach! They are always excited to learn and incredibly bright. We start the class by talking about our days before jumping into activities. I teach them new vocabulary words, play games with them, have them role-play conversations, and read passages. The class goes by quickly since their energy keeps me going and makes teaching fun!

9:30pm – Classes are done for the day, and I’m exhausted…and hungry! We have a kitchen in our apartment, so I typically cook dinner with my roommates. We all sit around our kitchen table to eat and swap stories about our classes.

11:00pm – After a long day of teaching and navigating the city, I shower and head to bed to watch Netflix or read until I fall asleep. Vinh City is always bustling with activity, and I fall asleep to the sound of trains, motorbike horns, and dogs barking. There is never a dull moment in Vinh City!

Weekend – We have two days off a week – I have Fridays and Saturdays off. I love exploring and typically hop on a motorbike with one of the English teachers to explore places nearby Vinh. Cua Lo Beach is only about 30 minutes from the city and is a fantastic place to spend a Saturday. The beach is lined with restaurants and shops. During the summer months, it’s a very popular and exciting place to be!


Cua Lo Beach

Cua Lo Beach

The countryside near Vinh City is also beautiful to explore. We ride around on the motorbike and see what interesting things we can find! There are many rice paddy fields and farm animals to see nearby.


Sights in rural Vietnam near Vinh City

Sights in rural Vietnam near Vinh City  

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