Some of our favorite things about Vietnamese culture you might not know
As ESL teachers, we come from a wide variety of countries, but all located in the western world. These cultures contrast with those you find in South East Asia, such as Thailand and Vietnam.
These cultural differences are unique learning opportunities that broaden one's horizon and understanding of how people live their lives around the world. We have made a list of our favorite Vietnamese cultures and customs. Keep in mind that customs and cultures are very dependent on people and regions so not every custom mentioned here might apply to the people you know.
· Optimism and positivity
Vietnamese are inherently optimistic and positive. You can experience this every day when working with Vietnamese colleagues. This has some relation to the understanding that community is more important than the individual. Family is the most important part of life and when the family is doing well, then each member of the family is doing well.
This mindset and belief system is very infectious and brings a great contrast from the Western mindset of work and career. In general, you can say that most Vietnamese don’t experience stress, or at least not in the same way as Westerners do.
· Family is everything
In great contrast to Western cultures, the family is the most important part of an individual's life. It’s quite normal for multiple generations of a family to live together. This is very apparent in smaller cities and the countryside, however, even in big cities, you’ll find that multiple generations live in the same building or very close.
When kids grow up, they tend to stay in their parents' house until they get married. Moreover, it’s not uncommon for a newlywed couple to live in the house of one of the families for some time.
· Ghosts are real and other superstitions
Vietnam is a very spiritual country with many ancient beliefs and customs. Ancestors play an important role in everyday family life here and this goes hand in hand with the belief of ghosts and the supernatural. When people die, they go up to heaven, however, if this spirit lingers than he/she can become a ghost. Many Vietnamese have stories of seeing ghosts, experiencing the supernatural or hearing strange noises that relate to spirits in some kind of way. When in Vietnam, don’t ridicule those stories and the beliefs certain people uphold.
· Education is the end-goal
Now that Vietnam is developing, education is at the forefront of everyday life. Those that achieve high levels of education and academic success are revered by others. Almost every family will spend vast amounts of money to send their kids to English language centers, hoping that this will lead to an international career for them.