The eye of the mind by tallolaahh

While asking myself where to start respectively what to write about the two-week experience in Hanoi I realized that I ought to begin by stating; No, Hanoi the capital city of the socialist republic of Vietnam is nothing as I imagined.

I doubt that one page could sum up all the self- generated perceptions I had created about the ‘communist’ country that seemed so alien to me and everything I had familiarized myself with. Furthermore I was curious and somewhat hesitant when envisioning our fellow Vietnamese students. How and what would they think of us, behave towards us, talk and moreover study with us? The dorms where another big question mark and it was the first answer I received as we arrived there first thing in the morning. I am not going into my own insecure awkwardness and the anxiety that haunted me prior to the trip. But as some of you remember it was something to Farhang’s that pierced my core and the fact that I did not really know anyone well enough to possibly be sharing a room with that gave me the inner shivers when thinking about participating in this module.


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Vietnam: the gift that keeps on giving by Sofia Chotreva

When I first received an e-mail from my lecturer about a module called “Learning in an International Environment” in Hanoi, I immediately decided to apply and go for an adventure: I can say without a shadow of doubt that it has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my whole life. Now a month has passed since the trip to Vietnam finished and I can still remember clearly all the feelings and the emotions that I experienced whilst visiting this beautiful country.

Since the moment we landed, Vietnam greeted us with an amazing view, right outside of the airport...

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My trip to Vietnam by Inci Stephanie Stoleru

Home. “the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household”. Home represents different things to different people. To me, home is where I grew up. A small town in north-east Romania. While the differences between that small town and Hanoi are great (culturally, geographical, in population, in infrastructure, TRAFFIC etc.), these two locations are also very similar, despite being in different time zones.

I guess my definition of home has changed...

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Hanoi: Reflections by Desiree Buraschi

Since I moved to London one year and a half ago, I’ve decided that I would take any opportunity to travel around the world, no matter how.

My university, which I’m deeply thankful to, gave me the possibility to travel to Vietnam for two weeks for a short-bust module called ” Learning in a international environment”.

Two days before leaving I was wondering how it would be, being on the opposite side of the world with my lecturer and 20 other people whom I barely know. As soon as my fellows and I got there, after twelve-uncomfortable-long hours flight, the sunrise was welcoming us and I couldn’t be more excited.

The University campus was located roughly 25 mins driving from the centre, but the area wasn’t less chaotic. Scooters, cars, bicycles were everywhere at every time. It’s unstoppable. One thing that really touched me is the way people tried to move on, rebuilding something from scratches.

Expectations are always different from reality...

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Remembering Hanoi by Melanie-Dimples Synger


Calling the two weeks I spent in Hanoi, Vietnam good, is a serious understatement. My time spent in Vietnam had been an eye opening and to some degree life changing experience. It has enabled me to view the world in a lens that is so different from my own.

Just thinking about the adventure I embarked on with my fellow students and lecturers, still send shivers down my spine, it was a journey that I can never forget. The beauty of Hanoi, Vietnam, was so astonishing, that the only lenses that could do it justice was our eyes.

It was difficult at first as I only knew a handful of people, so it was my time to really step outside of the box and just go for it. What’s the worst that could happen, right? I can now happily say that this trip turned fellow students, into great friends and without them the memories I have of Hanoi, Vietnam wouldn’t be the same. Everyone really helped shape my experience into the best it could be, and it couldn’t be more thankful. For example, without Keletso, I would have never built up enough courage to get on a motorcycle in the busy Hanoi traffic, weaving between cars, buses, trucks and even people. I’ve got to be honest and say, it was so amazing, I feared for my life a bit but I am so glad and thankful for the opportunity to do it.

I must say, Hanoi was far from what I ever imagined...

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On the Silk Road (4), by Ayub Souza-Ali Jaff

Now take nothing away from Tashkent, it is a beautiful city in it’s own right, but during the trip to Samarkand and Bukhara, I witnessed architectural beauty which quite simply took my breath away. On previous travels I have seen monuments/structures such as the Hagia Sophia, Eifel Tower, Berlin Wall, Burj Khalifa etc. but without a doubt none can compare to the scenery at Registan in Samarkand. To stand in such a historically significant place and just stare in awe at the three different madrasahs was sublime, it was at this point where it really hit me that I was right at the heart of the silk road where historical figures like Marco Polo had conducted their trade. However, Registan was not alone in exuding such historical prominence and mesmerizing its visitors with beautiful architecture, another highlight for me was the Gur-E-Amir mausoleum which was not only stunning from the outside but once you walk inside you encounter the tomb of not only the great ruler Amir Temur but also his sons, grandsons, and mentor.

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Time Travel in Samarkand & Bukhara, by Bekeowei Okoro

One early morning train ride on a Saturday morning brought us to the wonderful ancient city of Samarkand which was eventually followed by a long bus ride to Bukhara that same night. The change in atmosphere is readily apparent in comparison to Tashkent, there’s a lot going on here, a lot has happened here and ultimately even more has yet to happen here, these places have a story to tell and one cannot help but listen.

The energy in Samarkand and Bukhara is intoxicating, from the first step and is at the crossroads of Uzbekistan’s past, present and future all at the same time, all together while having social, political and economical dimensions with regional and international implications. Uzbekistan is forever at the crossroads chasing former glory while forging a new legacy.

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Would I return to Uzbekistan? Yes but in 20 years, by Amy Avent

I have been home from Uzbekistan for a week now, and I am already missing the friendliness of my new friends. Having spent 10 days surrounded by great company, coming home to a small flat with my grandparents and having to serve miserable customers in a supermarket every day is definitely not ideal.

Reflecting on my pre-trip speculations, each of my expectations and presumptions about Uzbekistan were proved wrong in every way possible. The internet created a blurred image of Uzbekistan, painting the country as undeveloped, extremely religious and not really worth visiting, additionally the photographs found on google images are all extremely photoshopped, or government approved so there is very little in the way of reality provided online.

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Words of Solidarity, by Anah Butt

Yes. I can truly say I consider Uzbekistan as a home away from home, due mainly to the people I was surrounded with- not just friends but a family. I’ve never felt so welcomed and comfortable as quickly as I did here- and its easy to say this wont be the last time i’m in the breathtakingly beautiful country of Uzbekistan. 

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Wandering Hijazi, by Sara Kulsoom

Yesterday I was doubtful.  Today I am grateful. As for tomorrow I am hopeful. 

I was doubtful because of the negative image many people painted of Uzbekistan, whether it be people I knew personally or some blogs and articles I read online. There were various accusations and speculations that were being thrown around in the hopes to stop me from going by friends and family as they ‘feared for my safety.’ Unfortunately for them it did not work and the only thing I was scared of in the end was how I was going to cope in 40 degrees Celsius. That is not to say I didn’t have my doubts, for instance we were told before setting off that we must not openly discuss politics there which was an absurd thing to ask from an International Relations student. This led me to have many questions regarding what would happen if I did and whats happened to those that have. That is not to say I didn’t discuss politics at all, I just did so whilst being careful of my surroundings. I also had my doubts regarding the way in which the locals would receive such a diverse group of individuals or even how we would react to the different culture and customs.

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Eyeopening and Unforgettable, by Jenna Hardwick

Well, there it was gone. I’m currently sat on the first of two planes on my way home to London, after an amazing 10 days in Uzbekistan. There are not enough words to describe the experiences and beauty of this country but I’m going to give it a go, but first I’m going to quickly reflect on the last day.

So yesterday we spent the morning at the local bazaar, where we bought all sorts from traditional jackets, ceramics and pictures to carpets and instruments! As soon as we arrived at the markets it was clear to see the culture of Uzbekistan spilling over, from stool owners trying to sell you various antiques to learning how to haggle on prices, although as obvious visitors to the country, we didn’t always get it as cheap as some of the WIUT students, so they soon offered their help to us. The afternoon was spent in the University and involved a closing ceremony, where we all received our certificates and had the chance to feedback on our experience of the Summer School. After that we spent the rest of the evening eating more Palov and socialising, before saying our final goodbyes and heading back to the dorms for our final night, ready for a 4am journey to the airport.

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Samarkand, Bukhara and a night train PART 1, by Freedom for the Change

Putting up with the heat has been one of the biggest challenges in Uzbekistan. It is funny that I am saying this having lived nearly all my life in a place where the average temperature in summer was 38 °.

After surviving the weather conditions and getting used to the daily routine of Tashkent, attending conferences in globalization and exchanging different opinions with the Uzbek students at university, it was time for us to travel and visit some of the most culturally interesting cities in Uzbekistan. 

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Development, experiences and reflections..., by Phoebe Siedel

Mixed emotions when travelling to the airport, excited to see another country and experience a different culture but also slightly nervous about travelling, new food, 40° heat and homesickness. At this point reservations and excitement levels were about 50/50. After the two flights we landed in a hot Tashkent, passed immigration and made it to the bus with our luggage to take us to the accommodation. It's always nicer to arrive to a city in daylight so you can see your surroundings and get a snippet of what the place you are staying in looks like. However, after traveling from 2pm the previous day till 7 in the morning the next day, sleeping was more of a priority than sightseeing. Even so, excitement levels by that point had increased significantly to the point that I had forgotten all about previous nerves.

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Cats Are The Same In Uzbekistan, by Elle la Ferrie

The weekend away was brilliant. It is a shame to admit that a few months previously I did not know such cities existed, let alone the ancient history that formed them. It is such a treat to turn every corner and see something you have never experienced before in your life, whilst at the same time being acutely aware that it is unlikely you will see such again in the near future. The train rides were also a highlight for me. Not only were they a good way to see the more rural parts of Uzbekistan, but I can guarantee you the weekend trip, culminated by an overnight sweaty night train home, with four to a cabin and one beer between us all, was a better bonding experience than any ice breaking exercise.

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Life happens around the table, by Victoria Wall

Life happens around the table, by Victoria Wall

Life happens around the table

June 24 by Victoria Wall

This blogpost is a great challenge; how in the world will I be able to do a final reflection of my trip to Uzbekistan in one single blog post!? I am not exaggerating when I say that the trip has been life changing for me. For six years now I have been dreaming about working with International Relations and Development. To see and experience good relationships and unity between states as well as on a local level are the reason behind my interest. My dream and my heart are for a more united world where people fight for understanding and communication, and where promises which are being made also are kept. Yes I am called an idealist, but I am a proud one.