Congratulations on your decision to study abroad in Vietnam!

We have outlined here TEAN’s six easy steps to studying abroad. Your TEAN Program Manager guides you through the entire process, reminding you when and what we need from you as you traverse along the journey to studying abroad. These six steps also include all the vital information you need to know as you prepare for your time abroad. If you can’t find the answers to your questions here, then don’t hesitate to call or email us.

Get Started

Overview

Snapshot

Congratulations! You have applied to a TEAN Vietnam semester or summer program, so you are already one step closer to the best experience of your college life! This section walks you through how to complete your application, pay your deposit, obtain a passport and check that it will be valid for the duration you need, the best ways to contact TEAN and all the important dates to mark down on your calendar now. As usual, if your questions are not answered here, feel free to contact us. Step 1: Get Started explained in 60 seconds.

TEAN Application

Complete your TEAN Application

1. If you haven’t already started your application with TEAN, you will need to visit the apply now page to begin the process. You will be asked to pay a $100 application deposit that is counted toward your total program fees.

2. Once you’ve submitted your application and paid the application deposit, our team will review your application.

3. After your application has been approved by TEAN, you will receive an email from us with information on how to log in to your account and access your application.

4. Now you can start to work on the checklist items listed for your application. You will see a list of things that need to be worked on, including the following:

  • TEAN Applicant Profile
  • Personal Statement
  • Send the TEAN Statement from University electronically to your advisor at your home institution for completion
  • Emergency Contact Info
  • Medical Information
  • Upload your photo. The photo should be like a passport photo (but you can smile) – a headshot, front on, with a white background. This will become your student ID card photo.
  • Upload your passport copy – see the step by step instructions below (let us know if you are renewing your passport).

5. Submit your most recent transcripts

In order for us to fully accept you into the program, we will need to review your official transcripts. For students studying in the Spring semester, we will need transcripts including grades from the previous Spring semester. For Fall students, we require transcripts including grades from the previous Fall semester.

Please request an official copy of your transcripts from all universities attended be sent to our offices at:
The EDUCATION ABROAD Network
505 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 200
Chicago, IL 60654

Program Deposit

Pay your Program Deposit

  • Upon acceptance into the program you will be issued with a $500 program deposit invoice. TEAN cannot make any accommodations or on-site reservations on behalf of a student until the $500 program deposit is received.
  • The program deposit is applied to the total program cost and is not an additional fee.
  • You may submit online credit card payments for your $500 program deposit via our online credit card link.
Withdrawing from the Program

If you withdraw from the program, the $100 application deposit is non-refundable. If you withdraw before the withdrawal deadline, the $500 program deposit is refundable. However, after the deadline (typically 3-4 months before departure), this deposit is non-refundable. Please refer to the program deposit invoice for the specific refund date for your program.

Passport

Apply/Renew Your Passport

Obtaining a passport for international travel may take a considerable period of time as the State Department can often have a backlog of applications to work through. Therefore, it is crucial that you apply for your passport as early as possible to avoid any last minute complications. You can apply for your passport at your local U.S. Post Office.

You can obtain necessary information regarding passports from the U.S. Department of State: Passport Services Department. Download passport applications, nationwide list of passport agencies, etc. here.


Verify Validity of your Passport

As a condition of your student visa, your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months after your anticipated return home. If your current passport is set to expire before then, you will need to renew your passport before studying abroad.


Inform TEAN of your Passport Details

  1. Scan a copy of your passport page with your photo and information on it.
  2. Upload the scanned image to your TEAN application where it states, “Please upload a copy/photo of your passport (signature and picture page only).” Alternatively, email the scanned copy of your passport to your TEAN Program Manager.
  3. Enter your passport information under the section titled, “TEAN Applicant Profile.”

Contacting TEAN

Contacting TEAN

Email is the primary form of communication during the application and enrollment period. Please provide us with an email address you use regularly, as important program announcements and instructions will be sent via email. Also, please check your email on a regular basis and make sure to update your online application if you change your email address. Please periodically check your junk mail to ensure that messages from TEAN are not begin filtered into “spam.” If the messages are stuck in your spam folder, please add the TEAN email to your contacts.

In addition, please be sure to include your full name on all correspondence (including emails). We work with many students, so providing your full name will ensure timely responses to questions and inquiries.

Physical Address

The Education Abroad Network
505 N. LaSalle, Suite 200
Chicago, IL 60654-7093

Telephone and Fax

Toll Free: 1-800-585-9658 (from within U.S.)
Local Number: 1-312-239-3710 (from outside of U.S.)
Fax: 1-312-239-3713

Office Hours

TEAN is open Monday – Thursday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, and Friday from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm Central Standard Time and observes all major holidays. If these hours are not convenient, you may schedule a time outside of our normal business hours to speak with us. If you are currently international, it is possible to set up a time to Skype and get to know your Program Managers.

Important Dates

Important Dates

We finalize our program calendar several months before each semester abroad. During that time, we work with our overseas partner universities in order to determine our orientation schedule. We will provide updated information pertaining to orientation, key semester dates, flights and excursions once our program calendar has been finalized. We will send you an email notification once the updated calendar information has been posted on the website so you can plan accordingly.

Once the program calendar has been finalized, we will post this information on our website and you’ll be notified by your Program Manager. Once the calendar has been released, all dates are still subject to change. While we do not anticipate any date changes once the calendar has been finalized, we reserve the right to make changes, particularly if one of our partner universities institutes their own date modification. All program participants will be contacted in the event of a date change.

Program Start Dates

The program officially begins at the start of our Orientation Program in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Students arriving in advance of our orientation will be responsible for their own transportation from the airport and any necessary accommodations prior to the orientation start date.

Dates by Program

Select your program from the list below to see your program dates.

Health Considerations

Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Students are encouraged to disclose medical conditions with TEAN. Though TEAN does not require this information in our application procedures, we urge students to start a dialogue with us as soon as possible so we can offer guidance and direct students to further resources. Your TEAN Program Manager will open up the TEAN medical form for you to complete later in the application process. However, students with an existing physical or mental health condition are encouraged to start planning now how they will manage their condition in Vietnam.

For more information on medications abroad, please see the following online resources:

Mobility International USA (MIUSA)
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Accessibility

Any student with a physical condition that affects mobility should be aware that accessibility is an issue in Vietnam. We encourage students to disclose any medical condition that may affect their mobility so we can offer guidance and direct students to further resources. The TEAN Program Manager is best equipped to field questions related to Vietnam.

Diversity & Identity

Diversity and Identity

One of our main goals at TEAN is to make sure all of our students are thoroughly supported from day one of the study abroad process. Embracing diversity in all its forms is very important to us. We’re dedicated to providing the most information and resources possible so students can make an informed decision on what program will best suit them, both academically and personally. We encourage all students to read through our Diversity and Identity page of our website to find resources useful for you directly and learn more about the students you will be studying abroad with.

Get Schooled

Overview

Snapshot

Congratulations again! If you’ve gotten this far, you are well and truly on your way to an incredible semester or summer in Vietnam! This section contains information on selecting your courses and ensuring you get credit for them, financial aid and how to navigate the system to ensure your aid transfers, plus details of TEAN and other scholarships you may want to apply for. Step 2: Get Schooled explained in 60 seconds.

Courses & Credits

Courses & Credits

Once it’s time to select courses, your TEAN Program Manager will be in touch with instructions on next steps for how to find courses and submit them on your online application. Once you have submitted your course selections to us, your Program Manager will submit your completed application for formal university approval.


Schedule Meeting with Academic Advisor

It is highly recommended that you have your academic advisor approve your classes before leaving to ensure you receive transfer credit. If you do not wish to receive any credit when you return home, you may be able to forego the approval process. Some students tackle the credit transfer questions when they return from their program, but we don’t recommend it. At the very minimum, you should at least meet with your academic advisor/dean before departure so they are fully aware you will be studying abroad. They will be able to help you select courses that will count toward your major and that will be easily transferable for credit when you return.


Schedule Meeting with Study Abroad Office

Contact your study abroad office at your home university to discuss study abroad credit approval and other specific procedures to be completed for your program overseas. This is an important step as it may reveal crucial details about avoiding complications and making your transition abroad seamless. Additionally, your study abroad advisor will need to sign our “Statement from University” form. You can send this to them from your online application.

Selecting Your Courses

Read this First

  • For students that have already applied, the courses you pick at this stage are for pre-approval from your home university to make sure they will accept them for course credit. You will officially sign up for the courses once you are in Vietnam during orientation. ALWAYS choose at least 6-8 courses for pre-approval in order to have enough to select from in the event that some do not fulfill prerequisites or overlap on the timetable.
  • Make sure to review your preferred course selections with your academic advisor in order to ensure that your credits will transfer back to your home university.

How to Find Courses

  1. Click on RMIT Vietnam’s online course catalog for study abroad students
  2. Search for courses by keyword or course code. You will find a list of popular fields of study and corresponding course codes below.
  3. Select “Undergraduate” for level of study and the appropriate semester (Semester 1 is February – May and Semester 3 is October – January ).
  4. Select “Saigon South” for the campus.
  5. After using RMIT Vietnam’s online course catalog, you should have a list of courses that interest you.
  6. Once you identify 6-8 courses that match your criteria, enter them into your TEAN application under “TEAN Course Selection.”
Common Fields of Study

Below are some common fields of study at RMIT. Use the course codes listed to search for units (courses) in each field of study. To search for classes in these fields, refer back to the RMIT Vietnam online course catalog.

Business – ACCT, BAFI, BUSM, ECON,
Media, Communication and Design – COMM
Computing and Information Technology – COSC
Engineering – EEET

About the Courses (Units)
  • Courses are not set in stone. You will be able to make changes to your initial list throughout the enrollment process.
  • Although courses do not change tremendously from year-to-year, please be aware that you may need to make additional selections once units are officially published, after your initial course requests are submitted.
  • Typical course load: 36-48 credit points (Most courses are 12 credits which equals 3-5 U.S. credits)
  • Normal courses enrolled in: 3-4 courses (the equivalent of 12-16 U.S. credits)
How to Submit Your Courses to TEAN
  • Meet with an advisor at your home university to make sure your courses are approved.
  • Email your TEAN Program Manager if you require any syllabi for pre-approval.
  • Submit your course selections on your TEAN online application.

Financial Aid

Scheduled Meeting with Financial Aid Advisor

While we strive to keep our programs affordable, we recognize that many students need financial help. The good news is that most financial aid you are currently receiving is applicable toward study abroad. Generally, you can transfer federal financial aid, such as Pell Grants and Stafford Loans, which do not need to be repaid until after graduation.

See the Higher Education Act of 1965 (Public Law 102-325, 106 Stat.448): The act was reauthorized in the summer of 1992 to include a number of provisions to facilitate the use of federal financial aid for study abroad. (NAFSA: Association of International Educators Newsletter, Volume 44, No 3/Dec-Jan 1993).

The U.S. Department of Education advised that the Perkins Loans, SSIG Grant Program, Pell Grants, FSEOG Grants, Stafford Loans, SLS loans, PLUS Loans and Consolidation loans can now be used for study abroad. Your study abroad experience does not have to be compulsory for your degree program in order to apply your aid. Please contact your home institution financial aid office to discuss your financial aid options for study abroad.


Consortium Agreements

If you are currently receiving financial aid (federal loans, grants, scholarships, etc.) from your home institution please follow these steps. The financial aid you currently receive may not be processed in the same manner and the same amounts may not be awarded to you.

Step 1: Visit your home university’s financial aid office and inform them you will be studying abroad through TEAN. Ask them how much of your current aid will transfer for a study abroad experience. You will also need to check if there is additional paperwork specific to your home university.

Step 2: Ask your financial aid office if they have a “consortium agreement” (do not worry if this is a foreign term to you, they will know what it is!) which essentially means they will complete all paperwork regarding your existing financial aid while you are studying abroad. This is the ideal arrangement as it makes the whole process easier for everyone. You will also need to have a TEAN Financial Aid Agreement form filled out that will be provided to you by your Program Manager.

Step 3: If they have a consortium agreement, most likely they will have an existing agreement that is university specific. TEAN will likely have to sign this for you and send it back to them. It will not go to your overseas institution. The TEAN Financial Aid Agreement form should then be faxed or emailed to us.

Unfortunately, not all universities will sign a consortium agreement. If this applies to your school please consult us immediately for further guidance.

Please note: The financial aid process is very complex and adequate planning is necessary. You should contact your home institution’s financial aid office if you will, or think you may need to, apply loans or aid to your study abroad program. TEAN is not a lending institution so unfortunately, all financial aid and loan discussions will need to be made within your home university’s financial aid office.

Scholarships

Scholarships

In addition to the current financial aid you receive, you may want to consider one of our many scholarships. TEAN awards thousands of dollars each year in scholarships to qualified students. Awards range from $500 – $3,000, and we have categories including need-based and merit-based scholarships. In addition, there are scholarship opportunities available through external organizations. Review details of study abroad scholarships.

Get a Room

Overview

Snapshot

TEAN provides students with a unique living experience to aid in cultural immersion on a daily basis. You will live in an off-campus apartment located just a short walk from the RMIT Vietnam campus in Ho Chi Minh City. Each apartment is fully furnished with wardrobes in each bedroom, a refrigerator, air conditioner, TV, washer and dryer, and bathroom. Students will share a room with one other student within a multi-bedroom apartment. Within the building, you will find a lobby, pool and a small fitness center. There are also several restaurants and shops on the ground floor that offer affordable options. Within a short walk from your front door, you’ll many cafes, restaurants and awesome street food. Step 3: Get a Room explained in 60 seconds.

Housing Details

Utilities

All of your utilities are included.


Linens

Linens are provided, including sheets, a comforter, pillow and pillow case.


Internet and Cable

WiFi and cable television are included.

Get Booked

Overview

Snapshot

It’s time to book your flights! It’s really happening – get excited! This section details information regarding booking flights for Vietnam, excursions and field trips. Step 4: Get Booked explained in 60 seconds.

Flights

Flights

The best route (and airfare) for flights to Ho Chi Minh City will depend on your departure point in the U.S. Please read the below Steps for Booking Flights, Important Flight Booking Notes and FAQs in full before booking your flights.

Important: Do not book your flights until you have received instructions to do so by email from TEAN and you have completed all steps in the TEAN application portal.


Steps for Booking your Flights

Step 1: Do not book your flights until you receive instructions from TEAN by email.

Step 2: Read all the information on this page carefully and be sure to contact us with any questions to ensure you understand the airfare booking procedures.

Step 3: Review the arrival date and end of program date. Students should book flights departing on or after the program end date. Note that if you depart after the program end date, you may not be able to stay in TEAN housing beyond the end date.

Vietnam Summer Study Abroad
Vietnam Semester Study Abroad

TEAN staff will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your accommodation if you arrive in Ho Chi Minh City during the designated arrival window on the official arrival day.

Step 4: Decide if you are intending to travel independently prior to or after the program dates as this will impact your travel dates to/from the U.S.

Step 5: Research travel itineraries and costs. To assist with your search, read the below “Important Booking Notes.”
Before purchasing tickets, please feel free to contact us or send us your tentative itinerary so that we may ensure it is correct and/or the best routing for your situation.

Step 6: Book your international travel and submit your entire travel itinerary to your TEAN Program Manager.


Important Flight Booking Notes

  • TEAN recommends shopping around to find the best routing and airfare from your departing location.
  • Students must arrive in Ho Chi Minh City on or prior to the recommended arrival date. Please ensure that you have the correct arrival date when researching airfare options. Most flights arriving on the arrival date will have departed on the day before, however this is not always the case, as sometimes a departure of two days prior will be required!
  • Provided you arrive on the official arrival date during the designated arrival window, TEAN will coordinate your airport pick-up and transfer to your accommodation. These times correspond to arrival times of most flights students have taken previously. Further details regarding your airport transfer will be sent to you prior to your departure.
  • Accommodation will be provided for students arriving on the arrival date but accommodation will not be available prior to this date.
  • Be careful when looking at arrival dates/times. Double check dates and times to ensure you arrive during the TEAN pick-up time window, otherwise you will need to book accommodation if you arrive earlier. Keep in mind that you need to allow at least a 3-hour window of time in between domestic and international connections.
  • If you need to re-check your bags in any domestic U.S. airport, you should allow 4-6 hours between flights. This may seem like a very long time but, with potential flight delays, it is better to wait at the airport for your international flight versus miss your flight overseas.
  • Airfare costs can vary greatly from one departure city to another. In the event that you live relatively close to more than one potential departure city, we encourage you to research flight options through each applicable departure location. Students may find that by driving to a slightly farther departure city/airport, they may save several hundred dollars in airfare costs.
  • To complete your application for your Vietnam visa, you must provide a copy of your air ticket or an air itinerary with proof that it has been paid in full. Instructions for applying for your student visa will be sent separately.
  • Pay attention to taxes and fuel surcharges that will be added to the total fare. Sometimes these can be very high and can vary considerably between the different airlines.
  • Pay attention to any cancellation policies and ticketing fees. Many great deals are non-refundable and have various rules and regulations.
    We recommend booking any domestic flights from your home city on the same ticket as your international flight in order to get international baggage allowances. This also ensures that you will automatically be booked on the next available flight in the event that a connection is missed.
  • We strongly encourage you to do your research on various websites before finalizing your flight booking to ensure you’re getting the best value. Keep in mind that sometimes sites like Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz, Hotwire, Priceline, etc. do not provide the best customer service in times of need (missed flights, getting rebooked, changing your itinerary, etc.). We recommend booking with the airline directly.

Flight FAQs

Flight FAQs

How much should I expect the airfare to be?
The estimated cost for all international flights varies from approximately $1,200 – $2,000. This is due in large part to the departure locations from within the U.S. (for example: New York, NY versus Omaha, NE), as well as the return travel dates.

What airlines have students used previously?
It depends where you are flying from. Past students have used the following airlines:
Boston – Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airlines, Emirates, Cathay Pacific
Chicago – Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, Singapore Air, Turkish Air, China Eastern, Qatar Airlines
Denver – Korean Air
Detroit – China Southern
Los Angeles – Qatar Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Air China, Delta, Singapore Air, China Southern, Eva Airways, China Eastern
New York – Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Korean Air, China Southern, Qatar Airlines
Philadelphia – Qatar Airlines
San Francisco – China Southern, Korean Air, Cathay Pacific
Seattle – China Southern
These are just good places to start. You may find something better in your research. Shop around!

Why doesn’t TEAN offer a group flight for this program?
Airfares for individual flights to this region are cheaper than group flights, so we advise booking flights individually.

What if I want to arrive prior to the recommended arrival date?
That’s fine. You will just need to book your own accommodation until the official program arrival date. Your TEAN Program Manager will be able to provide you with details of the TEAN accommodation and a time of when to meet up with the group on the arrival day. Note that airport pick-up is only available if you arrive within the given hours on the official program arrival date.

Offset your Carbon Footprint

How to Offset your Carbon Footprint

Team up with TEAN to reduce your carbon footprint by offsetting your carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from air travel!

What is carbon offsetting?
Carbon offsetting is the action or process of compensating for carbon dioxide emissions produced from industrial or other human activity by participating in activities or programs designed to reduce the equivalent amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

How do I calculate my carbon emissions?
Visit the free Carbon Footprint calculator page to access a user-friendly calculator that will guide you through the quick process of calculating your carbon.  We encourage you to utilize the emissions calculator to estimate how much carbon is entering the atmosphere from your flight overseas. Through TEAN activities or utilizing companies that Carbon Footprint Ltd is associated with, you will have plenty of ample opportunities to offset your carbon throughout your semester abroad and better understand the many ways in which you can make a positive environmental impact.  The Choose Earth Team at TEAN is always happy to assist you with your calculations, so please don’t hesitate to ask Molly Laycob at molly.laycob@teanabroad.org for help!

What can I do to offset my carbon emissions?
TEAN will suggest plenty of opportunities to Choose Earth while you are abroad that will help offset your carbon emissions from your international flight. Following their helpful tips and offsetting your flight is the best way to start reducing your overall carbon footprint while abroad.

If you would like to do more – and we hope that you do! We encourage you to donate the monetary amount estimated by the calculator through Carbon Footprint Ltd.'s partnerships with multiple certified eco-friendly companies. That way, you can directly contribute to programs that help offset the carbon emitted from your flights, helping to make a global impact. Contributions from climate conscious consumers assist in developing projects that promote clean technology. The beauty of this particular program is that you can choose from a variety of charitable causes that are personal to you, as opposed to a single monetary donation to an airline where you may not beg sure if your money is going exactly where you intend it to. Through Carbon Footprint Ltd, you have the power to choose when and how your carbon emissions are offset.

Get Documents

Overview

Snapshot

This section is very important. It also tends to be a little boring, so please stick with us. Before you jet off for the time of your life, there are contracts you need to sign, forms you need to complete, a Vietnamese student visa you may need and a final payment you need to make. Please read this section carefully, and when the time comes, your Program Manager will guide you through it all – step by step. Step 5: Get Documents explained in 60 seconds.

Contracts

Program Contracts

You will receive several contracts (a TEAN program contract, housing contract and privacy consent release) from TEAN that will cover important notices and policies for you to keep in mind during your time abroad. The Privacy Consent Release will also allow us to introduce you to other participants prior to departure. Both you and a parent/guardian will need to electronically sign the documents to confirm your understanding of the terms and conditions of your program.

Student Visa

Student Visa

All students studying abroad in Ho Chi Minh City are required to apply for a student visa. Your Program Manager will supply you with specific, step-by-step instructions when you are eligible to apply, but it is important to understand the process and what you can expect.

Letter of Acceptance

To apply for a visa, you will be required to submit with your visa application with an official Letter of Acceptance. This letter and very specific instructions will be provided by TEAN approximately two months prior to departure.

Passport Reminder

You should apply for your passport as soon as possible once you apply for your study abroad experience in Vietnam, as this process can take approximately 4-8 weeks and will be required for your student visa application as well.  Your passport should be valid for at least six months after the conclusion of your semester to satisfy Vietnam’s entry requirements. All countries have different requirements for passport validity so be sure to check details for any other countries you plan to visit before your final return home.

Cost of Student Visa

The Vietnamese student visa costs approximately $170 plus shipping costs. The cost for obtaining a student visa is not included in the final program fee.

Processing Time

Student visas are typically processed in 1-3 business days. Please ensure you leave enough time to send in all of your materials to the Vietnamese Embassy you’re applying to.

Final Payment

Receive Final invoice

Final invoices will be sent out approximately 60 days prior to your departure. Financial Aid Agreements must be submitted by this time as well to account for any delay in payment. If you are relying heavily on Financial Aid funds, please note that we will require a minimum of $4,000 to be applied to your account prior to your departure.


Payments

A $500 program deposit is due upon acceptance into your program. It will be credited to the overall program fee. The deposit is refundable, should you withdraw 3–4 months prior to the start of the program. After this date, the deposit is non-refundable. The $100 application deposit is not refundable. Please refer to the welcome letter and deposit invoice for the specific refund date.

You can make checks payable to The Education Abroad Network and mail to us at:
505 N. LaSalle St., Suite 200
Chicago, IL 60654
Credit Cards

For your convenience, we accept credit card payments for the $500 program deposit and excursion deposits. We are unable to accept credit card payments on final program balances due to the high cost of credit card processing fees incurred on those transactions.


Refund Policy

Refunds Prior to Semester Commencement
If a student withdraws from the program prior to arrival overseas, we can only reimburse the portion of the program fee that has not already been allocated to some aspect of the students program (ex: housing, deposits, etc). Generally this will be less the $500 deposit (see above), but is subject to our program contract, though students are usually eligible to receive close to full refund amount. See your program contract for the withdrawal date for your program. Any withdrawals after this date will incur a $2,350 cancellation fee plus any additional costs that can’t be recovered.

Refunds During the Program
In these situations, refunds are only available for the amount of the program fee that is recoverable at the time the student returns home. The amount recoverable relates to tuition and housing fees only and is dictated by the refund policy of each host university. Our official refund policy is outlined in the program contract provided to each participant.


Past Due Accounts

All past-due amounts will accrue simple interest at 12% per annum.

Get Going

Overview

Snapshot

It’s almost time! Now you just need to review some last minute pre-departure information including the below quick tips, insurance while abroad, packing tips, planning how you will manage your money while abroad, reviewing cell phone arrangements, and reading up on details regarding your arrival and Orientation in Ho Chi Minh City. Our Vietnam-based staff are looking forward to meeting you when you get off that plane in Ho Chi Minh City! Step 6: Get Going explained in 60 seconds.

Pre-Departure Tips

Pre-Departure Quick Tips

Photocopy all important documents – Leave one set of photocopies with your parents/guardians and keep one set with you (on your person) as you travel. Important documents to copy include, but are not limited to: passport, airline tickets, medical insurance details and inoculation details.

Bring copies of important numbers/contact details – Details include, but are not limited to: emergency contact details (i.e.: parents/guardians), TEAN contact details (to be provided) and arrival details (to be provided).

Exchange money in advance of your arrival into Vietnam – If possible, it is advisable to exchange some funds prior to your arrival into Vietnam. Most international airports have currency exchange kiosks where you can exchange funds for a small fee. Rates are competitive with local banks and will be much more convenient than attempting to exchange funds after you arrive in Vietnam following a long journey. It is recommended that students have enough funds to get them from the airport to the accommodations (if necessary) and cover any initial expenses while in Vietnam. The equivalent of $50 is plenty to start. Arrival Instructions – Be sure to carry all airport arrival instructions as provided by TEAN. This will be extremely helpful in the event you are unable to locate your guide at the airport.

Bug Spray – This is highly recommended for your stay in Southeast Asia, however rather than bring along, it is advisable to wait to purchase it until after you have arrived in Vietnam. Doing so will allow for more space and less weight.

Clothing – Please refer to the Packing Tips in regards to appropriate dress. It is important to practice “conservative dressing” while in Southeast Asia. Be careful not to expose too much of the shoulders or arms (tank tops are okay for daily wear but can’t be worn for temple visits). Clothing exposing the torso or with low-cut necklines should not be worn. Shorter skirts and shorts are generally okay outside of temples and rural areas. Regarding exposing one’s shoulders – when in doubt, throw a thin lightweight shawl or scarf over your shoulders.

Vietnamese language phrasebooks – We recommend purchasing a Vietnamese phrasebook to bring with you. Past students have found these phrasebooks helpful:

Mini Vietnamese Dictionary
Instant Vietnamese Phrasebook

Flexibility – Students are encouraged to be flexible at all times and to expect changes in the schedule as this is part of the “spice of life” in Southeast Asia! Try to accept the differences between American schedules and Vietnamese schedules as much as possible and you will have an amazing time.

Bring a positive attitude and a willingness to experience new people and surroundings!

Insurance

Health Insurance

TEAN requires that all international students possess health insurance coverage through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) for the duration of their studies in Vietnam. The cost of this insurance is included in your program fee and enrollment is automatic.

Your medical insurance policy includes the following:

  • Prescription medications
  • Medical evaluation
  • Hospitalization
  • X-rays
  • Emergency medical assistance
  • Medical transportation and evacuation
  • Return of mortal remains

Please note: There are some limitations to this medical insurance, including dental and optical services. If you have any existing health concerns, contact your current insurance provider before you leave for Vietnam. Medical insurance for higher levels of need is your own responsibility.


Personal Articles Insurance

We recommend students put anything of value, i.e., digital cameras, iPods, jewelry, musical instruments, cell phones, laptops, etc. on a Personal Articles Policy (many homeowners already have this policy so students most likely can add their items onto their parents’ Personal Article Policy). This insurance often covers the full value of the items worldwide with no deductible. Typically, items valued up to $3,000 can be covered for an approximately $30 premium. We encourage students to take pictures of items and note their model, make and serial number, as well as saving receipts when possible. Purchase of this insurance is left to the discretion of the student and his/her parents.


Travel Insurance

Trip insurance is optional and is not included in TEAN program fees. We recommend considering supplemental trip insurance to protect against unexpected mishaps (i.e. lost luggage) that can occur while traveling. Plans range from $100-350 and can be purchased through various insurance carriers.

Health & Safety

Health & Safety

TEAN is committed to the health and safety of every participant. It is very important that students make informed decisions about their study and travel destinations. TEAN continually monitors the safety and security of our study abroad program locations as well as popular student travel destinations. We continue to advise students of the safety and health risks associated with studying and traveling abroad based on the information from the U.S. Department of State travel warnings, local law enforcement, the Southeast Asian governments, NAFSA: Association of International Educators and the World Health Organization.

TEAN has created an Emergency Response Plan for our study abroad locations that will be implemented by both our staff in Southeast Asia/the South Pacific, and our U.S.-based staff in Chicago. TEAN staff will work with students, parents, and study abroad staff at both the student’s home and host institution to provide the most up-to-date information regarding situations that may arise while studying abroad.


Tips for Personal Safety

Emergency Contacts: Be sure to designate a parent or guardian as your Emergency Contact. This way, information regarding an emergency situation will automatically be passed on to your parents. Also make sure to provide TEAN your Emergency Contact’s most up-to-date contact information.

Communication Information: Provide TEAN with accurate and up-to-date contact information regarding your mobile phone number, WhatsApp details and email address. Be sure to notify your parents and Resident Director in case of an emergency.

Keep Others Informed: Tell others (your roommates, your parents, your Resident Director) your travel plans. Keeping others informed will make it easier to locate you in case of an emergency.

Stay Informed: Research the political, cultural, and social climate of your study and travel abroad destination before heading overseas. While abroad, whenever possible, read local newspapers and watch local news broadcasts for developments that may affect your health and safety. If you have questions, please contact a TEAN staff member either in the U.S. or abroad.

What about anti-foreign sentiment? Although individuals are generally well liked abroad, host nationals will often question the activities of foreign governments and may hold anti-foreign views. This can occur in periods of both peace and crisis. Participants in the past have found these tips useful: use common sense, dress to blend in, speak softly, avoid overt displays of home country patriotism and stay away from known established locations frequented by foreigners. TEAN also advises that students avoid all public demonstrations.


Vaccinations

There is no need to have malaria shots or take malaria pills. Malaria is not prevalent in the areas where you will be studying. It is always common sense to have general vaccinations up-to-date, including tetanus, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, etc., but no immunizations are mandatory to participate in the program.  If you have any health conditions that may cause issues, please make sure to consult a doctor before departing.


Safety Notes Regarding Food & Water

TEAN urges students to be extremely cautious about food and water while studying in Southeast Asia. Diseases from food and water are the leading cause of illness in travelers. Follow these tips for safe eating and drinking:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before eating. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Water that is provided at restaurants is safe to drink (no one drinks tap water).
  • Drink only bottled or filtered water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles.
  • Make sure food is fully cooked.

Diseases from food and water often cause vomiting and diarrhea. Make sure to bring diarrhea medicine with you so that you can treat mild cases yourself. Keep in mind that even if you do follow all tips, it is common to find yourself unwell with an upset stomach or food poisoning at some time during your stay in Southeast Asia. Usually you can obtain medicine from a local pharmacy a short walk from your accommodation, and your TEAN Resident Coordinator is just a phone call away to take you to see a doctor if needed.


Relevant Travel and Safety Links

State Department Travel Warnings
Center for Disease Control
World Health Organization
U.S. Embassies

Packing List

Packing List

The packing list provided is a suggested list. Triple-check to ensure you have everything necessary! TEAN is not responsible for forgotten items.

Essentials to Pack
  • Passport/visa
  • Arrival instructions
  • Driver’s license (alternate form of ID)
  • Airline tickets and/or electronic confirmation numbers
  • Money (cash, debit/credit cards, etc.)
  • Photocopies of important documents
  • Reusable water bottle (the cheapest and most environmentally friendly way to get drinking water is to refill bottles!)
General Clothing Items
  • Basic clothing such as jeans/khakis/lightweight trousers, long skirts, pajamas, underwear, socks, shorts and t-shirts. Flowy cotton clothing is recommended for optimum comfort in the heat, however there may be times where you will want to wear jeans.
  • Jacket/warm top for nights outside of Ho Chi Minh City, light layers for cooler nights in Ho Chi Minh City
  • Lightweight scarf or shawl (good for nights and covering up at temples)
  • Hat (to protect from sun – these are also inexpensive and readily available in Vietnam)
  • Bathing suit (two-piece suits for girls is okay, but it’s recommended to get a one-piece if you plan to use the pool in your housing)
Shoes
  • Comfortable walking shoes: tennis shoes, shoes for hiking (lace-up shoes), etc.
  • 1-2 pairs of sturdy sandals that are comfortable for walking
  • Flip-flops
Toiletries and Cosmetics
  • Sunscreen and bug spray (may also be purchased after arrival)
  • Feminine hygiene products (tampons, especially with applicators, are not easy to find and more expensive than in the U.S.)
  • Shampoo, conditioner, hair products, etc. can be purchased after arrival and will save you space in your suitcase.
  • Contact lenses (extended wear if possible) and solution
  • Glasses: prescription (if necessary) and sunglasses
  • Prescription medicine (bring note/proof from doctor)
Accessories and Electronics
  • Towel (you can buy this once in Vietnam)
  • Unlocked phone (you’ll receive a local SIM card to use during your program)Smaller backpack for books/local travel
  • Camera and memory card + battery charger or extra batteries
Computers and School Supplies
  • Students should bring a laptop. Universities have computer labs, but they do operate on limited opening hours (i.e. will not be available late at night). TEAN’s university partners in Southeast Asia have WiFi access throughout the campuses, although please be aware that the internet speed in Vietnam is sometimes slower than that of the U.S.
  • Internet is available in your housing in Ho Chi Minh City. Local cafés are also great places to go to find a strong – and free! – WiFi connection.
Miscellaneous
  • Phone numbers and email addresses of people with whom you wish to keep in contact
  • Extra passport photos (often needed for travel to other Southeast Asian countries). You can also get these done cheaply while in Ho Chi Minh City.
During the Rainy Season (Mostly Summer / Fall Students)
  • Raincoat with a hood or waterproof Gore-tex jacket OR just buy a poncho at a convenience store in Ho Chi Minh City
  • Rain resistant shoes (if owned)
  • Umbrella (this can be bought once in Vietnam)

Other Packing Notes

Medications
Most medications you would use at home are readily available over the counter at pharmacies in Vietnam. You can purchase Ibuprofen, Tylenol, nausea medicine, cold medicine and even antibiotics without a prescription from a licensed pharmacist.

Clothing Off-Campus
Please keep in mind that Vietnam is more conservative than the United States. It is important to dress appropriately for the culture as well as the climate. We recommend loose, flowy clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. You can wear shorts and tank tops (so long as they are modest) out and about in Ho Chi Minh City, but not at temples or on academic excursions. Observe the behavior of those around you and you will pick up on what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate to wear in certain settings. You will also be able to purchase inexpensive lightweight, loose-fitting comfortable clothing at markets throughout Vietnam.

Clothing On-Campus
Wearing conservative clothing while on campus is also highly recommended. While wearing shorts is technically allowed, it could result in stares and general discomfort. Wearing jeans, pants or, for women, longer skirts is encouraged.

Adaptors/Converters
Electric outlets in Vietnam primarily feature two-pronged outlets that can fit flat plugs, so if you have a 3-pronged plug you will need an adaptor. If you plan to travel to other countries in Southeast Asia, it’s advised that you research whether or not you’ll need an adaptor there. These can all be purchased while you’re in Vietnam. Converters are recommended for larger electronics such as hair dryers or computer chargers.


Baggage Restrictions

International Flight to Vietnam
Most airlines allow all passengers flying internationally two checked items, one carry-on and one personal item. Please contact your air carrier for their current baggage restrictions (including dimensions and weight) and fees for additional checked items. If you will exceed your air carrier’s baggage restrictions, it is generally more economical, safer and easier to pay the airlines for additional checked baggage versus shipping items to Vietnam.

Carry On
While there is little chance of this happening, if you plan on the airline losing your baggage for at least 24-48 hours you will be prepared and avoid extra inconvenience. Pack travel sized toiletries (no more than three bottles that are 3oz or less in a clear bag), medication and change of clothes in your carry-on. This will more than likely not happen, but if it does you will be ready.

Cultural Tips

Cultural Tips

You will find the people of Southeast Asia to be some of the most accommodating and friendly in the world. To reciprocate their kindness, make sure to follow these basic cultural tips.

  • Respecting elders is an important part of Vietnamese society. Elderly people have the right of way and are afforded privileges to show respect.
  • Always take your shoes off when entering a Vietnamese home.
  • Public affection is not widely accepted. When meeting someone of the opposite sex in Vietnam, a handshake is the standard greeting.
  • If invited to a Vietnamese home, bring a small gift wrapped in colorful paper (like incense, fruit, flowers or candy). Do not bring anything black, handkerchiefs, yellow flowers or chrysanthemums, as these are associated with death.
  • At dinner, the eldest member of the family should begin eating before you do. You may find that your hosts will put food into your rice bowl as an act of hospitality. Try to finish the food that is served to you.
  • Pass items (including business cards) with both hands.
  • The head is considered sacred and should not be touched.
  • When you give a gift, use both hands and don’t be offended if they don’t open it right away. Gifts are to be opened in private.
  • Try to avoid standing with your hands on your hips or arms crossed over your chest as this can be interpreted as anger or a threat. Similarly, indirect eye contact is common in Vietnam as looking someone straight in the eye can be seen as aggressive behavior.

Communicating While Abroad

Contacting Home

Below are some suggested ways that you can easily stay in touch with your family and friends while studying abroad.

We recommend setting up a contact plan before you depart, deciding how and when you’ll be available while abroad. Whether that looks like daily, weekly, biweekly or monthly check-ins, it’s good to have a consistent way to get in touch, as well as back up alternatives in case of an emergency. While studying abroad can be a time to spread your wings and become more independent, it’s important to regularly touch base with your loved ones so they don’t worry while you’re away.

No matter which method you choose, we recommend downloading your preferred applications before leaving home and testing them out to make sure any accounts and contacts are set up properly.

Local SIM Card

TEAN provides all students a local SIM card for calls, texting and data. Phone plans vary depending on location and more details will be provided by your Program Manager. It is recommended to only use your local phone number to call home in cases of emergency since long distance calls can be expensive but there are plenty of ways to call internationally for free or very cheap (keep reading!)..

Unlocking your Phone

In order to use the local SIM card, you need to make sure your phone is unlocked and able to accept SIM cards from other mobile carriers. “Unlocking” your phone means that your phone is not locked to one specific carrier. If your phone is unlocked you will be able to use a foreign SIM card while you are abroad. If you’re unsure if your phone is unlocked, it’s important to call your current service provider to check. If you cannot get your current phone unlocked, you will need to bring a different unlocked phone from home or plan to purchase a phone while in your host country.

International Phone Plan

While all students are given local SIM cards, some may decide to keep their US number and opt for an international phone plan. In most cases, this allows students to utilize their phone domestically in their host country and internationally. The cost of this can vary based on service provider. If you are interested in this option, you should get in touch with your phone service provider to get the relevant fees and service options. Be sure to consider costs for dialing local numbers as it can sometimes make an international plan undesirable for calls within your host country.

Purchasing a Phone in Country

This would only be a viable option if you do not want to or cannot use your current U.S. phone, and can speak and read the local language. Phones can be purchased in all locations for costs comparable to U.S. phones. This may be a good option for a student who is looking to use a phone for just texting and calling while in country, as non-smart phones can be purchased cheaply in most countries. If you are worried about losing your U.S. smartphone, you may want to consider purchasing an inexpensive phone in your host country.


Free International Contact Options

While all students will have access to a local number, there are free ways to get in touch with people across the world while connected to the internet or data.

Skype

Allows free chat, audio calling and video calling between users while using WiFi or data. This allows for calls between two parties both using the Skype app downloaded. The Skype app can be downloaded onto you phone, tablet and computer. You can also purchase Skype credit which allows you to call international landline and mobile phone numbers directly (so both parties don't have to have a Skype account). These calls typically cost around $.05 for the connection and $.03 per minute, making it an affordable option.

Facebook Messenger

Facebook’s Messenger app allows free chat, audio calling and video calling between users while on WiFi or data.

iMessage

While we don’t suggest going out of your way to purchase an iPhone for this option, it is a great feature for any students who have these phones already. iPhones use iMessage and FaceTime while on WiFi or data at zero charge to the provider plan.

Other free messaging apps

There are several apps that allows free chat, audio calling and video calling between users while on WiFi or data. WhatsApp is popular outside of the U.S. but some countries also have their own messaging app of choice that you’ll likely want to download to chat with your new local friends. These include:

Email

It may seem obvious but email is a great way to continue to stay in touch with people back home regardless of the time differences. If your host institution gives you a new school email, but sure to update friends and family with the email address you will be checking most frequently throughout your program.

Finances Abroad

Brining U.S. Currency to Vietnam

We do not recommend bringing large amounts of cash with you for security and safety reasons. However, you may wish to bring a small amount of foreign currency for any initial personal expense needs. Most major banks in large U.S. cities have foreign currency in stock, but smaller, regional banks may be able to order Southeast Asian currencies. Therefore, do not wait until the last minute to place your order. Alternatively, you can exchange money at the airport before you depart for the overseas flight. This is slightly more expensive than using a local bank (1-2% higher fees), but much more convenient.


Money Access in Vietnam

Using a U.S. Bank Account
You can avoid paying ATM fees by opening a Charles Schwab account because they refund all ATM domestic and foreign transaction fees worldwide and it is free to open an account. They never charge a fee but if the foreign bank does then Charles Schwab refunds the cost at the end of each month. Accounts can be opened online. It is always good to check your local bank’s policy as well.

It usually takes 7-10 days for Charles Schwab to mail the actual ATM card (so don’t wait until the last minute to open an account). All transactions can be done online (including funding the account from another bank account you have in the U.S.).

If you plan to withdraw money from an ATM using your regular U.S. card, ensure you notify your bank that you will be accessing money in Vietnam before you leave the U.S. Vietnam is very much a cash-based society and ATMs can be found absolutely everywhere, however note that most Vietnamese bank ATMs charge a withdrawal fee. When you consider that a local Vietnamese meal costs around $3, then that’s several meals in just one bank charge. This is why you’ll see most popular American travel bloggers recommend using a Charles Schwab bank account for travel to avoid these fees.

U.S. Credit Card
We recommend that you have a credit card for your time in Southeast Asia and not just a debit card. You probably will not use it much, but it’s good to have for emergencies or to purchase flights for regional travel.


Cost of Living

The cost of living in Southeast Asia is considerably lower than that of the United States and thus day-to-day expenses will be less for most students. However, as students are in one of the best regions in the world to travel, participants may find themselves booking regional airfares and optional excursions at additional expense.