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Foreigners living in Vietnam, how are they doing? (Hanoi)

This is from my 4 years personal experiences of meeting, socializing, working and being friends with foreigners in Vietnam. In this post, I mostly indicate foreigners who are working and living rather than tourists. This may be applicable for expats in other countries, not only Vietnam.

There are nothing new for you here. I just want to summarize what you already know. And not enough yet, so you are welcome to contribute comments/thoughts/additional info.

1. Where do they come from:

I meet the most people from following countries: US, Germany, France, South Africa, South Korea, Philippines, Japan, Singapore, Nigeria, India, Italia, China, UK, Australia and Russia.

Beside, I do meet people from Angola, Modambique, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Malaysia, Myanmar, Fiji, Romania, Hongkong, Switzerland, Denmark, Brazil …

Most of people from South Africa I’ve met are white people, they said because some policies of South Africa are currently favor of black people more than white people, so many white people have been moving out of the country.

2. How long do they live here:

I’ve met people who had arrived just few days, to people have been living here for 25 years.

3. Why did they come to Vietnam:

- they came to travel/do internship, then like the country then come back to stay/live/work
- get to know the country by relatives, friends, acquaintances then come and work/study
- want to ‘escape’ from their home country/want something new/want to change, find out Vietnam then come to find a job/open a business
- being assigned by their company to work in Vietnam
- follow their spouse/children/parents/significant other to relocate
- get married to Vietnamese

4. What do they do here as work/business:

They work in various industries on various positions which need their talents, skills, experiences and/or languages: manufacturing, law, food & beverage, hospitality, IT, banking, healthcare, education, fashion & textile … or work remotely.

There are few nationalities would work in some specific industries more than the others. For examples:
- Filipino: English teachers, house helpers, singer & DJ.
- Indian: yoga teachers
- Korean: manufacturing

Those who follow their parents/children/spouse or come to retire don’t work.

5. How is their life here:

5.1. What’re their difficulties:

There are lots of things are new for them in comparison with what they experienced in their home country which either make them feel interesting and enjoy or annoying.

+ Traffic: not many of them were used with the way traffic works here

+ weather and pollution: few of them are easily getting sick because of different weather and pollution.

+ language: majority of Vietnamese people don’t speak English and Vietnamese isn’t easy to learn. This hinder them in term of:
- many foreigners come to Vietnam want to find a job in their industry in their home country or their interest, but aren’t successful due to they don’t speak the language and understand common practice of the industry in Vietnam. Most of them would end up teaching English or in jobs using their foreign appearance and characteristic.
- daily life activities

+ visa & government policies

5.2. Pros and cons:

Their foreign appearance and their newness are sometime for them and sometime against them.

They make them become more desirable to approach by people who want to speak English, learn new thing. It’s also helpful for them to find work sometimes. But some of them also complaint being overcharged because of being foreigners.

5.3. What’re they missing from their home country:

+ food: depend on where do they come from, there are certain foods they are missing, like: cheese

+ other things and conveniences aren’t available in Vietnam

5.4. How are they adapting with life here:
- many of them had learned to drive motorbike to commute
- many of them also try to learn Vietnamese

5.5. What do they usually compliment the most about Vietnam: food, friendliness of people, beautiful landscape, lots of things are cheaper than in their home country.

5.6. How do Vietnamese people treat them:

Generally speaking, Vietnamese people prefer white people more than other races and perhaps treat them better (One American one time asked me “Vietnamese people are friendly with foreigners, are they friendly with each other?”)

6. Differences between Vietnamese and foreigners:

+ Mostly foreigners don’t eat dogs, cats’ meat and are pity on them, many Vietnamese eat dog, cat’s meat.

+ We treat avocado as a fruit, I’ve met some foreigners said that they treat avocado as vegetable.

7. Significant foreigners in Vietnam (for me):

+ Lyra – Filipino – owner of her blog hello-saigon.com

+ Tim – Swiss – founder of Maison Chance – a place to help orphan children and disabled people (maison-chance.org)

(to be updated)

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