|USIA Fulbright Scholar in Vietnam|
We arrived in Nha Trang in good shape on February 2, were met by two members of the International Relations Department, and taken to the dormitory.
We began looking for a place to live the second day after our arrival. Our choice of housing was complicated by the fact that the university is six or seven kilometers from the main municipal beach where both Cathy and I thought the kids would enjoy living most. We looked at a number of houses, but for a variety of reasons none worked out, and then Tet arrived which shut down everything for several days. Now, after Tet, we've decided to live in a new dormitory that houses graduate students, teachers, and other visitors. We think it will work out well. We've rented an extra room for a sitting room and have rented a piano so our children can continue to practice. Staying on campus will enable us to integrate much better into the university community and we think that will have big dividends. If we stayed off-campus, we might relax by the sea more, but we certainly would interact with faculty and students less. Our primary goal is to be useful here at the university, and we can take a taxi to the sea when we want to recreate.
The university essentially has been closed since we've arrived. The semester ended before Tet, and during Tet everything, including the Internet store where we use email, has been closed. The university has a number of computers, but, as nearly as I can tell, only a couple of them are set up for email and the Internet. Although I could receive email through an address here at the university, all messages are printed by secretarial staff and then delivered. I think it would be somewhat of an imposition to use it frequently, especially in the manner we are accustomed to, and so we've mainly gone to the Internet store where we pay for time on-line. We hope, now that we've settled in a room, to obtain our own telephone and email. We've been told that this may occur this week.
I've begun to write out lectures. Staff in the International Relations Department think it would help with my classes if I distribute lectures, or at least notes, ahead of time. Several of the faculty here have said that the English skills of the students are not great, so classes may proceed very slowly. We begin March 8.
I also have met several researchers from the Oceanographic Institute that is across town. They are engaged in a series of interesting projects, and I'm confident we'll meet and talk many times during our stay here.
I am the first American to come to the Fisheries University, but the University has had exchanges with Australians, Canadians, and Danes, among others. As far as we can tell, ours are the first western children, particularly American children, that most people ever have seen in person, let alone met. The children are growing used to being the object of stares.
Everyone was been very welcoming and people have been very helpful. We're enjoying our stay very much.