Nguyen was born in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. She visited the United States as a senior in high school via a foreign exchange program that placed her with a host family in Elkhart. During her time there, she visited Elkhart Memorial High School, where she met Liliana Ballge, who works for the admissions office here at Goshen College. The rest, as they say, is history.

Facts about Vietnam:

The capital city of Vietnam is Hanoi.

The official language is Vietnamese. In addition, there are 54 tribes, which means there is a plethora of other dialects spoken.

The area of Vietnam is approximately 128,000 square miles. This is roughly the size of New Mexico.

A round trip ticket to Vietnam costs about $1,300.

What is considered one of the most significant customs or celebrations in Vietnam?

The most significant holiday is the Tet holiday. This holiday is celebrated in accordance with the lunar calendar (not to be confused with the Chinese calendar), and it falls from late January to early February. The holiday lasts seven to 10 days. We clean the house because it symbolizes freshness that comes with the New Year.  Chicken, sticky rice and vegetables are the foods that are served during this festival. At midnight, the head of the house enters the house first before the others because it symbolizes newness that comes with the New Year.

What is your favorite food and drink from Vietnam?

Rice noodles, Pho (not to be confused with ramen noodles), are my favorite. It is served with either beef or chicken. It has a very distinct taste. My favorite drink is made from boiling sweet corn and adding a little bit of sugar. This drink is either served cold or warm.

What are some of the most popular places to visit in Vietnam?

A popular place for tourists is the Ha Long Bay. It is the most famous bay in Vietnam. There is a beach which has rock outcrops. Tourists have the pleasure of riding in traditional Vietnamese boats. Another place to visit is the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum. This is where the body of the Vietnamese leader, Ho Chi Minh, is kept. It is a very respected place. The architecture of the mausoleum has some French influence. It was built after the war between France and Vietnam.

What does a typical day look like for you in Vietnam?

A typical day for me would be waking up very early, around 6 or 7 a.m., and going out to eat a huge breakfast. After that I would go to one of the many coffee shops and drink coffee until noon with my friends. I would then ride my motorcycle around the city because in Hanoi there are always new streets and corners to discover. I would then spend the evening with my family.

Interesting Facts about Vietnam:

There is a street that only has restaurants that specialize in  dog meat.

Oct. 10, 2010 was a special day in Hanoi because it was on this day that the city turned 1,000 years old. The day was commemorated with a 3-km-long ceramic wall that featured various forms of art from different artists all over the world.

The north of Vietnam experiences four seasons (summer, spring, autumn and winter) whereas the south only has a dry season and a warm season because it is close to the equator.

When you greet elders, it is respectful to bow in front of them. Also, if you are giving something to an elder it is important that you hand it to him or her with both hands and not one.