A day in the life

Wondering what it is like for me living and working in Vietnam? Here’s a typical day:

7:00 AM – Wake up! I am not an early riser, so this is actually early for me, but not for Vietnam, where the streets are bustling by 6:15.

7:30 AM – Gym. I am surrounded by teammates who are active, and it motivates me to stay active too. The only catch is that the gym is not air conditioned, and when it’s over 80°F/27°C with 80% humidity by 6:00, this can be a real challenge. But I’ve come to really appreciate a breeze!

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The breeze by that door is top notch! I find myself standing in it after a run.

8:30 AM – Breakfast. It is common in Vietnam to have pho for breakfast. I frequently have pho, so I typically go the more American route and have eggs and fruit. Dragon fruit is a new favorite.

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Pho and fruits, breakfast of Vietnamese champions!

9:00 AM – Work. If we are meeting with our clients in the morning, we’ll typically meet by 8:00, but if not, our team starts and ends later in the day.  On a typical day, we are working on our deliverables, reading translated documents, and discussing the agenda for client meetings. Currently, we are putting together workshops on business management and IT for our clients.

12:30 PM – Lunch. We like to try as many things as possible in the area. The hardest part is getting used to eating hot foods (like soup) on a hot and humid day, but there are many delicious things to try. Aside from soups, rice, noodles, seafood, and meats are very common.

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A traditional multi-course meal that starts with salads, and moves to hot plates of meats, whole fish, and bread, and finishes with a hot pot and fruit.

2:00 PM – Meetings. Most people in Vietnam take lunch from 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM, so afternoon client meetings typically start at 2:00 PM. Though we may have a short agenda, we have to build in double the time for translation, so meetings usually last a few hours.

4:00 PM – Tea break. Our clients will normally end their day by 4:30 PM, so after our meetings finish, we will have tea and fruit before leaving. Tea is available all the time and iced tea is served at restaurants in place of water.

8:00 PM – Dinner. Our team will debrief after our client meetings and continue working on deliverables and preparing documents for translation. Since people here start their days early, they tend not to stay out late. Dinner for locals is usually much earlier and shops tend to shut down by 10:00 PM. With our busy days, we’ll often have a smaller meal, like Banh Mi, for dinner. Beer is also a popular addition to meals in Vietnam with Saigon beer being available everywhere.

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The banh mi stand is the place to be at night!

11:00 PM – Bed. After dinner we may have more work to complete and if not we’ll use the time to catch up on writing and talking with family and friends.

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