THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE LOVELY
I just came back from an English practice session of Couchsurfing Hanoi. In the evening I had nothing specific to do and a friend of mine went to the event, so I thought: Okay. Let’s give it a go. Hope it’s not gonna be a waste of time.
It turned out not to be, which is why you are reading this post. ^^
I would love to point out why you should go or should not go, depending on your interests.
A vibrant community
Couchsurfing Hanoi is not necessarily a hub of couchsurfers. Actually many of them have never hosted or used Couchsurfing ever before.
Many that attend the event may or may not be inspired to be a host or a surfer. So to sum it up, Couchsurfing Hanoi literally is not about Couchsurfing ^^.
In spite of that, the community is full of youngsters who are very eager, open and strive their best to reach out and learn from each other. Most of them can speak English really well or have an extensive range of travel experiences. Getting to such a community does inspire and push each member to become better.
Such a community can become a great network. With contacts gained and exchanged, that hub of people can share opportunities for each other.
There are many ways to improve your English in this city. Couch is just an option. As an option, it’s not the best.
People in Hanoi are very familiar with Hanoi Massive. Many consider it as a “Hanoi Massive load of shit”. In a way, it is, as most of things there are very random and trivial, yet not many get out of that group ;)
Discussing English there is damn funny. It’s very real and spontaneous. A guy or gal can randomly post a question or concern, and just seconds later the comments popped up. Since most people are anonymous behind the screen, they raise their voice very rigorously. Typing some sentences can sum up your ideas better than discussing in a group in real life. Furthermore, it’s faster. You can add your comment anytime out of your convinience.
A hot topic in Vietnamese Media can raise a boiling discussion immediately in that forum.
Okay so why English discussion of Couch is not the best? I would think of it like this:
There are so many Vietnamese vs a few foreigners
In today’s session, we’re packed with locals. I don’t say this is bad. After all, locals want to improve English, foreigners don’t. They don’t go there to argue about some things they already know well. If they do, maybe that comes out of courtesy (they are hosted by a member) or they have nothing better to do that night. Wow believe me, Hanoi events are massive. The pool of choice is endless.
So yeah you may meet them in some travels organized by Couch, but may not see them in English discussion as you expect. Somehow ironic right?
From there comes a question:
Do you need a foreigner to practice ?
Hmm, I would say yes ^^. Talking English to Vietnamese is pretty wierd. Anyway, as long as you are comfortable with that then it would not be a big problem. Many Viets in Couch possess excellent English capacity and may help you overcome some obstacles (hopefully).
If you are Vietnamese reading this post then you may be interested in some other ways to practice English with foreigners in Hanoi. Here is how.
The way the discussion is organized needs to be improved as well.
When the MC says “start”, the collective noise from all tables make us very difficult to listen to each other. In more than one case we have to shout
Can you speak louder, please? I can’t hear anything !!
Wow, do I need to shout to be heard?
It’s pretty long already. In the end I would say yes thanks to the vibrant community and a not bad option to practise English.