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18-year-olds in Vietnam – Conclusion: Expats’ views

Friday, July 24, 2015, 16:55 GMT+7

Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper continues to receive opinions from expats living in Vietnam on whether 18 is considered a mature age, as part of the newspaper’s forum titled “Is 18 Mature Enough?”

The forum was launched during a discussion on whether parents should deliver as much care to their 18-year-old children as they did during the national high school exam early this month.

Instead of taking part in the traditionally separated high school graduation and university entrance exams as in previous years, from this year on, 12th graders will only sit for one exam, also called the national high school exam.

The results of the national exam will be used for both high school graduation and university admission.

To sit for the exam from July 1 to 4, considered a turning point of student life, contestants from across the country flocked to major towns and cities.

Numerous photos were captured showing parents accompanying their children from their hometowns to big cities where the exam took place, nervously waiting for their children to take the exam, driving them from home to school and watching them finish their meals, as well as giving them other devoted care.

Three expats have weighed in on the forum’s topic with their viewpoints as follows:

Dana Filek-Gibson, Canada

We don't have this same exam where I come from, but at 17, I don't think my parents would have sent me to a big city on my own, either. So it's not completely unreasonable that these students are accompanied by their parents.

In Canada and the U.S., we don't usually have exams outside of our own hometowns, but when students go to university they often live alone for the first time without their parents.

Most people go to university in another town and so they must live on their own for the first time around 18. It's like a rite of passage for college students; you live in your school's residence building with your peers. For example, my family lived in Michigan in the U.S. when I was in high school and, when I graduated, I moved away to attend university in Massachusetts, another state.

Legally, you're considered an adult at 18 in both Canada and the U.S. Socially, I definitely wouldn't call an 18-year-old an adult. I don't think most young people become adults until about their mid-20s.

I don't think that 18 is mature, but it is old enough to live on your own, yes. You're still not an adult necessarily, but part of becoming an adult is learning to be independent of your family.

At 18 – or at any age, really – the most important thing, I think, is to be open to new things. Try new stuff, meet new people, and visit new places. The more things you expose yourself to, the more you learn. Learning to be independent is an important step in your development as a person.

Robert Ackley, U.S.

Like in Vietnam, in the U.S, after graduating from high school, we go to college, and I think those four years are good because you learn more. There’re a lot of things you have to do for the rest of your life, and at that time you have to start learning how to do them.

I think 18 is mature enough to live on your own. Usually in university you live in the dorm first and then after maybe two years, you can look for an apartment with friends. Then that’s the first time you have to pay rent, bills, things like that. That’s different when you live with people that aren’t your parents. When you have roommates, you have to respect the house, to learn how to co-exist with people. You don’t have your parents there when you have problems, so you have to solve them on your own.

I think people are really mature when they finish university, 22 or 23. Being mature depends on each person but I think people need four or five more years to learn how to communicate with others. When people are at 18, I feel they have not experienced those things enough. As a result, 18 is just the beginning of learning.

Allen Wilde, Australia

People in Australia are legally free to move from home at the age of 16. Up until recently, most children would move out of home from about 18, however the high cost of living and the uncertainty of work has meant that more and more people are living at home for longer. 18 is the age one can legally drive a car, drink alcohol and fight for the country in wartime, but traditionally we celebrate 21 as the year we become an adult.

In Vietnam I think some grow mature earlier than others, and this is similar to people in the west. I think Vietnamese teens should become more involved in the creative arts, writing, singing, dance, and creating short films. This will lead them to become more curious about how society works and how they fit into it.

We have situations where parents were brought up with one strict code and today’s kids seek a more western, modern style of life. Interviews I have had with Vietnamese parents reflect this. I have noticed, however, that many girls have a dual lifestyle. In private they practice a modern western way of life, but at home they are much more subdued. Social apparatuses like Facebook and Skype have had huge influences on local kids.


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