• Your last name is Nguyen, or you know someone whose last name is Nguyen. (This one’s pretty unavoidable, considering that over half of Vietnam’s population carries this name.)
  • Other common last names you might have include Pham, Le, Vu, Ho, Duong, or Vo.
  • Someone in your family works at the nail/hair salon, or you know someone who works at one.
  • You get your nails done or hair cut at said nail/hair salon.
  • Your family owns a collection of ASIA or Paris By Night DVDs.

  • Everything your family cooks includes soy sauce or fish sauce.
  • One of those free Asian calendars is hanging around somewhere.
  • While most people go to Subway, Quizno’s, Which Wich, etc. for their sandwiches, you go for banh mi.
  • Your remote control or furniture are still wrapped in plastic, like they’re brand new or they’ve never been used.
  • Ao dai. You either love ’em or hate ’em.
  • Fish sauce goes on everything. I mean everything.
  • You know where all the good restaurants are for pho, dim sum, and hot pot.
  • You get scolded by parents for forgetting or not knowing how to address other adults. (“Too old to be a chu, too young to be a bac, definitely not old enough to be an ong…ok seriously what are you? I’m so confused.”)
  • The He Tre was your childhood.
  • Your parents urge you to become a doctor or engineer, and urge you to stay away from arts and humanities like the plague.
  • You’ve probably taken piano lessons at one point in your life. You’ve either quit or are still playing. (I quit.)
  • Your parents try to set you up with someone, usually someone Vietnamese
  • You’re often confused for being Chinese or Filipino.
  • Your family drives only Japanese cars, and criticize American cars for being unreliable.
  • Your mom makes you wear a coat even though it’s like 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside.
  • You’ve heard anti-blackness (fear or distrust of black people) among the community.
  • Your house has a large statue of Madonna and Child, if you’re Catholic.
  • Your house has a large statue of Buddha, if you’re Buddhist.
  • You have to leave your shoes by the door. (This makes sense, so you won’t track dirt into the house. Americans have recently caught on to this habit, but we’ve been doing that since forever.)
  • Every time you complain, your parents fire back saying how much harder life is in Vietnam and you just have it easy.
  • You celebrate the New Year twice: the first time in January, the second time for Lunar New Year. (We don’t have nearly as many festivals and holidays as the Japanese, but when Lunar New Year rolls around, boy do we party HARD.)
  • If your family lives overseas, they likely have strong anti-Chinese and anti-Communist sentiments.
  • Eagle Oil or Tiger Balm is the cure-all for everything, according to your parents.
  • You’re told that when you’re speaking Vietnamese, it either sounds musical or it sounds like an angry duck. (The language goes both ways. I’ve heard it sound pleasant and lovely from certain people, while it sounds harsh, ugly, and nasal from others.)
  • You’ll never go hungry. Ever.
  • Learning to use chopsticks and cook rice are essential life skills.
  • Karaoke is the cornerstone of a get-together.
  • You come from an amazing history and culture that has weathered through years of invasion, foreign influence, trials, and hardship, and wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world.

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