Exam Day Luck

It’s July, and while most students in the U.S. have been working on their summer tan, hundreds of thousands of students in Vietnam are sweating through their university entrance exams. But before this happens, Hanoi’s 938-year-old Temple of Literature (above) is jammed with thousands of stressed out students hoping to pass their exams. The Temple is Vietnam’s oldest university, and students come here to burn incense, pray for luck, and touch the heads of the eighty-two sacred stone turtles that represent past university laureates, hoping that some of their good luck will rub off.

Many students also participate in the exam day ritual of eating a “lucky breakfast” consisting of green beans, since the Vietnamese word for bean is also the same word for pass. With 1.8 million candidates taking the test every year and only three hundred thousand places available in Vietnam’s universities, hopefuls need every bit of luck they can get. In a country where two thirds of the people are under the age of 30, Vietnam is struggling to cope with the growing pains of a population that demands to be educated. To read more about this issue, click HERE.


(Top photo by Sean Madden, bottom photo by AFP.)