A Year In Review

This month marks my one year anniversary with Vietnam and wow has it been a wild year. I made amazing friends, traveled around south east Asia, gained wonderful new experiences, and learned a lot about myself and the world around me.

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In the beginning, when I first moved here, I essentially came with three other people, arrive all within a month of each other. And for the first 6 months of living in Vietnam, those people have given me unparalleled support to try new things and have pushed me to live outside my comfort zone. We were all stuck together; living in this city with no English capacity. We relied on each other and that’s what cultivated such strong relationships. These once strangers have become one of the main reasons I have profoundly loved my experiences so much. We call ourselves a family because we have become one. Sometimes it really isn’t about where in the world you go, but it’s more about who you had surrounded myself with.

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The bitter time came; one-by-one we all needed to say our farewells and take our leave in order to continue on our incredible adventures. The day when Raychel decided to leave me, I don’t know what happened, but I cried. It was eye opening to see how fond I have grown for these people, the center, and absolutely wonderful city. Then a month later, as I was leaving and headed off to the airport, I was crying as well. And not the type of crying where you look cute as you are seeing off some friends, the type of crying that is unexpected and takes over: can’t talk, can’t walk, all you are is a babbling idiot.  Over this year, I am so grateful having made everlasting friends that I adore and continue to connect with. Every person that I have connected with has all taught me something valuable.

Being in a new country, knowing that time is limited, there is an silent, yet strong urge to capitalize. And, for me, that means exploring as many new places as time (and money) allows. There are too many highlights to share and with so many incredible people. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been able to travel around the whole Vietnam & even more outside the country. I get nostalgic thinking about all the wonderful (and miserable) trips I had.

These last 12 months, I have been looking for any opportunity to travel and see more. Now, I’m looking through my photo albums and remembering all that I’ve seen: lanterns with Raychel, went hiking with Ngoc, cleansing temples with Sydney, endless meat sticks with Kyle, frigid waters with Mom, and squirt guns with Tammy. What amazing memories that will last a lifetime. These memories? I wouldn’t trade for anything. I realized that traveling is more about gaining experiences rather than taking photos of landmarks.

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Through thick and thin, teaching has made it possible for me to continue exploring. It has been a cornerstone and foundational throughout my time here in Vietnam. I couldn’t write a year in review without mentioning teaching. For me, teaching is a new experience and wildly different than what I thought it would be. I thought how hard could it be: I already know English. Boy was I wrong. I have a huge new found respect for teachers. Lesson planning and cutting things up for an hour only for a 10 minute activity. In the beginning and first classes, I remember how nervous I would be for every class and how I would stress about going up to present.

In hindsight, I clearly overthought the gravity of the situation. I believed that everything I that I said and did had a direct impact of student’s life. While I was right…  it ain’t that deep. I was too concerned with how the students thought of me and less concerned of how and what the students were learning. I started off teaching lessons that were teacher-based, now moving toward student-centered. What I realized over the past week is that I really do care about my students success and their growth with the English language. I take pride in being a teacher (which is hard because I am not properly trained to be one). I am happy to be a teacher for these next few months, but it’s not a job that I will be doing say 5 years from now.

Next for me? That is something that is still to be determined. I’m not sure what the future holds exactly, but I know one thing for sure is that I am still mobile and not ready to settle down yet. Maybe I’ll be a city near you next.

Cheers to another great year, wherever I am.
Perry

 

 

Vietnam & Vinh City

1am struck. I made it. Finally arriving in Vinh, I was tired and sweaty yet surprisingly happy. And I had every right to be. I landed in my new city for the next year. I was excited to experience what Vinh has to offer. All I needed was a hot shower and a good nights rest first. Unfortunately, I only got one of the two. 

Waking up at 9am the next day for orientation, I was exhausted but excited to explore my new city. After orientation, a few of the other foreign teachers showed me around and I learned how to ride a bike in Vietnam. You’d think it would be the same… but the rules of the road are “a bit” different here. Here’s a quick breakdown. There are no rules and don’t get hit. (More about this later).

If this sounds scary, you’re correct – it is. Drivers here know the exact size of there car and how fast they can go to not hit anyone. Incorporate that with motorbikes weaving in and out of roads and you have traffic in Vietnam. It’s the definition of wild.  But I do have to say, I’m getting it down and it’s been just a month. 

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And in this month, I have learned a lot about the city and the country.  For one, Vietnam itself is hot and humid. The weather forecast may say 85 degrees, but the humidity is anywhere from 50-90% making it “feel like” 100+ degrees. Because of this, I am sweating constantly. Many of the teachers shower twice a day to be clean and sweat free. 

Another interesting tidbit about the country is that because of the heat, almost all stores and shops will close at high noon (11am-1pm) to avoid the heat, eat lunch, and take a nap. Siesta exists in Vietnam! Who knew? It gets surprisingly quiet during this time too. Traffic is riddled with honking but what I love about Vinh is that at night, everyone goes home and the streets are quiet and peaceful.

Vinh compared to other cities is cheap. Wicked cheap. CHEAP AF. A bowl of pho in America can run you anywhere from $8-10. Here it costs D25,000 ($1.10). Most meals eating out won’t cost more than D70,000 ($3.10) and that’s a fancy dinner. The majority of foreign teachers will opt to eat out rather than cook because its so inexpensive and theres no clean up. On top of that, going to the grocery store and cooking cost as much if not more to cook.

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Of course there are things that I miss back in America. Low humidity weather. Craft Beer. And of course, food. There are no tortillas to be found here! I miss tacos…

It’s a lot of new but I am adjusting and enjoying the time I have here.  More updates to come.
Perry