MOVING TO VIETNAM
Long time no talk, and I have so much I want to tell you! Since we last talked, and as you may know, I moved to Vietnam! One of the wildest things I have decided to do, and so beyond exciting getting settled. I moved in the middle of September.. Jumped on a plane, all my documents in hand, two very overweight suitcases, Moosey (of course), a backpack, and I was off (granted a lot of prep work with my program was put in beforehand, to get everything in order).
Boston to New York, JFK; JFK to Seoul, South Korea; Seoul to Hanoi, Vietnam. Multiple flights, layovers, and 29 hours of travel later: One very tired girl landed in Hanoi.
What a crazy experience that was; no idea what to expect, no idea how to communicate with anyone, and no idea what I was getting myself into. Hungry, drained, and to be honest, pretty scared. Complete zombie status, I got my Visa on Arrival in the airport, my passport stamped, and I picked up my bags. It was all a blur.
Lived in a hotel (No, not what you’re imagining, but thats besides the point) for a month. Along with the two other girls arriving with the same program that I met when I arrived. I was glad to know I had them (and all of you) to share this experience with. A weekend of getting shown around the city and, just like that— we were on our own! Thrown into teaching and thrown into chaotic Hanoi.
First off, My Job:
Teaching is no joke. It is exhausting work, for sure. Especially starting out with no idea what you are doing. A few weeks went by, eventually the jet lag wore off, and I was getting more comfortable with everything. The kids are so sweet and respectful, most of them at least. It really is neat to see their progress each week. I teach 9 separate classes (ages 3-12), each meeting once a week for 1.5-2 hours (depending on the grade).
Such a different dynamic class-to-class and grade-to-grade. To be honest, they do make me smile, especially the preschoolers. They have no idea what I am saying and I equally have no idea what they are saying. They just run around like little pups and repeat whatever I say. Teaching them along with teaching myself how to teach them. Overall, it is rewarding.
These are some of my classes on Vietnamese Teacher’s Day and around the Holidays. (Yes, the orange is in your face… Hello, good morning!)
[Not shown: my older, sassier students]
As I mentioned, the first month we were put up in a hotel so we could have time to get our feet on the ground and search for an apartment. After searching a bit, I finally settled in on one. First time doing the whole house searching process all alone. Since living here for 4 months, I absolute adore it. I find it is a good location, size, and comfort. I am very pleased with it!
I got a motorbike couple weeks in, and it was time to hit the streets. From an outsiders perspective, the traffic flow is beyond overwhelming, but once you are part of it, it is not as bad as it looks, really! It’s synchronicity flows pretty well, and it just works. Yes, there are the times it doesn’t, but for the most part it does.
Going through intersections, weaving and dodging the bikes coming from all other directions, it looks like complete mayhem. Just forget about the rules you learned in driving school, they don’t exist. Red light? Forget about it. Stop sign? Nah. Right blinker? No chance they’re actually turning. Left blinker? Probably turned left 20 minutes ago. Car merging in? Yes, watch out! They actually won’t stop.
Oh, and for the horn, be prepared to use it any moment you feel like it— Passing someone on the left, passing someone on the right, not even passing anyone, driving on the wrong side, driving on the right side, solely if you feel like you want to let people know you exist. Honestly, when I say anytime, I mean ANYTIME. It is the only thing you hear on the roads, so just tune them out after a while, I guess.
Since being here, I’ve only been in 1 accident (I’m ok), oh and when my bike decided to stop in the middle of crowded traffic, forcing me to roll it to the side of the street through the three lanes of gridlocked bikers all revving up at the red light. That was good… But in all seriousness it has been really helpful to have a convenient form of transportation. It makes the city seem a lot smaller and way more manageable.
Hanoi is actually pretty big and is split up into different districts. I knew nothing about this city before coming here, only that it was Vietnam’s capital and was the “sleepy city” compared to Ho Chi Minh City.
It is definitely the biggest city that i’ve ever lived in. There is a good mix between western influence and authenticity. But everything is pretty accessible, I guess that is except for the 3,000 winding alleyways you could get lost in, on your way to find one simple restaurant. Other than that, it is a good mix.
Chaos but organized chaos, kind of…