Jeez! It has been a month since my last post. I could blame it on trying to find structure again. But, in reality, there is no scapegoat in this situation. Adjusting to real life in Hanoi was a little more difficult than I anticipated. Don’t get me wrong, the first 2 weeks were great. I met many new people and went to many different bars, museums, etc. However, vacation in Hanoi ended and soon after I began actively seeking work.
Besides my weekend outdoor gig, where I take kids to the park and play games in English while incorporating useful vocabulary, I was really not happy. It seemed that all the cover classes I found were in environments that were simply not conducive to learning. Additionally, I was surprised that many of the kids did not want to learn. I take teaching seriously; I am in charge of their learning outcomes. I do not want to be part of something that is not beneficial to either party, even if I recieve money for it.
In a way it was humbling, sure. Did it give me a new perspective from when I was a student and witnessed some teachers struggling with a particulary mean class? Yes, absolutely. Personally, however, I quickly found myself feeling more like a clown/ babysitter than a teacher. In Vietnam, they have a name for that: “monkey teachers.” It started to wear me down. It triggered in me a little depressive episode where I contemplated leaving Hanoi with the little money I had and continuing my trip until I ran out of money again. An acquaintance did that very same thing just a week before I experienced these feelings, and while I did not know the true reason he had for leaving, I found that I could relate to what he might have experienced. However, I knew myself and I knew the nature of settling down in a new environment. Moving and resettling is not new to me. I actually think it used to be too easy for me. Perhaps it’s becoming harder now that I am getting older. So, I told myself to ride the waves. I reassured myself that life consists of ups and downs and that feelings come and go. I won’t lie, the idea of “faking it until I make it” was helpful.
At the beginning of last week, I decided to spam my application to various centers indiscrimnately. By casting a wide net I felt like I could find an English center that had the resources and students that I felt were suitable to what I wanted to do. I went to various interviews, some of which I was not qualified for and some for which I was not totally prepared for. I went anyways. By doing that, I think I finally found a center that will work for me and I had my first lesson on Wednesday. They said it went really well, which was great to hear. Over the last month I’ve learned that doing well in one’s role as teacher, is extremely uplifting– more so than in many other jobs I’ve had.
For now, it looks as if things are on the up. I have paid most of the major expenses for the next three months (rent, motorbike, laptop repair), so now I can focus on saving up and planning my bycicle trip through Vietnam, Cambodia, and the South of Thailand.
My major expenses so far: ($1 US is equal to 22,000 VD)
Rent = 3.125 million VD/month paid in three months at a time + 3 million VD/month. (Total: 12.5 million VD + 1 million VD/month utilities)
Motorbike = 300,000 VD/week or 1.2 million VD/month.
After paying rent, I didn’t have enough money to purchase a motorbike (average for a manual bike is 4.5-6 million VD). So, I am renting until the 14th.