One Month Later, in Vietnam.

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.

17622263_1578184102192947_1518307075_oBesides 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.

17571283_1578184012192956_191711479_oAt 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.

 

Center of Gravity

I won’t even mention how fresh everything feels outside the confines of the apartment; the sea of motorbikes, chickens everywhere– living, dead, or somewhere in between– a symphony of honks, dogs barking, roosters crowing, and construction. So, if ever it feels like things have gone back to what they were, all the new things I am experiencing and will experience flood into my head. I welcome the madness that is Hanoi.

(Part of the Daily Prompt Challenge)

Today marks the end of my fifth day in Hanoi, Vietnam. Traveling with limited funds has forced me to postpone my backpacking travels and return to a somewhat civilian life– at least in the sense of routines, a room to call my own, possessions beyond what I can carry on my back, etc. I can’t deny that it all feels a little contradictory. Originally, I set out on my journey to ditch the very things that I now find myself searching for in Hanoi: a job, a motorbike, clothes so I don’t look like a homeless backpacker at the new job I am in search of.

While backpacking I had no center of gravity and could float free around the country on a whim, writing my own journey as if it were a blog post where I could add, remove, or  edit whatever parts I want in an effort to make it my own– to make it me. It wasn’t so much of a balancing act; it resembled more of a unilateral push towards one thing, which was travel and explore. As a new resident of Hanoi, I am search to find that center of balance I was so intent on ditching as a new traveler just under three months ago.

At first glance, it seems as if all has all doubled-back on itself, reverted to what it used to be. However, this is far from the case. I need only to step outside my room in the fourth floor of a five-story house to be reminded of this. I won’t even mention how fresh everything feels outside the confines of the apartment; the sea of motorbikes, chickens everywhere– living, dead, or somewhere in between– a symphony of honks, dogs barking, roosters crowing, and construction.  So, if ever it feels like things have gone back to what they were, all the new things I am experiencing and will experience flood into my head. I welcome the madness that is Hanoi. I welcome the hunt for a job that has me obsessively writing cover-letters, sending resumes, and hoping for the interview.

Like I said before, this is a balancing act again– albeit a new one. Things that got pushed too far away from the center through traveling or by other means, whether by choice or habit, fell off. Hell, some things should’ve fallen off… some things still need to fall off. Meanwhile, there are other things, the things that fell off a while ago and need to be picked up and placed along the center again. This is exciting as hell as it gives me the chance to pick and choose what I want in my life again.

So, in effect, this new balancing act doesn’t contradict my original journey after all.

They are separate yet syncopated.