This time last week, I was at the airport getting ready to board my flight to Hanoi. I had no apartment, no job, and no plan of action. Since then, a lot has changed and I find myself getting excited about the way in which things are going!
Chris and I unfortunately decided to go our separate ways shortly after arriving. I have spent the passed few nights at Andoni and Jess’ place in Royal City. It’s a beautiful little apartment that overlooks the whole of Hanoi. I’m so grateful to them for taking me in and giving me somewhere to temporarily live. At the same time, I have also been helping them with their evening classes, which they host from Monday to Thursday at their home. It’s really good practice for me for when I myself actually start teaching. The children can be challenging but are always eager to learn new English words and phrases. I admire the fact that they spend most of their day in school, and then still have the energy to attend evening classes and learn even more.
On Monday, I spent the day exploring the streets around Royal City and getting to know some of the locals. I find myself often drawing comparisons between the people here and those back home in South Africa. For example, I saw three old Vietnamese men sitting outside a cafe the other day, playing checkers and drinking coffee. They hardly spoke with one another but you could see that they enjoyed each other’s company. This reminded me of the old men I’d see outside this Greek cafe by my home in Jo’burg, who would sit and play tavli (backgammon) while drinking coffee and, again, not speaking. I must say, it was quite funny. Nothing changes, really.
Ever since I’ve arrived here, I haven’t stopped running around and organising CVs/jobs and trying to get to know the city and and and and and. So yesterday I spent the day in, watching trashy series and taking long naps. I needed a bit of time to myself to re-energise my body and mind so that I would be able to continue my job search. And in a way, I guess you could say it worked! Today I had an interview with Apax English Centre and will be starting with them on Monday next week. I am thrilled about working with Apax since they offer a really good salary, accommodation, health benefits, and paid days off. The only not-problem is that I may have to move to Ha Long Bay to teach at their new centre there, which I am definitely not complaining about. It means that I will be much closer to the beach, and will be living in an environment with less pollution and less people.
Now that I have an actual job I feel as though I can truly breathe. Even though I’m still waiting to settle into this job and organise an apartment (and work visa), I feel slightly less stressed than I was last week. I decided to spend today doing all the touristy things I wanted to do before I would no longer have time to do them. I visited the Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts, which was just breathtaking. The lower floor showcased sculptures and grand carvings from ancient times, whilst the upper levels exhibited artwork both old and new.
After grabbing a bowl of chicken noodles for lunch, I then headed to the Vietnamese Women’s Museum. I was so touched by all the stories housed in those halls; stories about women in farming and stories about women in war. Each floor of the museum showed different ways in which Vietnamese women contributed to society, and honoured the work that they did. It was something I will never forget.