Monday, August 23, 2010

As I sit on my couch, watching reruns of Cougar Town on a channel called Star World while eating green sticky rice ice cream out of the carton with a child-size spoon that I bought for 2,000VND at Fivimart, I realize that after living for almost two weeks in Hanoi, I am, consciously or not, starting to adapt.

After teaching math at a New England boarding school for five years, moving to Hanoi, Vietnam was a huge change. I say that I spent the past five years 'teaching math', but what that truly entailed was so much more. I filled the proverbial 'triple-threat' model perfectly. I taught a full load of four courses, coached two varsity sports, and lived in the dorm. Yet, even that more detailed explanation does not even begin to describe my life for those five years. Within that time and within that boarding-school-bubble, I had some of my own personal highest highs and lowest lows. This is not to say that I have never felt greater happiness or more intense loss in my life outside of those five years, but it was in that time that I had the most influential internal developments. And change never does come easily. But I guess that is what I get for spending my early-to-mid twenties in the middle of nowhere while living in the dorm with a bunch of teenagers. Somehow I always felt ten years older or ten years younger than I actually was...

And that is why I needed the ultimate change. I could have stayed at boarding school. I could have accepted my spot at Columbia Teacher's College to earn my Master's degree in Educational Psychology. Instead, I chose to live in Hanoi, Vietnam from August 2010 to June 2011. I could not have made a more extreme move.

I have always made the practical, logical choices in life. Moving to Hanoi, especially in light of the Columbia option, was neither practical nor logical. But there was something drawing me there, or here, as we now have it. One thing that I have become aware of in the past few years is the idea of fate and intuition. Without divulging any embarrassing stories (it's only my first post!), I will say that I have learned that my intuition is strong, and that I should listen to it and obey without doubt. Whether it was intuition, fate, God, or complete delusion on my part, something kept pulling me to Vietnam.

After being here for two weeks, I have no idea what that thing was. After a 27+ hour travel day, I arrived in the Hanoi airport around 10pm. I was fetched by the director of my program and dropped off at a supposedly 'fully furnished' apartment located on a street with no name that was filled with the smells of motorbike exhaust and grilled duck (or maybe that was dog?). Apparently, 'fully furnished' does not include a mattress or any kitchen supplies. I spent that first night on the couch, and woke up with a start. The first words out of my mouth were 'wtf. what the hell was I thinking? what am I doing here?'
To backtrack, I am an all-American girl. I have blond hair, blue eyes, a love for sports, an addiction to sugar, and a religious penchant for US Weekly magazine. I had only just begun to travel and think about the outside world in the summer of 2009. In the past year, I have visited and spent at least two weeks each in South Africa, China, Ecuador, the Galapagos, and now, Vietnam. Maybe I have caught the travel bug? Or maybe I am insatiable...continuing to search for something that I can neither define nor locate. The kicker is that whatever I am looking for is most likely not in another country, but is something I must find within myself. But that is life, isn't it? Everyone is always searching for something. Is contentment ever a reality?

I guess it doesn't really matter. My search has led me to Hanoi, and that is where my blog is supposed to begin. I suppose all of this is just the prologue. And now, I have exhausted myself before I have even begun. Therefore, my first post about me, a single 27 year-old blond girl living in Hanoi, can be summed up in one short and concise statement assuming that my choices are the same as any living thing; to adapt, migrate, or become extinct. So far, I choose to adapt.