It's been about 2 months now and I feel more settled and less overwhelmed about everything. I won't pretend like transitioning from Western culture is easy, but I'm liking it more and more everyday.
A lot has happened lately -- I moved out of my bedroom at the share house and moved into a place with 5 other expats. Let me tell you: This house is INSANE. 9 floors, 7 bedrooms (each with private bathroom), rooftop terrace, completely furnished, including two TVs and movie channels. There's no way in hell I'd be able to afford something like this working as a teacher and freelancer outside of Southeast Asia. We have a house cleaner because that's a totally standard, affordable thing to do here. Sara and I looked at the house just for fun because we didn't think there was any way we could gather 6 people, but we were taken aback by the price, size, and location, so we went into machine mode to collect roommates.
We've got a nice little American/European combination in the house: Shannon from D.C., Luke from Alabama, Sara from Edinburgh, Naomi from Galway, and Jan from the South of France. We're all teaching other than Jan, who's here on an internship. We've got a nice little vibe going where we all naturally congregate on the rooftop after work.
I've been spending my days working 8-5:30, eating out almost every night (or ordering in, because you can get delivery from ANYWHERE), riding to work on the back of motorbikes driven by locals via the GrabBike app, unwinding at rooftop bar happy hours, partying on Bui Vien ("backpacker street"), working out at California Fitness, and sunbathing on rooftop pools like a total spoiled diva. If this sounds ridiculous, you'd be correct. This lifestyle is ridiculous... #onlyinsoutheastasia. Two months ago I was sleeping in a hostel dorm room, scrounging for leftover food from previous guests, knowing that I was expendable. What a drastic change it's been.
But as much as my Snapchats make it look like this is the life, it's not sunshine all the time. It's different here, and sometimes it's frustrating when you're used to the world functioning a certain way. There's a huge variation in what is considered "common sense", so being culturally sensitive is crucial. Normal customer service here could be considered smothering by someone not used to being followed step-by-step around a store. It is not socially acceptable for Vietnamese women to drink, so going out with your Vietnamese TAs isn't going to happen. There are no rules of the road and crossing the street is a constant battle. Karaoke venues function as brothels and dance clubs are laden with prostitutes. You have to accept the fact that you will regularly get stomach illnesses because sanitation standards are not like back home. The pollution will destroy your complexion.
But after all is said and done, pros outweigh the cons. I feel settled for the most part. As of now, I plan to stay and teach for about 8 months, which I think is adequate time to soak up this place and save some cash. This place is a photographer's dream, btw. I've got folders on folders of stuff that I have yet to sort through.
Did I mention that my house has a guest room? You're all welcome any time. ;)
P.S. Dad, I promise I'm writing a post about teaching... coming soon!
Forgive me for the lack of cohesion between the photos and the written narrative: