Visa application process has started, or not even really, and already I want to tear my hair out. Between the UK, Japan, Vietnam and Korea, Korea is definitely the worst. Forgot how much fun this will be.
To console myself I bought a frilly matching sleepwear set at the supermarket this morning, so I’m just going to live in that for the rest of the weekend while piling sand over my head.
My Kobo just froze for the first time and I had to resort to watching an excruciatingly long how-to video made by a nine year-old to figure out how to fix it (stick a paper clip in the hole at the bottom). Definitely one of those oh shit, I’m so much older than I thought I was moments.
On Wednesday evening I was marveling to my friend about how I haven’t been properly sick more than once in nearly two years since I left London, so it’s hardly surprising that I woke up at 3 am on Thursday with a doozy of a sinus cold. My entire class has been passing one around, so I really shouldn’t have tempted fate like that.
It was a very long day at work. My nasal passages are a gurgling brook, and my head is boulder-heavy. I don’t bear head colds with grace and quiet acceptance. Instead I self-pityingly trudged my way through the day and came home to eat chips and drink pop (my sickness comfort treats from when I was a kid). I attempted to escape early into sleep, but all that got me was some half-asleep nightmares about the horrible news of yesterday, and continued throbbing from my sinuses.
I gave up on sleep after a couple of hours and decided the situation called for Chef’s mum’s favorite cold remedy: a home sauna. I boiled a big pot of water with garlic, ginger, lemon grass and lemon tossed in, then sat naked in front of it with a sheet draped over myself and slowly released the lid and inhaled the steam until I had rivers of sweat streaming out of every pore. One of the many reasons I can be glad to have known Chef is having been introduced to this remedy. Whether it cures or not, it certainly delivers immediate comfort at the time. A sauna and a good dose of cold and sinus medicine, and now maybe I’ll actually get to sleep tonight. If only all the world’s problems could be so easily soothed.
reading a foreign language: yeah
writing in a foreign language: ok
listening to a foreign language: wait
speaking in a foreign language: fuck
Scientific breakdown of my language acquisition capabilities.
Nearing the top of my Things I’ll Miss About Vietnam list is eating locally grown mango or passionfruit every day for breakfast. After nearly a year this still feels totally luxurious, like I’m starting every day at a holiday resort.
After taking Vietnamese lessons twice a week since October, I’m now at the point where I can glacially respond to simple, easy questions (if my teacher also speaks really slowly and says everything twice that is), and have an extremely short and basic conversation. Up until about a month ago I couldn’t do any of that, but suddenly it felt like everything I’d been learning was beginning to fall into place and allowing me to halfway function in this language. I still have about zero practice in my daily life, but that’s still my own fault for not pushing myself to converse more. Despite this though, I’m kind of a tiny bit proud of myself for even getting this far in a language I was starting to worry was actually just impossible for me to learn.
Buut, I stopped lessons with my teacher two weeks ago. I’d had a plan to try and change teachers as my last one was often ridiculously unprofessional, and her teaching style was a lot of grilling me on vocab in a way I could do alone for free. However, now that I’m leaving in three months I’m not sure what to do. Should I start Vietnamese lessons again with a new teacher to solidify what I’ve learned? Or should I scrap it altogether and start studying Korean again in preparation for my move? I can see benefits to both, but I’m so indecisive!
Update: it looks like (as in I guess I really am) moving to Bundang in August. This has been a fast and difficult decision, but I think (I hope—can you sense the uncertainty here?) it will be the right one. As soon as Chef flipped the switch I had thoughts of escape from my life here, and my inner voice shouted “go back to where you were last happiest”. Of all the cities I’ve lived in, Seoul has remained my favourite, so I decided to put out some light feelers to some international schools there. I emailed about four and two got back to me which led to interviews and two job offers, one in Seocho-gu and one in Bundang. I’ve decided to go with the latter, as they’re teaching an entirely Canadian curriculum, which is what I trained in. I’ll be teaching grade 7 homeroom, including math, which terrifies me a little, but I have high hopes. It will be a butt load of work I know, but I think teaching a curriculum I know with Canadian administrators and staff will be worth it. They seem to be marketing the school as a way for Korean kids to opt out of Korea’s intense education system and be educated in Canada while still be able to stay at home with their families, which actually seems like a pretty worthy goal. Sure, this is still an option that only exists for the wealthy, but I knew a mom who sent her son to Canada and chose to live everyday missing him instead of sending him to school for free in Korea. Education is kind of insane everywhere these days, I don’t really think there exists a perfect school, public or private.
I am pretty heartbroken to be leaving Vietnam, but also can’t wait to get away from it. I believe this is known as bittersweet. As usual I’ve made some amazing friends and had some great experiences here. I will miss the mountains and the sea and the palm trees and the sweet strong coffees and fresh delicious food to be had everywhere. However, I will not miss feeling always like death is around the corner, and driving home with tense muscles every day trying to stay alert on the bike. My new school will be a ten minute walk from my apartment. Another big reason to move is that Da Nang is, as my co-worker put it, “no place for a single white female.” This place is manland like no other, but not in the a good way. I’m sure things in Hanoi or Saigon are better, but if I think the traffic is scary here it’s jokes compared to those places. Nope, I’m excited to return to a city life with access to subways, art, music, parks and entertainment. And four seasons! Yes, I’m quite looking forward to doing autumn again, even if it means I have to put up with winter.
Anyway, now to enjoy my last three months in Da Nang to the fullest!
Why isn’t every Wednesday spent eating mounds of fresh seafood on a beach side restaurant overlooking the clear blue sea? WHY?
Relaxed to the max after my favourite kind of boring weekend. I stayed in on Friday night to watch tv and eat ice cream, and blissfully slept in both Saturday and Sunday mornings. I went out for coffee a couple times, bought some new workout clothes, watched more tv, read, ate Korean food on Saturday and duck porridge tonight, went to yoga, didn’t do a single bit of school work, and listened to a very talented woman sing in a candlelit cafe.
The weather has still been so fantastically sunny without being hot yet. I think I could happily make up my mind to stay here if it weren’t for the fear of having an unexpected tragic accident, which still feels like a real possibility every time I get on my bike. How exactly do people pack that fear away and not think about it?