Hanoi, Vietnam: My Last Days in Asia

Since I’ve spent so many nights longing to go back to the USA, it feels surreal to finally say that today is my last day here in Vietnam.  I’m so happy and relieved to finally be going back home!  I am looking forward to tackling my law school applications with full force, and I am excited to find a new job and place to live!  I am also anxious to see the people who are very important to me, and of course, to feast on fresh bagels and cream cheese. FEAST MODE! Ah, and to go to the nice quiet libraries. And to go running in nice, open sidewalks.  And to be reunited with my car.   And to have craft beer!!!!!

My last week in Asia has been spent in Hanoi with my mother.  After our action-packed trip to Sapa, we decided to stay in one place and explore it thoroughly rather than to spend long hours traveling from city to city by bus.

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The Sapaning

Now that I’ve finished the LSAT and my job teaching English in Quinhon, I’m doing some touring around North Vietnam….with my mom!  It’s a welcome change to be experiencing different parts of this country as a tourist, and with an excellent traveling companion, no less!

Since both my mom and I have been really busy/distracted in the weeks preceding this trip, we made barely any plans. One place we did want to visit was Sapa, a small and beautiful mountain town near the border of China.

We booked the bus tickets for our trip from our hotel receptionist, a cheerful guy who referred to himself as La La.  The bus to Sapa was pretty nice. It had seats that you could lie flat, big windows, and a little bathroom in the back.  It was nonstop and quiet.

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Stuff I Did in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Here’s what I did during my short stint in KL. (Other than take the LSAT, haha.)

 

  1. KUALA LUMPUR BIRD PARK, KL Bird Park, 920, Jalan Cenderawasih, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    1. Entrance fee was about 50 ringgits, or $13 USD. The park was really big, and going there was way more fun than I had expected. There’s something majestic about being surrounded by giant, weird birds.  Highlight of the trip was the emus, by far. Oh, and the monkeys were cute.

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The LSAT Abroad

When I began my journey teaching English in Asia this past May, I also began my journey as a law school applicant.  If you’re not from the United States, you are confused right now.  You may be thinking Doesn’t she already have a university degree?  Yes, I do! But in the US, if you want to be a lawyer, you need a 4-year bachelor’s degree (does not matter the subject), a 3-year law school degree, and a passing score on something called the bar exam.

The application process to get into law school is grueling and difficult. One of the most important pieces of the application is your score on something called the LSAT.  The LSAT measures your ability to think quickly and logically. It consists of six sections, takes about four hours, and is really, really hard.

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No More Baggage: Taking on Kuala Lumpur

Every single time I’ve flown with connections, it goes like this: You check your bag before your first flight and get it after your last. Well, yesterday it didn’t work like that.  I checked one bag in Quinhon, Vietnam and it never made it to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  I could tell something out-of-the-ordinary was happening with my flights when I only received one boarding pass in Quinhon, and had to go through security again in Saigon. I thought it was odd, but no one told me I would have to get my bag and recheck it before departing to Kuala Lumpur.  All they gave me was a miniscule stub of paper that, of course, I lost. And apparently since I lost that paper that had the number of my bag on it, it’s highly unlikely that I will see my stuff again. Really sucks. Perhaps I should have double checked out my suitcase, but Vietnam Airlines should make it clearer to passengers that they need to recheck their bags with each connecting flight.

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The Rest is Rust

The other day, I was out for a jog. Three men spotted me, and I made the mistake of making eye contact.  So they started chasing me. I glanced at their flip-flops and in that moment chose flight over fight, and sprinted as fast I could away from them. I ended up out of breath behind a hotel. There, a young white man spotted me and waved me over.  He was a bright eyed and bushy-tailed American, fresh off the plane, ready and eager to start a life in Quinhon.  He asked me how I liked the city, and I said, well it’s okay. He looked taken aback.  Just okay? Everyone he’d talked to loved it and never wanted to leave. I told him the reason I’m so out of breath is because I had just run away from a few men chasing me.  He shrugged and said, “Well, you’re a cute girl.”

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What’s Worked for Me in the Classroom

I teach for three more days and then have three days off before leaving Quinhon forever.  The three months I’ve spent here have been surreal, sort of like a learn-about-yourself-bootcamp. I have to say, I’m pretty goddamn proud of myself for making it through, since it hasn’t been easy.  The hardest part about the expat life here is the communication and culture barrier. However, the time I’ve spent trying to understand these barriers, while difficult, has also been the best part about living here, hands down.  Should be interesting to integrate these new perspectives into life back in the USA in only 22 days!

Another bright part of my time here in Quinhon has been teaching. My happiest moments here have been in front of the classroom. I’m no expert teacher, but I figured I’d write a post about some teaching tips and tricks that have helped me, because more often than not you won’t get any training in Vietnam before your first class, haha.

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10 Reasons I’m Over Vietnam

  1. Noise
    1. Like clockwork at 7AM the city wakes up with a roar. This past week, some people have been drilling loudly in the room above me for some reason. Also a neighbor got a new puppy and it shrieks non-stop from dawn till dusk.
  2. Vicious Traffic
    1. I suppose part of the growing pains for being a developing country is an increased amount of motorbikes and trucks on the road. But Vietnam really needs to make some traffic laws to keep up with this growth. Drivers feel entitled to pass too close to you at breakneck speed, and every truck or car is equipped with a horn so loud it will make your ears bleed.
  3. Bugs
    1. Ants will appear moments after a single crumb drops to the floor.

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Sexual Harassment is Sexual Harassment.

Last night my Macbook’s charger broke. It was old; it’s time was done. So, this morning I had to get a new one. Seems like a simple enough task, right?

Wrong.

I left my hotel room wearing a long sun dress (one hundred degrees, 80% humidity).  And, as I walked the streets in search of an electronics store, the invasive shouts and stares of men left me with not a moment’s peace.

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Cat Tien, Vietnam and Misadventures on the Motorbike

Yesterday was Independence Day for Vietnam! I thought things would be a little crazier, given the Vietnameses’ penchant for techno and flashy lights, but all in all the scene was pretty chill. The only thing that made it different from any other day was the fact that the school wasn’t open. Woot woot!

After spending the morning working on my law apps, I decided to take my motorbike on an adventure. I ended up in a little town 25km outside Quinhon, called Cat Tien (not to be confused with Cat Tien National Park).  The drive there was beautiful and flat. Full of sand dunes and breezes.

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