Sunday, January 31, 2010

Quickie

Really quickly:
1. I am a third wheel here sometimes. More than sometimes. And I forgot what it felt like. I have been so spoiled with Alex. I didn't remember what it was like to be the one without another half. :(

2. Sometimes the lights here just turn out. No rhyme or reason. Sometimes it's for five minutes, sometimes it's for five hours.

3. My bathroom has no light.

4. Someone stole my black tank top. seriously.

Given to Fly or in my case...Ride



I'd like to start off by saying that I only JUST realized that some people have been commenting on my actual blog. My apologies for not responding...I don't get notified! But I went through the comments last night and love them. keep sending them my way.

This weekend was a good one. Friday night, I had a girls night with my friend Trang and she brought me to this great Pho area not written about in the guidebooks that knocked my socks off. seriously amazing. The night was fun. The only downside is when she told me that I look like Celine Dion. don't worry though-just my mouth and nose. Um. that's the worrying part.

So far, since getting here I have been compared to Paris Hilton, a cat, and Celine Dion. Paris I get in the US, and while I don't agree with it have gotten over it. Celine Dion I am not sure I will recover from, and cats are cool. Vietnamese people are not afraid to tell you the truth to your face. Like, "Yes Alice, I can see where your nose is broken, there is a big bump." Of course this is a bit of a sucker punch, however it's more than my westerner friends say to my face. I guess I needed to come here to hear the truth. I've always hated my nose, but once it got broken I hated it even more. Coming here has solidified my decision to fix the break when I get back. I'll do my best to resist the urge to make it a cute nose too. Just fix what's broken. And by the way no comments of "your nose is fine" and "I can't even tell that it's broken" is going to stop this. I don't trust any of you.

Saturday, as you know, I got my bike and have instilled a constant state of panic in the heart of my parents and loved ones. Saturday night was wild...early to bed after scarfing down some Oreos and chocolate ice cream :) :) :)

Today was another AMAZING DAY! The weather outside was sunny and warm...perfect for a drive! Still slightly unsteady I expected my friend to drive but for some reason he thought letting me drive would be good practice. We started on some scenic back roads (at one point the terrain was too bumpy and we had to switch...Chip mumbled something about "not wanting to get killed" which I thought was rude)

Then all of a sudden we were on a main road and I thought...ok I can either switch places or I can learn how to do this. I didn't help that Chip said, "This is the road I crashed on." I mean, really...not the time.

Driving here is crazy. Utter insanity. You can not for a single second concentrate on anything else. I truly believe this will make me a better driver in the US. Driving is ok, the intersections are tough (to be honest we did almost crash once) but after I got the hang of it, it was smooth sailing. Even Chip said that I was doing a really good job and that he wasn't scared at all. All I need to do is concentrate, go slow at the turns and intersections and I should be good to go.

In my driving adventures, I got a amazing backpackers backpack...Northface for only $8...and more amazing Pho. I seriously can't wait to take my father to these places. I really hope he isn't too scared to hop on my bike.

I think the key to my bike riding is practice, but also having a calm, patient teacher. I was thinking the whole day, how I wished that Alex was here and how we could be doing this together. But then I thought that if Alex had been the one teaching me to ride a motorbike we would've gotten into a fight and I would've driven off or jumped off the bike and refused to get back on :) It's hard to teach or be taught by someone you love. to much emotion, passion, energy.

Tomorrow is back to reality...teaching little kiddies, finding a garage to park my bike and dealing with the organization. the upside of the mundane week? regular skype dates.

And for those of you who want to know things (not people) that I miss the most? Right now it's my low waisted Rag&Bone skinny jeans.

Til net time xo

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Get your motor runnin'...Head out on the highway...Lookin' for adventure... And whatever comes our way



I got a motorcycle today.

It was one of those things that I decided I wanted the second I got here and saw that I was a trek to the city. I need to feel that I can get there whenever I need my urban living fix.

To me it is completely irrelevant that I 1. can not drive a motorcycle 2. don't know my way around Hanoi 3. the traffic here is psycho...a death trap

Today was a beautiful day in Hanoi...mid 70s and sunny. Chip and I headed down to the city and met up with Trang, who negotiated a good deal for my motorcycle and next thing I knew I had the keys to this vehicle and I was quite dumbfounded by it all.

My friends took me to a less populated area of the city to "learn how to ride" and let's just say my confidence wasn't exactly boosted after this lesson. More like I was completely horrified. I informed Chip that he would be driving the twenty five minutes home because if I dared to then there would (with utmost certainty) be damage to both me and the bike.

Once back in my quieter hood, I was taken to a pretty much deserted road (except for the random family of five cows-two of them were babies-walking down the road) and told to knock myself out and ride around until I got the hang of it. I did! Then I tried driving someone else. Harder. But I think I will be ok. Practice makes perfect.

I have to do my best to not suffer from ACFCS (Alice Carney false confidence syndrome) something that afflicts me a lot. I get semi decent at something and feel invincible. Until something bad happens, like I tumble down a huge hill in my rollerskates and have to be taken to the ER. or I back into a parked tractor on my street. Or a mailbox. The list can, unfortunately, go on, and I am sure there are some of you who would LOVE to relive ACFCS moments...but I am hoping that I have learned from them and won't create any stellar memories on my motorbike here in hanoi.

For instance, it was TEMPTING to go for a drive tonight and get dinner but I decided not to. I WANT to drive into town tomorrow but I will not. I will cruise around my hood for a bit and get the hang of it before I really drive into dangerous territory.

I would like to take a side note and thank Trang and Chip, who don't read this blog so it's meaningless, for all of their help. they essentially spent their Saturday helping me and making sure that i was able to get what i wanted. So it is very much appreciated.

Anyway, my adventures keep getting more and more interesting by the day....and I wish I could blog every single detail but I can not. So for today I will leave you all with the image of me driving a motorcycle around town. And after you do that, question the sanity of the motorbike company who let me have possession of a bike.
And ask yourself if you think my father will let me drive him around when he visits at the end of February. Let me know your thoughts.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I've Got Nine Lives...Cat's Eyes


This should've been the title for my previous post, however I was just now rocking out to ACDC and this lyric struck me...I can relate with it now

So the last two days have been interesting and exciting. Last night, I went into Hanoi because my friend Trang has opened a tour company and it was the opening night party. i took the opportunity to not only support my friend, but also to BUY A MAP and wander around the streets a bit and learn the city.

It turns out Hanoi is pretty easy to learn. I am BY NO MEANS an expert and will most likely get lost but I do not find the city as daunting as much as I used to. I need a couple more day trips to wander around and figure it out. I bought a map but I am challenged at reading a map...I might as well be reading Vietnamese. I mean, I can't even tell my rights and lefts. I work off of landmarks.

So the evening was a success, both personally for me and also for my friend Trang. I hope her business succeeds.

I came home, had dinner and at 2AM woke up realizing that the dinner really didn't agree with me. I, like so many girls before me, joke about being one stomach flu away from their target weight, late night food poisoning is no fun. Especially when you have to teach eight classes the next day. I actually had to run out of two classes. My tummy is settled now but I am still slightly traumatized.

Teaching, by the way, is not a breeze. I thought it would be easy. It's not. You have to prepare lessons, engage the students, and then above everything else present the material in a way that they will LEARN and retain the information. There I was thinking it was just grading papers and long summer vacations, it's probably the most challenging work I've ever done.

I may have to reassess my idea of challenging work though, after i get my motorbike this weekend. yes I think it is actually going to happen. i have no idea what i am thinking or why I think it is acceptable for me to drive around on a motorbike when I don't know how to and in a city I still don't know.

On a side note, my Tet (Vietnamese Christmas/New Years) plans are semi official. I get 10 days off of school and instead of going to Cambodia like i originally planned, i am going to Laos! Should be just as fun and I am very excited!

It's late here (10:40) so I will leave with the following PERSONAL shout outs
Sean and Harry: thanks for reading!
Wednesday night dinner girls: I wish I could be there! Can't wait to join you at the table when I return
Garrick: thanks for saying I am funny
Keeley: I smile and think of you every time I hear "Run this Town"
Gathman: <3
and last but certainly not least: Alexander-happy half birthday. Google the song lyrics "calling you" by Blue October and think about them next time you decide to be grumpy when I wake you up :)

Everyone else: thanks for following, thanks for the emails, please keep them up, they brighten my days and I love them

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Gossip is Universal

Before I dive right in I have a few side notes about Vietnam

1. the elevator buttons here are amazing. you can unpress a floor and when you hit "close" it closes immediately

2. I am no longer surprised if i run into a monkey in the street.

3 I got my first letter today from my mother and the Hansen's. The rest of you are slacking. I want letters and care packages

4. I got wireless finally and I am in heaven. HEAVEN!

Yesterday, while sitting in the teachers lounge, it was OBVIOUS that they were all talking about me. I'm not paranoid, but when they say my name and all laugh and keep talking and laughing and refuse to make eye contact, it's pretty obvious.

I worried that they were talking about me as a teacher, that I was bad, the kids hated me, I am useless etc. of course I would care about that, because that's why I am here and being honest with myself, I have good lessons and bad lessons so it's feasible that they think I am a bad teacher.

I was determined to find out. Obsessed.

I made my move. I cornered one teacher that I am friendly with after school demanding to know what was being said. I, as many of you know, can be really annoying and persistent. She didn't want to tell me. She said it would make me sad. That just added fuel to the fire. I relentlessly harassed the poor sweet kind girl until she let it slip...they are talking about my appearance.

Do I not dress nicely enough, I wondered? If only.

More like, I am a tall, big freak, with a HUGE nose, and CAT LIKE eyes that they don't like.

I actually laughed when I heard this out of relief that it wasn't for my shoddy teaching style that I was being gossiped about, but in fact, the way I look. I find it so interesting that people are the same wherever you are in the world. They may have different cultures and lifestyles but there are fundamental elements that are constant. The need to gossip. The desire for love. Insecurities. These will be a part of anyone's life regardless of who they are and where they are from. Human nature is fascinating.

back to me being ugly. GREAT. I thought I had gotten past this hurdle in middle school. No one likes to be called ugly, I don't care what the circumstance is, it's a blow to the self esteem. But I thought about it and here is what I came up with

1. I strive to have cat eyes in the US. Everyone thinks cat eyes are exotic and sexy. So despite it being an insult, it's actually a compliment to me.

2. I am tall. I can't change that.

3. My nose IS big. It is. It also has a bump from when the football smashed in three years ago. I had already made the decision to "get that bump fixed" when i get back to the US, but in the meantime, I've accepted my beak so I guess in time maybe they will too.

4. The standards of beauty here are so different. Women pile on whitening moisturizers and cream to make them more white. White and pale equates to beauty and wealth. In America, we wear bronzers to get a perfect sunkissed look. Being heavier here isn't bad, it is also a sign of wealth and esteem.

Bottom line is, our standards of beauty are different, and that is ok. the only thing that matters is if I live up to my personal standard of beauty and I believe that I do.

PS-Thanks everyone for the emails and the notes and letting me know that you're reading and enjoying this blog. I love hearing from you all too so please keep it coming.

xoxo

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

PS-little tidbit

I had my first Vietnamese lesson yesterday. I am useless at it and find myself speaking in a French accent. Mon dieu!

Day in the Life

I don't want to over saturate your impressionable minds with my ramblings but I find myself thinking to myself "Oh! I should've blogged that!" and I wait to do it and forget what it was. Kind of like right now. I had so much to write about and now my mind is drawing a blank. I will start carrying a notebook with me

I received a very interesting note from my devastatingly handsome and perfect friend, Chris Gathman, yesterday. He's spent a great deal of time in Asia, having lived in Shanghai and reminded me to let go of my American outlook on things and really do my best to experience the culture and opportunities in front of me. So today i really tried. I went to the coffee place alone. ordered alone. paid alone. said hello to people that I saw. Went to the market and tried to buy a map. That wasn't so great, but i tried. And instead of walking straight to school, I stopped and looked around and really took in the adorable market that goes on each day, and the way people barter and do business. The way of life here is fascinating to me.

Speaking of school, it's great. Today a teacher told me what a great job I was doing and how well I was able to handle the loudest class. She said I was very "suitable" for teaching which was music to my ears. It turns out that I'm kind of a tough cookie in the classroom. I've shed my need to make everyone like me and instead replaced it with "you listen to me, I am boss" and am surprised yet ecstatic to find that the students actually do. I no longer feel like a sham. I am slowly starting to build confidence in what I am doing.

It helps that the children are adorable. Truly sweet, excited and so eager to learn. Each day that i walk into the classroom, I am struck by how seriously they take learning a foreign language and feel sad for the United States that there is basically no emphasis on foreign language. I'm not saying the US should take up teaching Vietnamese in school, but foreign languages should be taken more seriously. The ability to be able to communicate in a tongue other than your own is essential to life. For people to be arrogant to assume that English is enough is tragic. We are so far behind and will find that, over time, we will be based over for those who are multilingual and we will be on the bottom on the totem pole. I truly believe that to succeed in life you need as many talents and assets as possible and you should never assume that what you've done is enough. there is always more.

I digress. The point is: these students speak great English. At the age of seven years old I can have a basic conversation with them, The nine year olds blow me away with what they can say. And when I think back to my PITIFUL French and Spanish classes in my extremely expensive "best in the area" private school I can't help but laugh at the low standards.

Anyway i don't think this post had ANYTHING to do with anything I wanted to actually write about.

False Advertising

The nights that I order Asian food in the USA, I know two things: 1. I need to wear my fat jeans tomorrow and 2. I'm probably not going to be able to move after consuming this greasy deliciousness.

Asian food in Asia is as different as....well, I can't even give a fair comparison (it's 7:45 am here so cut me a break) The point is, the food that I consume here is galaxies away from the junk they serve us in the US, and right now I am trying to figure out why.

WHY do the places in the US make Asian food something that is greasy, unhealthy, and that makes you gain 5 pounds from one night? The food I eat here is fresh, doesn't taste greasy, doesn't have all of these additives. It's simply prepared and delicious. It's honestly some of the best food I've ever eaten in my life. Every day when the cook arrives to my flat, my mouth begins watering and after she has created a delectable treat worthy of any of the 5 stars restaurants in NYC, I dig in an appreciate every bite. Frankly, I don't think I will be able to eat Asian food in the US again. (sorry Alex)

I have to go to class now. I just wanted to share my thoughts on this because I thinks its TERRIBLE that the Asian food we get served in the US differs so greatly from the Asian food we get here.

On a side note, I bought a bar of chocolate here. Maybe it was just the wrong brand, I don't know, I will have to give others a try...but it couldn't come close to my high standards of chocolate.

Anyone who wants to send me: chocolate, a sweatshirt, a printer, or a portable clothes dryer shoot me a note and I'll send you my address.

xo

Monday, January 25, 2010

Big Brother Star in a Cast of One

I have received several (hundred) requests to blog more. It seems you all can't get enough of me. Looks like nothings changed since I left the US :)

I would love to blog every moment of my life here but i simply haven't the time. Not to mention internet blockers restrict me from accessing my blog half the time.

My blog today is one that I have refrained from posting but am now finding myself at a boiling point. The program I am in here leaves much to be desired. It's not what i expected and certainly not what it advertised and realistically it's tough to see working out. But I'm always up for a challenge.

I think the thing that really drives me to the point of insanity (or to be fair, is pushing me over the edge....we all know I was driven to and have been living on the point of insanity for many happy years now)is the 24/7 surveillance.

The program team WORKS FROM MY LIVING room. Someone is always here. Asking questions. watching me. I was even told by a security guard that he "loves watching me type." Lost in translation? Maybe. Creepy? Oh definitely.

I don't like being under the microscope at all times. It makes me uncomfortable. For those of you who know me (or read my post about Alice time) should know that smothering me is a rare but effective way of torture and that I am going NUTS. There is only so much I can stand and I am trying really hard to not blow up in frustration.

Your home is supposed to be your sanctuary, not a place where you walk on eggshells and wonder if the conversations being had in front of you are about you. (They probably are)

My parents gave me a pretty good deal of freedom growing up. I didn't have a curfew in high school, I was allowed to go outside and play, shut my door, talk on the phone, keep a diary without having them snoop. They kept tabs on me of course, and knew where I was...but I never felt controlled. I didn't need to be, I was a good child, never got into trouble. My parents had a strong respect for limits and privacy so i can safely say I have never experienced anything like this in my life.

Is it too much to say that I want to wake up and have my breakfast in peace? or come home to a quiet house and unwind without having to make banal conversation while contemplating how to I go in my room and shut the door without looking like a total bitch? I am 25 years old, here on my own free will and I don't think I should have to be in a position where I need to explain myself, my whereabouts and every single detail to a keeper.

I came here to do a job. Which I do. I go to work, I come home, I respect the ridiculous rules and all I want in return is a little bit of space. To not have someone here 24/7.

In the meantime, if you all miss me, stay tuned to what I consider to be the Big Brother of Hanoi. I am the only cast member. That is until I get new roommates.

xoxo AC

Sunday, January 24, 2010

When It Rains it Pours

And I am not refering to the weather. More like my social life

After engaging in a weekend of solitude I was getting a bit restless and lonely. So when my phone beeped this morning at 8am I wasn't as mad as I should've been for being woken up at that ridiculous hour. Those of you who have ever experienced the wrath of waking me up before I'm ready know it isn't pretty and rarely attempt to do it again.

But luckily for Chip, I had gone to bed early, with no alcohol in my system so I didn't hate him too much for daring to ask me if I wanted to grab coffee and hang. I took my time and when it got to be 930ish I realized that my keys were MIA and I was locked in my flat. Annoyed and cursing the nature of it being a fire hazard I was convinced I would be physically trapped into solitude for another day but after about an hour I found them.

I spent a leisurely afternoon with Chip looking for backpacks, sharing a few glasses of beer and having a very very yummy lunch as we walked further and further away from the city and into "real Vietnam"

At 4pm I was whisked away by my awesome and gorgeous Vietnamese friend Natali into the city for an evening of fun with her friends. I had chocolate ice cream and dominated in basketball (my height was KIND OF an unfair advantage but these are details I would prefer not to admit)

These people are so amazing, so much fun, and are so considerate. They refused to let me take the bus home and insisted on driving me instead. I was actually proud that I could direct us there. But they are so kind, accommodating and warm and I feel lucky to call them friends. I hope I will be able to treat someone else who comes to NYC with the same kind of kindness that I have been shown here.

However I couldn't help but wish that I could've spread out my social life this weekend over more than one day. I find that even in NYC this happens. I have nothing to do for days and then all of a sudden I am invited to four different things. Oh well, when it rains it pours and who doesn't love a little but of precipitation?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Kindle and I are getting pretty serious

Those of you who know me well are well aware of "Alice-time." This is a time where, I do not want you to speak to me, look at me, or give me any kind of attention.

During Alice time, I probably have my nose in a book, or am surfing the internet, or wandering around alone outside....regardless of what I do, it's my time and I don't want you to be a part of it. How to identify Alice time is VERY easy. If my headphones are on and I am staring at my computer or sitting in my room. That's a pretty good indicator. If I am reading something, well, that's the biggest indicator of all. If disturbed during "AT" I am quite snappy and short. I take "AT" very seriously.

So one would think, oh Vietnam will be perfect for her, because she will have as much "AT" as she wants. This is true, I spent the better part of 24 hours reading my kindle (thanks Alex!) but I was quite depressed about it. The beauty of "AT" is that it is a choice, a decision I make to be alone with my thoughts. Here, it's not by choice. Here, it's because I don't know anyone else and my flat is empty (dear new roommates: please come soon and be cool! from, Alice)

So I am quite lonely sometimes. And that makes me sad. I am perfectly capable of existing on my own for a bit. I think it's important for one to be alone with themselves. I hate to be a burden and annoy people with a constant need for attention. Which is why I haven't reached out to Chip (my one friend who lives in my district of Hanoi) this weekend. The other people I am friends with here live in central Hanoi, and I am still a bit murky as to how to get around and getting back from a night out is quite a problem. So I've just stayed in. I can't make other people responsible for my happiness and entertainment. I mean I explored today for a few hours the neighborhoods around me. Central Hanoi will be another day.

I am convinced that if I lived in central Hanoi my life would be different, busy, no time to be lonely. I like cities and thrive when in them. I like being surrounded by the hustle and bustle. the sense of strength and independence living in a city provides you with. If I lived in Hanoi I would have learned it already. I would walk around for hours and explore. I would be fine. But I don't. So I am going to have to either learn Hanoi (I can start by buying a map which will do no good because I am useless at reading maps but I may as well try) or sit at home. I go for the former.

I will keep you all posted.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Something Else I Learned

In Vietnam, you are considered one years old on the day that you are born. So, according to Vietnamese customs, on my next birthday I will be turning 27. not 26. shoot.

More Than Just an Adventure


It is rainy season in Hanoi and wow, does it RAIN. I thought being from Florida that I knew what rain was. I didn't. This rain is a constant heavy rain lasting for days on end. My hair looks terrible and my clothes won't dry :)

When I decided to move to southeast Asia, my main intention was to do something different, to travel, and to have fun. In other words, completely selfish intentions.

I had no idea what this experience was going to teach me about myself. I mean, I expected that I would learn to be more independent and more worldly but I have already gotten so much more out of it, and it's only been a week.

The foreigners that you meet here, that are living here, are so different than anyone you have ever met. These are people who have a much bigger and open view of the world and approach to life. Their world is not defined by their high powered job and what the latest greatest party is. They want to talk to you, to know YOU, to travel, to learn, and to cherish each day.

Friendships are formed quickly over here. I find myself being more honest and open about myself to people I have known for under a week than I probably have been to some of my closest friends. I find myself really thinking about the kind of person I am and what I can do to better myself. I find myself wanting to be the best person I can be. To improve.

I think living in NYC, I got a bit sidetracked about the value of life and what we can make of it. I think i got so caught up in what can i do to make me happy that I fell a little bit short in being a good person.

I realize that there are a lot of things about myself that I want to improve. And that instead of thinking about myself and what I want, I should start thinking about how my behavior and actions affect others in my life.

I know this post is a bit rambling and it is actually very difficult for me to articulate what it is I am trying to say, and the profound effect the way of life here has made me examine myself, but what I can clearly state is that when I return from here I will be a better, kinder, and more considerate person than I was when I left.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Settling in but never Settled

Yesterday I had a great day. I taught two lessons (terribly) and then headed into central Hanoi for some aimless wandering and lazy drinking with friends. The sun was shining and it was wonderful. Until I got home at 10PM and had to start throwing together lesson plans for my 8 lessons today. However I digress.

While I made the move to Hanoi "to teach" I did it more so for selfish reasons. To explore the world, live in a different culture and soak up everything life has to offer. So while this blog is supposed to be about my life, and an update of it...I think I can leave it at....I'm settling in, I have 25 lessons a weeks and no idea how to teach, I am pretty sure the teachers think I am a sham and they are RIGHT, I want to make more friends, but I truly do like the ones I already have.

Instead this blog is going to be about things I have observed in this great city:

1. People in Vietnam do not have beverages during meals. Unless it's wine. I have never been a part of a culture where it is not essential to serve water and some other kind of drink with the meal but not in Vietnam. In fact when I try and say, "Oh I am thirsty" the reply is "There is soup." Soup to me is not water. And in many ways I am trying to conform to non Western life as possible, I don't think I can give up my habit of a tall glass of water with my meals.

2. Manners. Chivalry is still very much alive and kicking in Vietnam. Men stand up on the bus to give me a seat. I get awkward about it but they insist. Men of America...I watch them as they see a pregnant woman or the elderly stumble onto public trasnsport and avert their eyes so they can pretend like they didn't notice so they don't have to give up their coveted seat. Listen, I am all for equality, and I readily and often give up my seat for those in need. The point is, most American men do not. And it is disgraceful. Give up your seats! Open the door! Let women out of the elevator first! These are all basic rules by which to live.

3. Rice wine+green tea='s amazing.

4. When someone offers to take a picture of you here, they expect money.

I have decided that I really want a motorbike to get around but I think this would be very dangerous for me. Because a)I still have little to no concept of how to get around here (it's only been a week!) and b)the driving is insane...INSANE here and I would either: hurt someone else, seriously injure myself, or spend the whole time screaming as I drive. Maybe even all three.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Kicking the Habit


There are two types of people: the ones who when everyone stops and stares at them...smile, toss their hair and think "just another day in the life of being beautiful" and those who wonder if anything is on their face.

While I have had a few experiences with the former...92% of the time I fall into the latter.

That is until I moved to Asia. If you are a girl who is 5'10 with bright blue eyes and living in Asia...people will stare. A lot. Unabashedly. And you just have to smile.

As I said before, the superficial side of me loved the attention. Who doesn't like to be called beautiful on every street corner? Or have people think it is really great and fun to know you? It can take years to reach status like that in NYC...so I am lapping it all up until the day comes where I move back to the city where everyone is tall, skinny, beautiful and well connected. Where blue eyes are a normal occurrence.

Whatever comes of this experience, I hope that I will walk away with more self confidence that I did when I arrived. That I will kick my habit of low self esteem. So that when I do return to the city that never sleeps (I miss you, NYC!) that I can be the girl who, if I see someone staring at me, smile and toss my hair.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Adjusting but Not Well Adjusted

So yesterday was a good day and I am FINALLY going to have a blog post that doesn't make me sound like a snivelling whining little brat. Amazing, right? I'd like to start off by saying that the problem was never with Hanoi, or Vietnam....but with the program I am with. I LOVE Hanoi, and I love this country. The people are wonderful, warm and welcoming and I think everyone should visit here.

But yesterday during the day I spent the day in the city, and had a great time. I bargained in the market, bought some great pearls and silk scarves, ate delicious food and took fun pictures. Also, I think it helps that everywhere I go people stop and tell me how beautiful I am. I am THAT superficial to allow this to make me happy to stay here. ;)

I also met some cool people who I went out with last night and had a GREAT time. So things are settling. There will be good days and bad days but the most important thing is ATTITUDE. And I can make mine better. I need to grow up (gasp!), stop feeling sorry for myself and make my own fate and destiny.

In the meantime, i appreciate all of your emails and supportive texts. My US phone is now broken so I won't be getting them anymore. But you can always email and skype or twitter or facebook me. I am SO accessible!

I'd like to give a special shout out to Alex, my father, and Alison...all of whom have been incredibly loving and supportive as I bawled my eyes out to them over video skype. SUPER ATTRACTIVE.

And another shout out to Alex, because in general he is perfect and I adore him and miss him like crazy.

Friday, January 15, 2010

My First Vietnamese Post

Sleeping late in Hanoi is not a successful endeavor. I arrived here last night around 7PM delirious from the combination of sleepaids that didn't work and being up for nearly 30 hours. I got to my apartment and hated it. Don't get me wrong, the apartment itself if pretty nice. But I was told I'd be staying in the program's dorm and I am not. They also asked ot take my passport to show the police and stuff which I outright refused. I am not letting my passprt out of my possession.

I am in a strange area 10 kilometers outside if Hanoi and quite frankly have never felt more isolated in my life.

I wanted my blogs posts to be rosy and shiny and showing everyone how great and amazing this is. But right now it's not. Right now I am still in a state of shock and wondering if I can really do this.I am slightly disgusted with myself for my lack of resolve, I thought I was stronger than this...I mean, I made the decision to move here. And I am not a quitter or a failure. The idea of turning around and heading back to the USA (which is tempting...especially when I picture a certain adorable red headed freckled angel)...makes me recoil. I have to stay. If nothing else than to prove it to myself and to prove it to all of the people who dismissed this as one of my whims.

So I have a big day today: buying bedding (because there is none) buying food (same) buying a dresser (same) buying a sim card, and going to the US Embassy.

I am going to try and learn my way around this suburb. I am going to try and get a bike but also pin my address on to me in the event I get lost.

I am going to try and learn to live without showering in hot water. But most of all, I am going to try and get grip and snap out of my pathetic whining and crying and look this adventure right in the horns and charge right back.

(Hopefully my later posts will be more uplifting)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

heaving for hanoi

leaving for hanoi! very nervous. very tired. love to you all

Layover in Hong Kong

I remember when I got my first job, I was so excited because it was new and something I always dreamed about. After about four months, reality kicked in, and I soon realized that this big girl job of mine was actually something that I would have to continue doing. I had never thought about it in those terms. To me, having a job always represented freedom and fun not stress, misery and being trapped. The novelty had worn off and I was devising plans to strike it rich and not have to work again.

When I made my grand plans to go to Vietnam I was so excited to talk about it, think about it and romanticize it. Now I am starting to think that maybe Vietnam is what the new job was. Now that I am actually going there I am having second thoughts. I am wondering if it looked good from far away but now it’s here I don’t want it anymore.

I think the fundamental problem is that I am really scared. And I hate to admit it, but I am.

The truth is I don't know how long I can do this for. Part of me (a huge part of me) wants to turn around right now and go back.

Mid Air

So I had been hoping to be able to get a blog post in before I left, however I was pressed for time (shocker) and quite frankly not at the best blogging state anyway. The days leading up to my departure, doubt started creeping in. I kept asking myself, “what am I doing?” I kept trying to come up with ways that would prevent me from leaving and staying in the comfort of the city I love with the people I love. I know this is stupid.

I guess I never really realize quite how hard it is to leave someone behind that you are in love with and to know that it is by choice. I never really understood the magnitude of my decision until about Monday, and once that happened I was one crying fit after another.

Alex, to his credit, never wavered, though I knew he was on the brink of breaking down. He knew that if he showed any sadness or tears on his end that I would completely break. So he stayed supportive and loving and only lost composure once.

To be fair, this was when I was at the airport and I was a hysterical mess. The people around me were openly staring. I was sobbing, unabashedly in his arms and it didn’t stop there. I am crying now, for goodness sakes, on the plane.

I’ve had a lot of time to think of the plane, and I will share those thoughts later. But first let me tell you about my airport experience.

First, they informed me that despite confirming having an aisle to Hong Kong, I actually have a middle. Uh. I’m 5’10. That doesn’t work. Luckily, I was able to pay $100 for an exit row (still middle) but let me tell you I have like 4 feet of space in front of me and it is worth every penny.

Secondly was my crying fit. People in line actually comforted me. And I made it worse by declaring, “I hate hysterical people. I always make fun of them, but now I am one.” I must’ve looked hideous. Despite what Alex says, I am not na├»ve enough to think I am beautiful when I am sobbing (but thanks sweetheart!)

Third, I am through security and go to take my laptop out to get some last minute stuff done (procrastinator central) I realized that I left my computer power cord in Alex’s apt. I call him hysterical demanding that he fed ex it to me. He says of course. But then I spy a computer store in the terminal and by and by, found a cord. $80. But, it’s more than a necessity.

So that’s all set. I am happy as I board the plane. I take a sleep aide and semi fall asleep but there are nineteen babies on the plane and four of them are surrounding me, so I didn’t have much luck with that. So I got some TEFL course work done, watched a cheesy movie, read my cards from my girls and from Alex (thanks guys-I cried) and then watched the video that Alex put together as a way of saying goodbye that featured a lot of my friends. Which by the way, is an amazingly thoughtful gift that I love. So thank you. And I wonder if one day it won’t make me cry.

The one other downside to my flight is just now, I realized that all of the teaching materials that I bought on Amazon never arrived. So that’s annoying because I was kind of counting on them…workbooks, game and teaching ideas etc.

Anyway this post is much longer than they usually will be. I am well on my way….2hrs and 45 minutes to Hong Kong. Where I hope I have internet access and can find a way to reach my parents even though it’ll be like 3am there.

Signing off for now. xo

Monday, January 11, 2010

NYC Goodbye Party




Last night was my NYC going away party. It was, as I expected, a whirlwind of friends and a great time. Once again, I was struck by how incredibly lucky I am to be surrounded by such dynamic, exciting, and loyal people. While I will be terribly disappointed to leave them behind, I very much look forward to returning to them. (In the interim, I expect long emails detailing their antics...seriously guys, a life without all of your stories would be quite dull indeed)

The hardest goodbye though, will be the one I say to Alex. I'll try and avoid the over emotional gooey babble but I have to say that leaving him behind will be incredibly difficult. In fact, just thinking about it makes me tear up. (Though I cry at the drop of a hat with anything to do with romance) I think the hardest thing for me will be adjusting to not having an unconditional love and support system right there with me. Someone who can laugh at me when i am being ridiculous or hold me when the going gets rough. Sure, there's always skype, I know that, but after over three and a half years of having him right by my side, I am worried about having a bit of a breakdown when I realize that I have to survive without him directly by my side. Ok, so that's my gooey blurb about Alex, the man I think is the most incredible man to walk the planet (besides you, daddy/other men in my family)

Leaving him will be tough. Leaving my friends will be sad. Leaving my family will be hard. I guess this just reinforces how lucky I truly am. Because if they weren't so amazing, I wouldn't care about leaving them.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Saying Goodbye (Round 1)


After 2 flight changes, and $130 in luggage fees, I finally left Palm Beach County headed back to NYC.

There is something strange about saying goodbye, you do it, and you're sad of course, because you know it means not seeing someone, but you don't actually FEEL the sadness until much afterward. When i was saying bye yo my parents today, for example, I gave them a bug hug and knew it would be a while until I saw them next, but I wasn't sad. not yet anyway. Because we say goodbye so many times it almost desensitizes us.

I'd like to consider myself a pretty independent person, I like to feel like I am string and making it on my own. But if ever i have a serious problem or crisis or need to really talk to someone, I pick up the phone and call home. So I am almost positive that a little bit into my Vietnam adventure, i will miss my parents, and cry, and chastise myself for not spending more time with them while I was in Florida, for snapping at them for something silly. I will be angry at my lonely self for wasting time.

I guess I have to face that fact that no matter what, I will always be their little girl, and I actually like it. The more I think about it, the more I am realizing that this trip will not only open my eyes culturally, but it will also make me grow up in a way and learn to entirely fend for myself.

Am I ready for that?


picture: back shot of my parents walking, 2006