Monday, January 24, 2011

Hi-Ho Hi Ho It's off to work we go

When I came to Hanoi last January, I expected to stay for five months. Five months. That's what i wanted. To take a breather from life, to evaluate what I wanted, to explore a new culture and travel. Five months in Hanoi and two more to travel.

When a good opportunity teaching presented itself I extended that five months to a year. One year was a natural progression from five months and I felt like I'd have a greater understanding and sense of belonging to the city if I stayed a year.

Here I am over a year later with no plans to leave. I confess, if i was still trudging to a classroom day in and day out that I don't know if I'd see my time here as indefinite. My transformation from school teacher back to PR came accidentally, I was looking online for a job for someone who wants to move here, and I noticed an ad for a vacancy in public relations. I figured, "why not?" and applied. I got it and once that occurred my mindset began to change a little bit more.

the decision to remain in Southeast Asia is not a difficult one in terms of adjusting to the culture or sacrifice. I feel like I have everything here that i need, and am blessed enough to have retained my former life in all of its glory as well. The factor that was making me unhappy was the career one, the fact that I didn't belong in a classroom, it didn't inspire me or make me happy. I knew I was a good teacher, and I took away incredibly valuable insights and tools from my time in front of a chalkboard, but it wasn't me. I wanted to have it all. I wanted the life I have made for myself here to fit into the aspirations I've built for myself as well.

Since I've landed the PR job, and begun heading to the office daily, I've found a significant shift in my demeanor. I am happy, composed, fulfilled. I feel successful for the first time in my life. I am inspired to do my best, to grow, to take this golden opportunity I've been presented with and turn it into something incredible. I've never been so excited about work in my life, but also scared. Scared that i'll fail, scared that i won't live up to my expectations, scared that I'm not as great as I think I am. I guess this is because when something is important to us, we're more nervous about losing it, or it being taken away. I've never really cared about a job or opportunity like this before.

I've entered the world of the unknown, because while I am working in public relations, I'm doing it in a foreign country, and I'm not even really focusing on the PR aspect of the industry but actually acquiring new business. My job is essentially to meet the movers and the shakers in this country and try and have them work with my company. how incredible is that?

Work doesn't feel like work, and it honestly feels like I am living in this dream world where everything I want comes true and at some point I have to wake up. I hope not for a while. I'd like to sleep in :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It Feels Like Home to Me

As excited as I was to go home over Christmas break, a part of me was nervous. I remembered how easy it was for me to fall back into my old life, how comfortable it was. I remember breaking down in Alex's apartment on the day of my flight back to Hanoi telling him he couldn't make me go back. And I remember, most of all, when i got back to Hanoi being completely miserable. I sent depressing mopey emails to everyone back home crying that I'd made a mistake and didn't know what I was thinking.

The Hanoi slump is common among expats. At first, I thought it was just me, so i was embarrassed and kept it to myself. however, upon further discussion, I realized that MOST people have highs and lows here. The highs are very very high and the lows are dismal. A friend told me to "give it three weeks" and then I'd feel normal again, and she was right...within three weeks I'd adjusted back to my Hanoian life and state of happiness.

I was pretty sure the same thing would happen to me this time, and although at least I could anticipate it, there's no way of avoiding it...however something strange happened. I got home and for the first time it felt like I was a visitor. I was visiting Florida, I was visiting New York, and while visiting is fabulous it's a completely different frame of mind. I no longer felt that the city I spent three and a half years in was mine, and while I enjoyed every second I had there, I just didn't feel home. perhaps it was because I was sleeping on an aerobed, or that everyone was going out of their way to see me, but I stopped mourning the life i left behind and started looking forward to the one I've built for myself in Hanoi.

I will always love New York (and everything it offers) and will probably return there. However, these days, Hanoi is home, and I couldn't be happier about that.