Today was my first full day, and it was lovely. I slept well from about 3:30 am to almost 10 am local time. We are 11 hours ahead of EST. Sleeping until 10 did mean that I missed an optional breakfast meet and greet, but I am thankful that I slept as long as I did. Last night when we arrived at the hotel, Molly (the MS principal) had gestured vaguely toward an area called Crescent where she said you could drink coffee and look at a pond. This sounded a bit like my idea of heaven so I looked a map to locate this magical land of Crescent. No, seriously, I looked a map. I hope Kate, Bess, and Rachel believe me, but I posted a picture as proof. Then, I took off in the direction that the map suggested, and I found myself a delicious latte and a cute pond. I discovered yesterday in Korea’s airport that lattes can transcend culture and can create happiness worldwide. My latte this morning confirmed that hypothesis.
As I walked around the adorable pond, I had some time to reflect on what a great journey this has been so far. Much to my own surprise, I didn’t struggle emotionally as much as I thought I would when leaving home. I think mostly this is because I have been filled with a sense of peace that I made a good decision. I know that I will probably be homesick and feel anxious in the coming weeks, and I accept that as part of the experience of moving abroad and leaving those I love dearly. Lots of people have told me how brave I am, but I don’t think that I am here because of courage but instead because of the conviction that I am going to love this new adventure.
After my walk, I returned to the hotel where I was meeting the group for lunch. There were about 14-16 of us at lunch. I got to reconnect with the sweet teacher from DC who met me for dinner one night back home. She is still sweet, and she has been here a month. It was nice to hear the perspective of someone who already feels settled in. I also got to meet Mark (the other new English teacher). He and his wife Gael seem dear, and I am confident that Mark will be a great collaborative partner for our 9th grade course. Following lunch, we took off on a bus tour of the city to check out the different parts of Phu My Hung district and hear from a current teacher about some of the housing options. Our tour ended at the school where we had an information session with the HR department about bank accounts, reimbursement forms, etc. We didn’t really get to tour the school, but that will come. Soon, I hope.
After our session at school, Alison and I tagged along on Ricki’s house-hunting appointment. I thought that I would be much too tired to apartment shop, so my appointment isn’t until tomorrow at 1:30, but I am so glad that I hijacked Ricki’s tour to see options of what is available. We had a great day and saw about 16? apartments in Phu My Hung. Most of them were in one complex called Sky Garden 3. I am not sure that I would want to live in Sky Garden because it doesn’t have a pool, a gym, or balconies, but we did find one apartment there that I could happily live in. We also found 2 others that Alison and Ricki would consider. However, it was our first day of looking, and I think that we are all still eager to see more. I think too that I will like meeting my own agent and being able to direct the search. I am hoping that I find a place that just lets me know that I am home. If not, I might have a hard time committing to a place.
I so enjoyed the enjoyed the house tours, and I took hundreds of photos for Ricki. I decided not to post too many so that I don’t give away any surprises before my post about my personal housing options and decisions, but I do have some news to share. None of the refrigerators that we saw today had purple flower stencils. It was a let-down for sure. Perhaps the only thing to alleviate my sadness over the fading dream of refrigerator art were the stickers in this bathroom. Hilarious. Don’t worry; none of us plan to rent this apartment.
In the middle of house-hunting, we did take a smoothie break. Durian is a really stinky fruit that apparently tastes amazing. Our housing HR guy, Mr. Huy, and Ricki’s real estate agent were the only 2 to order plain durian smoothies, but I did try durian mixed with avocado, apple, and mango. My smoothie was delicious, so I assume that I like durian, but it did make my breath nasty. Good thing Alison and Ricki were still willing to eat dinner with me.
After our housing tour was over, we opted to walk toward school to time the walk, check out the neighborhood, and find a place to eat. If you subtract the time that we spent looking at the map and finding Ricki a bathroom, I think that the Sky Garden complex is about a 15 minute walk from campus. Not bad. Also, I want you to note that we all looked at the map. I taught the girls early in the day that in order to make me laugh, they only needed to make jokes about how we ALL needed to look at the map. Luckily, they obliged and we had many good laughs.
Our walk to dinner was great because we had time to reflect on what we wanted in housing and to finally absorb that we really live in this adorable city. We haven’t actually left District 7 yet, but I love it so far. It is a beautiful and vibrant place with lots of green space, great food, and friendly people. I feel so lucky to have this opportunity.
P.S. I should mention that Vietnam did a remarkable job with its welcoming weather. We had a whole day without rain, and it was a few degrees cooler than normal with a nice breeze. So I might partially love Vietnam because it loved me back. Here’s hoping tomorrow’s weather is almost as lovely. Especially since I might need the kindness after a pretty sleepless night. Silly time change.