I’ve been in Vietnam for a little over two months now and it’s hard to believe that at any point the end of the internship felt far away. The last month has absolutely flown and to think we’re almost half way there already is crazy. My opinions on teaching are mixed. Some days I really enjoy it and some days the chaos is just a little too much. Although it’s looking more and more likely that Vietnam in general is hectic and not that our employers are messing us around.
This job in itself is an experience, never mind the moving 9,000 miles away from home bit.
The classes range from students with virtually no English to classes with no interest and to those who are beyond exceptional. Being 100% honest the job isn’t as fulfilling as you might think. Of course there are the moments where your students grasp something that they were really struggling with or astound you with their knowledge during one of the games but for the most part the job can be a little underwhelming. While I thoroughly enjoy living in Hanoi and don’t want to wish my time in Vietnam away I’m not devastated at how quickly the school days seem to be flying by.
This post seems quite negative but I think it’s important that people are realistic about what teaching English abroad is really about. At the end of the day, it’s a job to pay the bills and a means to allow you to spend a few months in an incredible country i.e. not the worst decision you could make. And there are some pretty good points too-
The people you meet: The speed at which friendships have developed in Vietnam is ridiculous. I live with 5 other girls in a beautiful traditional Vietnamese house and I adore all of them. Being surrounded by people who understand the feeling of homesickness or frustrations with school is such a massive support. It also means you have automatic travel buddies. I travelled with two of the girls to Cat Ba via Halong at the end of January and found that the mini trip brought us closer together pretty quickly.
The places you see: I live for the weekends and now even the thought of planning for after the internship doesn’t seem as daunting. I’ve taken some amazing weekend trips to Halong Bay, Cat Ba Island and Mai Chau (separate posts to follow) and just this weekend I’m going to visit Cuc Phuong National Park!
Experiencing a new culture; The excitement of learning a new language, trying new food and getting used to another culture certainly helps keep the homesickness at bay. Just this past week I’ve had two impromptu sit downs with some locals while eating lunch and learning the language through these interactions feels much more natural, as well as more useful. The food in Vietnam was pretty hit and miss at the beginning but now that I’ve discovered what I like the temptation to have a cheat ‘Western meal’ isn’t as strong. Bun cha, banh mís and com rang du’a bo are firm favourites as well as frequent trips to the local rice buffet place.
While I sound incredibly negative about the whole internship I can assure you that’s more of a personality thing than a teaching English is shit thing. I’m actually having a pretty good time out here!
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