My teaching contract in Vietnam officially finished two weeks ago and I’m back in America. It’s time for me to move on. But there are so many things about Vietnam and Hanoi I don’t want to leave. Here are the things that I will miss the most about Hanoi.
- The “Fixing” Culture
In Indiana if you’re sandals break, you pitch them. If you’re dress rips, it goes in the trash. In Vietnam you head to a tailor or a cobbler and for a few thousand đồng your favorite clothes will be as good as new. I’m going to bring this mentality back to the U.S. with me, but with the lack of tailors, cobblers, and repairmen, I don’t know how long I’ll be able to maintain this idea of fixing instead of pitching.
I love chè. I think I’ll be able to make a lot of Vietnamese foods when I get back to the states, and most of the delicious noms can be found at Vietnamese restaurants at home, but I have no idea where I’m going to get chè. I’ll try gummy worms in yogurt with ice, but somehow I don’t think it’ll be the same.
- Vietnamese coffee
Thick, sweet, and black as tar, Vietnamese coffee gives a kick like no other coffee I’ve tried before. Heading back to Folgers and Starbucks is going to be a huge come-down.
- The fashion
I have a love-hate relationship with Vietnamese fashion. Sometimes I hate how reserved the fashion here is: the muted colors, the modest designs, the sameness of it all, but I’m going to miss it too. Vietnamese women are classy. No one can deny it and I’m going to miss the slim-fitting but straight-lined dresses, high-collared tops, tight black business skirts, and of course the ao dais.
- My friends
I don’t want to get too mushy here, so I’ll let an emoticon and these sad statues illustrate how I feel about this. 😥 Wahhh!
I hated my motorbike when I first moved here. Even getting on the bike seemed like an impossibly deadly task, let alone driving it in the lawless streets, but against all my efforts, the beast has grown on me. I’ll miss the heat on my back as I speed through the streets, foot always prepared to touch the brakes, moving like a little fish in a giant, beeping ocean. :p
- Fresh food
At home everything is frozen, microwaved, preserved, and imported. I hate to knock my hometown cooking, but it’s hard to get “real” food in small town Indiana unless you drive to the next town over and only shop at the Wednesday farmer’s market. I don’t know how I’m going to go back to frozen pizzas after eating just-killed-this-morning meat and ripe-off-the-vine fruit all year. If only I could take just one little Vietnamese market home with me. …maybe I’ll have to make friends with a farmer.
- The price tags
Vietnam is cheap, especially the food, and I know I’m going to go through Western-prices sticker shock when I move back home.
- My apartment
My apartment in Vietnam is cozy with big comfy sofas, hard wood floors, and nice windows. At $480 a month it can’t be beat and I’m going to miss my sweet little home with my familiar neighbors on my lively, happening street.
- My kids
I won’t miss all of them (sorry, Tuan Minh), but I’ll miss a lot of them. My last teaching day in Hanoi ended with one of my favorite classes, and I was sniffling trying not to get teary-eyed as I said good-bye to the pre-teens whose faces lit up when they saw me in the hallway and who waited after class to tell me about what was going on in their lives. A lot of my kids were eager, funny, awesome students and I’ll be sad to say goodbye.
Sometimes moving sucks, but it’s fun too. I’m going to miss a lot about Vietnam, and it’ll always have a special place in my life, but I’m excited for the next chapter too. I’ll see you again Hanoi; I’m sure of it.