Growth

In the past two months, I have completed my TEFL certification, signed a lease on a house with three kick-butt roommates, and have been working a full-time job teaching English at a Kindergarten. Things have settled down over the past few weeks and I am finally feeling adjusted to life in Vietnam. Living here has been amazing, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. I was sick for two weeks from the pollution, caught a stomach bug, got a nasty Saigon kiss (burn from a motorbike’s exhaust pipe), and have had a few phone problems. If I hadn’t developed a love and gratitude for this country, I probably would have packed up and flown home by now. When a motorbike driver turns my 8-minute drive home from work into 25 because he doesn’t want to look at his GPS or listen to my directions, I get frustrated. I’m not going to sit here and say that I’m smiling, saying ‘this is great’ every time something negative comes my way. But at the end of the day, this country is worth all of the downs because it has so many more ups.

I have been doing what I came here to do: have new experiences and grow as a person. I am constantly being pushed outside of my comfort zone, meeting people from all over the world, and learning a new culture and language. Not every day is a huge adventure. Some days my biggest adventure is going to work or taking my laundry to get cleaned – but every day does provide me with learning experiences. You become quick to realize the people who genuinely want to get to know you versus those who just want to use you (especially being a westerner). Although there are some that fall into the latter, there are far more in the prior. The people I have met here, locals specifically, are the most kind, gentle, helpful, and playful people I have ever met. I will continue to stand by that. I have been apologized to countless times because of their English being ‘not good’ (which most of the time, isn’t true) … I’m sorry, what? I am living in their country, they are speaking my language because I cannot speak theirs, and they are apologizing to me?! There is always someone who will stop to tell me directions, help me move tables when it starts pouring down rain, or just wants to have a conversation to get to know me and/or improve their English. Back home I would just do the same things day-in-and-out, but here I am forced to try new things and meet new people. I have learned a lot about who I am, grown mentally, and developed a newfound confidence in myself.

Teaching has also been a huge factor in this. I can’t say I was thrilled when I learned I would be teaching three-year-olds, but now I wouldn’t change it for a thing. I have grown in my communication skills, creativity, and patience. I have also learned to always celebrate the little things. I get SO excited when my kids even say ‘please’ or ‘sorry.’ I’m grateful for this because I realize we would miss so many of the small, but beautiful things in life if we solely focused on the ‘big’ achievements.

Life isn’t meant to be predictable, it’s meant to be exciting, adventuresome, and full of growth. Before I moved to Vietnam, I was working 9 to 13-hours a day, 6 days a week (sometimes more). I would come home, eat dinner, then go to bed – occasionally meeting up with friends to maintain some form of social life. There wasn’t any excitement and I sure wasn’t growing, but I thought that’s how life was supposed to look. Society says that we have to go to university, get married, have kids, and work towards retirement – then you can travel and do all of the things you wanted to do at the age of 65 (or older). We are supposed to climb the ladder at our jobs and make a ton of money – that’s what ‘success’ is. But are the people who have more money than they know what to do with, truly happy? Maybe, but I think life is more than just material things and satisfying ridiculous societal standards for my life. It’s my life. There were many people who told me not to come to Vietnam or that I needed to start ‘settling down’ (honestly laughing at the phrase ‘settling down’. What does that even mean anyway?). I could have let those things stop me, and they almost did. I’m dang glad they didn’t. Moving here was the best decision I have ever made and I couldn’t imagine my life any different. I’m not saying everyone should quit their jobs and move to Vietnam, I’m just saying please don’t let society or other people tell you how you should live your life. Do you. Get to know people who are different from you, continuously push yourself out of your comfort zone, and just grow, man.

Okay, my update-turned-rant is now over.

Until next time,

Hales