September 3


Moving to Vietnam: A Short Story of Starting Over

By Odyssa

September 3, 2022

On June 4,  I arrived in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam. It's one of the most popular destinations in the country, second to the capital, Hanoi. 

I was lucky enough to stay in a nice area in Saigon (aka HCM), had the chance to look at the bright lights surrounding Landmark 81, the tallest tower in Vietnam. Watching the busy roads filled with motorbikes was enough to make me say 'I can't believe I'm moving to this country!"

The next day, I flew to Hanoi, the country's capital. From that day forward, my life turned from one to another. 

The steps in Nha Nam Book Cafe in Thanh Xuân, Hanoi. The first floor has the book and supplies shop, the second floor is where you can read, have coffee or tea with a nice view.

New beginnings, again.

Moving into a country that doesn't predominantly speak English was, to me, the biggest trip and risk I have taken. Vietnam was - and somehow, still is - an unexplored territory for me. 

My daily routine changed. The people I lived with were no longer my parents but - at that time - strangers. I no longer held Philippine pesos in my hands. Our dogs weren't around anymore. I had no car, no bank account, no friends and family. I had to learn my way through unfamiliar streets, offices, restaurants (how to order food?!), and riding a motorbike the right way....

All sorts of emotions came but the most powerful was the feeling of being lost and not knowing what to do next. 

I had a few clothes and pairs of shoes in my luggage. I had three printed books, my Kindle, laptop, some medicines from the Philippines, and documents. I had a few possessions with me, then there was my self. 

What beginnings bring

Sometimes, starting over brings isolation, that disconnection from everything familiar to you - all that you have ever known. 

Sometimes, it brings enthusiasm. After all, adventure lies ahead literally everywhere. It's in the food, the roads, the people, culture....everywhere, everything is new!

It brings freedom, independence, and learning.

One of my students drew me wearing my usual teaching outfit. She's one of the sweetest, funniest in class.  

This poem about love perfectly describes the feeling of meeting someone new (a new love, opportunity, or life) and letting that take over your old life: 

On the first page
That is the chapter when
I first met you
Appear the words...
Here begins a new life. 
La Vita Nuova by Dante Alighieri

Every end leads to a new start, and every start - no matter how trivial or significant it is - leads to an end.

Wherever you are in life, whether you are starting, in the process, or just reached the end of a season, remember that nothing is ever permanent and things are constantly changing. Such is the cycle of life.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end. – Seneca

Here's more if you feel like taking in some love poetry this Saturday. 

This is a blog post I wrote just before coming here! It's a post about being in transit.

If you are in the Philippines, you can order a copy of my book from Shopee


About the author

Odyssa is a writer from the Philippines. She is the author of Like A New Sun Rising: A Collection of Poems on Love. When not working or writing at home, she's out walking their dogs. She enjoys traveling, practices yoga, gets lost in books and Korean drama. To her, making time for a daily practice or ritual is the best gift to one's self.

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