Autumn is here.
Another season means a change of weather, a time to revive thicker pieces of clothing, and reflect on what had gone by.
Prior to arriving in Hanoi, I had low expectations. I could possibly get the worst teaching job, teach the wildest students, and pack up after a few months. As for relationships, I was anticipating nothing.
From online to offline
Facebook became my source of social connections. I was never afraid to meet strangers at a café for the promise of having a new friend to share a meal and a walk with.
On the first few months, I felt desperation kick in.
Months later, I discovered that having people to see in my free time was necessary to feel like I belonged in this new place.
Then I met a few people I could trust. Some were from work; others were through interest groups. Most of them were teachers like me.
While we feasted on a warm bowl of noodles and drank trà đá or iced tea, we exchanged views about our jobs, relationships, and where we wanted to be next.
These connections completely changed my experience of living in Hanoi.
I smiled and laughed more. I learned about their families, co-workers, favorite countries, love lives, drinking adventures, and country traditions.
We shared our complaints openly.
By our regular interactions, I gained a more balanced understanding of what the world truly was like. Our chats taught me a greater appreciation for the human experience.
One of the best gifts of travel is the insight that despite our differences in culture, background, and upbringing, we are all the same!
Same same but different*
We all crave good food, love to laugh, seek validation that we are enough. We long to be loved and have love to share.
We constantly strive for happiness, connection, and to an extent, a level of success and influence.
Despite our differences, we must deliberately seek common ground, listen (really listen) and make meaningful dialogue with each other.
Through our sameness, we can empathize with each other and build stronger connections.
Undoubtedly, money does not hold the key to everything. The quality of our relationships matter more than our bank account, given that our basic needs are met.
You can be without a romantic partner, but you can’t thrive without the presence of good, supportive people around.
*A phrase commonly used by the Vietnamese to describe my face. I look Vietnamese, but I'm not Vietnamese. 😀
-An excerpt from FINDING HOME ABROAD