What if I Never Left?

Sometimes I think about the life I would be living if I had stayed home in the United States. If I never came to Vietnam to start my career.

It’s difficult to not compare the two, especially seeing that teaching is my career. It isn’t just an odd job for quick cash like many people who come to Vietnam to teach. Things are just so vastly different in the United States when it comes to teaching. Teachers are underpaid, overworked, and underappreciated in the United States. The job availability is there because no one wants to be a teacher. It just isn’t “worth” it for most people, and I understand that. But it has always been what I have planned to do. In Vietnam, there are a lot of opportunities to teach. Most of them are here for just a quick dollar or two. The job availability is there, and those jobs are being filled. It’s more simple here in Vietnam; you work less and are paid nearly the same per hour as you would be paid in the States. Depending. 

I find myself comparing my life here in Hanoi a lot to the life I would be living. It’s an easy thing to do, and it’s an interesting way to pass the time.

In the United States, I would have a stable job. I would probably work from 8-4 with tons of take-home work. I would drive a car, live somewhere that’s probably too expensive for what I’m actually getting, and be ‘settled’ but overly stressed. 

In Vietnam, I have a generally stable job. I work a few hours a day, 5-6 days a week, with moderate take-home work. Technically, there isn’t really much take-home work, but I’m an anxious over-planner. It is what it is. I drive a motorbike, and I live in a beautiful apartment all on my own, right on the water. I am settled, and I am generally not too stressed.

People always ask me when I plan to go ‘home.’ Will it be for good? Just for a visit? How long will you stay? Where will you move? What will you do? 

I keep referring to ‘home’ as if it’s somewhere far away, but what I am beginning to realize is that I already am home. I have undoubtedly made a home for myself here. I have my routines. I have a friend or two (which isn’t much more than what I had in the States). I have a coffee maker. I have a bed, I pay bills, and I have responsibilities. My home and my life are here.

To answer any and all of those questions above: I don’t know. I don’t know when I’m going back. I don’t know how long it will be for. I don’t know where I will go. I will teach, but that is the only thing I know. 

This is my life now. I’m done thinking about what everyone else is doing back in the United States. I’m not forgetting about anyone; of course, I still miss my friends and family. I’m just moving on from that part of my life. I can’t actively be *here* if my mind is elsewhere. 


That’s all for now. Hope you enjoyed this little ramble.

Until next time,

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  • Cindy Turner

    Re-reading your intro: “When I stopped dreaming and started planning” . That’s been whispering around my … mind and heart … since reading it the 1st time. Vietnam vicariously is really good. Your way of writing is pleasant. More like porch-sitting words with verbal film to go alongside. “What the hell am I doing”. makes me laugh. To comment then; I’m bumping through planning and doing. So, thanks for that! Hopefully you will keep writing of your actual doing – and cherishing all of it.

  • Donna Orsino

    Emily I am so astonished at your outlook on life, here, and in Vietnam. Not sure if you know who I am, but I grew up with your Dad, and your aunt Marianne. In fact she was a bridesmaid at my wedding, and your Grandma Connie, was my Godmother. Connie, and my Mom, Edy were friends since
    childhood almost so it seems that the two families were always a and now that the elders are gone, it just seems that everything is unfolding into the lives of our children and grandchildren.. You are a gem and I wish I could have met you. I live in Florida, but further south then your Dad…

    I’m going to continue following your journey, it is so inspiring!!

    Donna Russo – Orsino

    • emilyrose

      Thank you so much for reaching out, Donna. I really appreciate your kind words. I was living in Florida for about four and a half years before moving away to travel. Perhaps when I come back to visit we will run into each other!

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