Goodbye for now, Vietnam

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. There have been happy tears, sad tears, excited tears, stressed tears, and frustrated tears. Pretty much all of the tears. I arrived back to the United States at the end of February to surprise my niece for her birthday. I had 10 days planned on American soil before I was supposed to head back to Vietnam and continue on with my life as an English teacher. I planned to live, work, and travel until November. While I was in the US, I gained the clarity I was seeking… and then lost more than I could have anticipated.

Right before I was supposed to return to Vietnam, literally less than 48 hours before, Hanoi had its first outbreak of COVID-19 which quickly multiplied. The threat of quarantine became significantly…greater. I watched from afar as things seemingly crumbled into chaos. I saw more people in Hanoi having moving sales and selling their stuff on online platforms every day. The risk of traveling back to Vietnam seemed more intimidating. If one person on my flight had a fever, we’d all be quarantined for 14 days. Schools were still closed. While I still had a job in Hanoi, my job security in terms of hours and pay seemed questionable. I might have been lucky to be making my rent in coming months.

I had decisions to make. I could go back and risk being quarantined while assumedly scraping by for a while. I could go back, sell all of my stuff, and come right back to the States – an expensive flight and a stressful week. Or… I could just stay put at my dad’s house. Handle everything from afar, as much as I could anyway, and wait for my things to arrive in the United States in a few weeks.

As things got progressively worse all over the globe over my prime decision making days, I opted for the third option.

So I stayed.

I went from being an English teacher who rides a motorbike in Vietnam to being an unemployed free-loader who lives at home with a parent and drives a car in the blink of an eye. The tale is the same for many of my friends who have also recently relocated back to the United States, or back to their home, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is not what I was expecting to come from my 10 days back on American soil. Like many Americans, now, I am jobless while I wait for the virus to disappear.

While I wait for things to settle, there isn’t a whole lot I can really do. Life back in the States is, as expected, pretty much right where I left it. My family is still here. My old job welcomed me back, though I was only able to work one shift before it was temporarily shut down. At the moment, a lot of things are closed, leaving me with a lot of time to write, read, and think. Like many of you, I am going to be exceedingly bored over the next few weeks. However, I am really looking forward to the downtime and spending time with people I care about, new and old.

If you are curious, I do plan on getting my teaching certificate in the United States. I will teach secondary school here in the coming future – when exactly is undetermined. While it was not an easy decision to make, staying home was the best decision I could have made, and I can genuinely say that I am looking forward to continuing to see where life takes me. There is so much that I still want to do and see in this world.

But with that being said, I want to make one thing extremely clear: I am really, truly, going to miss Vietnam. There are many reasons why I moved there and chose to make there my home away from home. I deeply regret not being able to say goodbye to the locals who have been so kind to me over the last 9 months. I have built relationships with so many of them through smiles, kindness, and broken languages. I am going to miss my students who have accepted my sarcasm and lame jokes. I am going to miss the warm smiles of strangers and shots of rice wine that everyone insists on taking with me. These are the people who, and the memories that, I will remember the most.

If you’re still working right now because you don’t have the ability to not, thank you. Otherwise, wash your hands and follow whatever rules are in place for where you live.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be wandering again soon.

Until next time,

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