Friday, March 8, 2013

Update: VIETNAM!

As you can probably tell from my lack of blogging, I've been quite busy these past few weeks. Since there's a lot to inform you on, I'm not going to go into too much detail about everything that's happened, but here's a little wrap up:

- Last week in Brazil was fantastic. It was hard saying goodbye to our host families, our country coordinator, and our translators (who also became our very good friends)

-Took a 13 hour plane ride to Doha, had an hour and half layover, and then continued for another 10 hours to Bangkok, and one final 2 hour flight to Ha Noi, Vietnam!


-We were introduced to our new host families!! I am staying with Yenling, a student from Brown who is actually Vietnamese. Her parents were born and raised in Vietnam, but moved to the US in the 80s and this is Yenling's first time in Vietnam! She's speaks the language quite fluently (although she says she doesn't know much.. she's able to translate almost everything for me). We're living in an apartment building with our host mom, dad, and two younger brothers, 7 and 10. Our little brothers are pretty shy but they're warming up to us now!

-Our host grandma and grandpa live a few floors above us and come down for dinner everynight! Grandma is always smiling and giggling and loves it when I say the few words of Vietnamese I know: Thank you and It's delicious!

-Grandma also calls me Helen.. not sure if she just can't pronounce my name or if she thinks that's actually my name. She's too cute to correct, so I just go along with it.

-I brought "snow-to-go" as a gift for my host family, and the little boys are in love! They have a bowl full of "snow" and they told me this is the first time they've ever played with snow. They make little snowmen and are constantly playing with. It made me happy :)

-My host family buys Danish milk, Danish applejuice, and Danish laundry detergent. Why? Because "they have good products." Awesome.

-Woah Vietnam is awesome!

-Ha Noi is another big city, and there is SOOOOO much traffic. Meaning, a few cars, a few more taxis, several bicycles, and OH-SO-MANY motor bikes. Everywhere.

-There is lots of air pollution in Ha Noi. You know those face mask things that ill people sometimes wear? Yeah, just about everyone here owns at least one of those. It's a new fashion actually, and they sell them all over the place with cute patterns and different sizes to fit everyone's personal needs! They have carbon filters in them so they actually help too!

-Crossing the street is a very dangerous task because no one will stop for you. They will, however, swerve around you as you make your way slowly across the deadly road.

-Stop lights and lines on the street really don't mean anything. Why not go on when the light is red? Why not drive against the traffic? It's casual.

-Cars park on the sidewalk.

-I get lots of stares and points when walking down the street or riding on the bus. It's probably just my stunning good looks. But it could also have something to do with the fact that I look nothing like any of the Vietnamese people and I stand out quite a lot with my height as well. Not sure how I feel about all of this staring yet... The children smile and say "hello" at least!

-Food: CHEAP.

-Food: DELICIOUS. lots of rice, lots of noodles, lots of new muscles in my hand from using chopsticks 24/7.

-Food: Dragonfruit is my new favorite fruit. I eat it for breakfast every morning and I'm in love.

-School work has been pretty crazy lately. We dove right into assignments and papers when we got to Vietnam and it was a bit overwhelming. Things are calming down a little bit now.

-Went to the night market and bought tons of cheap clothes, bags, jewelry, and food. It was all worth it.

-Going to Ha Long Bay tomorrow for a weekend trip!

-Going on our rural visit to Sapa on Monday for a week.

-Spring break is in 2 weeks and I can't wait! My plan is to go to Ho Chi Minh City, check out the floating market, take a train to Dalat, check out the country side, then go to Da Nang and spend the rest of the time chilling on the beach.

Here's photos!

Lots of traffic

Dragon Fruit!

Yenling trying to cross the road (she's in pink)

Children on a bus, all very intrigued by the gringo on the bus next to theirs


Snail soup

Our host brothers, Hien and Khan

Just trying to walk down the sidewalk..

Yenling and I by the lake

Happy International Women's Day!

(Hope this update is okay, Mom!)


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