Swimming in the Rain, and Other Small Adventures

While my year of study abroad was full of huge exciting moments often brought on by traveling from city to city on a monthly (sometimes weekly) basis, my life as a teacher in Vietnam moves at a much slower pace.

This is not a bad thing in the least, but it means that my “blog-worthy” moments aren’t as obvious or even as exciting to the average reader. Since moving to Can Tho over a month ago I have not left the city, nor have I ventured especially far from my neighborhood. I realized this today when I met up with a student for coffee, and she took me to a location I had assumed was super far away – the Big C shopping mall.

The mall is maybe 10 minutes from my house by motorbike – not exactly an insurmountable distance. The fact that this was a big excursion for me has made me sit back and reflect on how I spend my time here, and why, despite the lack of movement, I’ve generally been very happy.

Coffee Time class with my students
Coffee Time class with my students

To give a little context, I’ve defined my post-college year by a need to move around. After graduation I ran to Nantucket for a summer, then moved back home to St. Louis for a PR internship. Returning home was not a decision I had anticipated, and the minute I finished my internship I began traveling as much as I could. From January to August of 2014, I think the longest stretch of time I spent in St. Louis at one time was 4 weeks, and that was mostly because my plans to visit Israel fell through. You can see a sampling of my travels in the photos below. Basically, I tend to get antsy being in one place for a long time.

Hanging out with a sea lion in the Galapagos Islands
Hanging out with a sea lion in the Galapagos Islands
New Orleans Jazz Fest with the family
New Orleans Jazz Fest with the family
Exploring the Oregon Coast with Annin
Exploring the Oregon Coast with Annin

Despite my love of travel, I’ve found myself happy and generally content to get to know Can Tho. While I would of course like to see other parts of Vietnam and South East Asia, I don’t feel any rush to get out and about. I only just made plans to travel to Tra Vinh (2 hours away), to visit a friend, and have no other excursions on the horizon. Part of this is definitely my teaching schedule, but I think it has more to do with discovering a different type of excitement. An excitement that comes from really getting to know a new place, and making it my home.

Because that’s what Can Tho is now, it’s my home for the next year. And it’s full of small adventures, from making new friends to learning how to maneuver a bicycle on the crowded streets. It’s going to the nearby swimming pool right before a storm, and deciding with my friends that we won’t let the rain stop us, because this is Vietnam and pools don’t shut down when it rains. It’s trying endless new foods, learning how to get my students excited about learning how to order in a restaurant, and struggling to understand what my neighbors are trying to tell me when they emphatically point at my bicycle and wave their hands (still no idea on that one…).

The nearby "police pool" as it starts to rain
The nearby “police pool” as it starts to rain (photo taken by Selina)

I’ve settled into a great routine of coffee shop afternoons, classes in the evening, and grabbing beer with friends after work. And despite the routine, it still feels new and exciting. Maybe this will change in a few weeks, but for now I’m going to sit back, sip my coffee, and enjoy the small adventures as they happen.

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2 thoughts on “Swimming in the Rain, and Other Small Adventures

  1. I like the idea of small adventures. Makes a great deal of sense….one enjoys the forest more when you know the trees. You have found the MALL…..all is lost..and a little child ( your student) will lead them. We are under a tornado watch and it is endless rain. The dogs?rain?almost impossible. They hate to get their lpaws wet.Had a bad allergy,cold,mold attack this weekend. I almost sound like a human being. Do you go to the movies?I wondered if that was a way to help learn the language. The people from Ferguson had planned a day today of real protests and the rain is getting heavier. The whole thing is a pitiful situation. I am hopeful that reconstruction with in the police and courts comes of this and that it helps. Miss you. As always,Angel and Charlie send their love

    Sent from my iPad

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    • Hi Grandma,
      I hope the rain and tornadoes stop soon so the dogs can go back outside. Actually, my students are kind of like your dogs – when it rains they don’t come to class! Which I guess makes sense when you’re on a bike, but if I have to be there, so should they, haha.
      As for movies, there’s actually a movie theater by my house, but the Vietnamese film industry is pretty small – according to my friends they maybe put out 5 films a year. My language is definitely not up to par enough to understand a movie, but eventually I do think this would be a good way to learn. For now I’m still practicing reading and trying to pick out words when people talk to me.
      I’ve been reading a bit about what’s happening in St. Louis, and I agree with your hope that this will lead to comprehensive police reform, as well as an open discussion on race relations within our city. It’s a sad thing when I say I’m from St. Louis, and this is what comes to mind…

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