21 May 2015
Right now, at this very moment, a few of my friends are in Vietnam. It’s about 5 in the morning there, so they are probably sleeping. They are in Vietnam because they are working in clinics, giving toothbrushes to children, educating people on health prevention techniques, traveling, eating lots of good food, and generally, having a great time.
This time last year, I was preparing to go to Vietnam for the first time in my life. Heck, I was preparing to travel abroad for the first time in my life. And I was scared. And I was concerned for my safety. And now that I have returned, all I want to do is go back. Vietnam, I loved Vietnam. I was able to travel to the very north to Sa Pa, and to the pretty much the very south to Can Tho. I’m just missed the central part of Vietnam.
6 July 2015
I’ve recently looked back at journal entries that I wrote during my time in Vietnam, and there were many times where something along the lines of, “I’m having such an amazing time” and “Things seriously can’t get any better.” So, it’s safe to say that I really want to go back to Vietnam. I am still glad that I still keep in contact with some of my close friends there and family members. I talked to chi Linh only last night, and we caught up. Even though we have been a part for so long, I feel like our relationship is still the same.
So, because of such positive experiences I had last year, it was only natural for me to try to go back (despite the fact that my dad didn’t want me to). I applied to a study abroad program at the beginning of the year. It was to be in Can Tho, and I was excited for it. I pictured me and my cousins hanging out. I pictured myself learning how to ride a motorbike. I pictured myself finally, visiting central Vietnam. I wanted to take this opportunity to really see a future where I could do development work or research in Vietnam.
However, a while after I applied, I learned that the program was cancelled. Not enough students had applied to sustain the program. Naturally, I bawled my eyes out. I cried for maybe three hours. I looked at it as my last chance I would ever have to visit Vietnam. The program only occurs in the fall, and I was entering my senior year in college. Plus, my parents wouldn’t really let me go the long period of time that I was planning to go if I were to just go there by myself. Plus, if I ever went to Vietnam on my own, it wouldn’t be the same. I wouldn’t be doing the things that the study abroad program would have offered me.
So, it’s safe to to say that I didn’t take the news very well. My study abroad advisor (who is the best person ever) was super sympathetic about what had happened to me. She advised me on what I could do next. Well, I could do another study abroad program in a different country. At first, I hesitated about this because I wanted to go to Vietnam because I wanted to see if I could see a future for myself in Vietnam. My advisor suggested places like Thailand and Hong Kong. Both are great places to go, but for some reason, I didn’t feel “right” about going. It was just this intangible feeling. I asked some people for advice.
A week later, after considering my options, I sat down with my study abroad advisor. It’s true that I considered just studying one more semester at Berkeley. When I was freshman, studying abroad was not even in my radar, so it would just be sticking to the plan. But, I told her that I would be going to South Africa.
I will write a post about why South Africa later.
My advisor supported me in my decision and she outlined all the steps that I needed to take. Because students that were going to study abroad in South Africa were going to be leaving earlier than students in many other study abroad programs, the timeline to get my applications and other components together was much shorter. But, I did it. It feels like a whirlwind.
And now, I’m sitting at the airport, waiting to board my flight to Germany (layover). I’m feeling very stressed and very anxious. I spilled coffee on my laptop earlier this morning, and it’s really stressing me out. I hope that my laptop survives until December (such a long time!!). But, I’m excited. It’s going to be a thirty-three hour trip!! I got to wrap this up now because we’re boarding, but this post is to officially announce that this blog will no longer be centered around Vietnam, but around my professional endeavors and South Africa.
Wish me luck!
Over and out.