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Goodnight Vietnam

Goodnight Vietnam

It’s my last night in Vietnam.

Wow. That’s a statement that I’ve been dreading admitting to myself, for a few weeks now. To be honest, I’ve been putting off writing this post for the last few days because I knew it would be strange and somewhat upsetting. I’ve also been touring Vietnam with my family for the past week, so that’s been a good excuse to avoid blog writing too. But even now, as I write this, I’m realizing that this is going to be a little more difficult than I realized.

While I suppose all good things must come to an end, I don’t quite know if I’m ready to leave yet. There is a big part of me that is quite excited and happy to go home … snuggling in warm cotton socks, cuddling with my goofy puppy, snacking on American food. (Oh my gosh macaroni & cheese, brownies, cinnamon rolls, sautéed spinach, delivery pizza, grilled cheese, Chipotle… I have a list, don’t worry!) I cannot wait to see my dear friends too; grab twin lattes at Metropolis and catch up with them. I miss both of my homes, Chicago (of course) and even little Dayton, Ohio. I know that it will be good to go back.

But the other part of me knows how much I will miss Saigon, and this beautiful, peaceful country I’ve been living in. I went back to my dorm today in District 10, grabbed an iced ca phe sua da, sat on the stoop just outside the front gate, and watched the motorbikes speed by. It was weird knowing that Ash wasn’t going to run out to meet me, or that the whole group wasn’t meeting to grab a cab to District 1. While I was enjoying the solitude for a little bit after a long family trip, it was also nostalgic and somewhat heartbreaking. I realize that even if I return here someday, the incredible experience that I’ve had will never, ever repeat itself. Things will change here, and life will go on. Sometimes it’s just a little hard to let go.

I also know that when I arrive home, I will get asked over and over by my lovely friends and family, “Well, how was Vietnam?” … And how do I answer that? I have no clue!! Do I tell them about the craziness of living in Saigon for four months? Do I tell them of my international travels and very sketchy eating all over Southeast Asia? Do I tell them of all the wonderful and hilarious new friends I’ve made? All of the absolutely incredible things I’ve learned? All of that and more, I guess. It’s just a little bit daunting to answer that question in two sentences… to sum up a life-changing semester in just a few minutes of casual conversation.

Perhaps I’ll begin with how I have changed as a person. I’m a lot more relaxed… I can truly go with the flow in any crazy situation. I’m a lot braver than before, as my cliff-jumping and motorbike-riding can prove. I actually enjoy the heat and humidity (well, maybe just the heat). But mostly, I’m just happier. I have a much better perspective on where I belong in the world… I realize that I am so lucky to have had this incredible experience. I am eternally grateful to Vietnam for what it has given me.

Though I am not ready to leave this wonderful country, I will always carry it with me in my heart. Vietnam, I love you. Until we meet again … goodbye and goodnight.

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