The GoGlobal Blog

Xin Chao!

Xin Chao!

One week ago, I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, fully unpacking my backpack for the first time. It was a surreal experience, but one that had to take place eventually. I had grown to love living out of my pack, even if it meant sometimes (or always) wearing a wrinkled t-shirt or getting frustrated because the way things fit perfectly meant having to dig deep for my contacts. It became my home away from home, and packing it – each time with a little something extra – became a relaxing ritual to help me prepare for the next leg of my journey.

Since unpacking, I have been introduced to a whole slew of new flavors, taken my first ride on a motorbike (I survived!), done my first load of laundry not in the sink, and gotten through syllabus week. I have met 16 other American students, as well as 17 dedicated partners from Open University, where we are studying, and countless students at our dorm, all more than willing to help us settle in, find the best food spots, and get involved.

Even with the tremendous support from our new Vietnamese friends, it has taken me until the last few days to be confident enough to order street food. I generally feel embarrassed when I cannot speak enough of a language to order what I want and have to use English, relying on others to know my language instead of knowing enough of theirs. So far, though, every local I have met has been kind enough to help me understand the menu, practice my pronunciation, or even show me how to eat local dishes. I always struggle, and we often laugh together, but each encounter gives me more confidence to interact and practice what I know. I have promised myself that come December, I will be able to correctly pronounce and order my favorite dishes.

So far, everything has seemed to be going so fast, and yet somehow still slow, but I am enjoying every second of it. Just five days ago I was zipping through traffic on the back of my partner’s motorbike after only a brief “Xin Chao!”, trying to soak in as much of my surroundings as possible while also talking over the noise of traffic. Like every new relationship, especially with my complete lack of Vietnamese language skills and incessant honking from every direction, our conversation started out a little choppy, but before long it felt like we had known each other for years. And, perhaps more exciting than my courses or the amazing view I have of the skyline from my room, in just two days, I will be heading with my partner, Quynh, to her hometown to try some more Vietnamese dishes and do some hiking. Friday cannot come soon enough!

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