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Life in Long An: My Current Experience teaching English in Southern Vietnam

Entry log #10 16/03/15

I am writing this log at a café. I have much to talk about. For one, my Tet holiday is over. It’s been over since the end of February and I have to say that despite it being much shorter than my holiday break in China, it was very refreshing. It was good to get away for a few days. I’m back into my schedule and I have to see that my work here feels better. I don’t feel a burden at this point. I feel now that I am over the culture shock. Vietnam now feels like home. My skin colour has changed as well. When I glance at my arms, I see that they are becoming brown. I have the Hank Hill tan now. I also attend an English club with some of my best Vietnamese friends here. Last class, we discussed advertising and watched a video of a troubled youngster you overcame his difficulty. He became a motivational speaker because a teacher he had helped him realize his potential. It made me feel good to see a video like that, I tend to watch depressing or just down right sick shit online. The video also made me think of my time teaching here. There have been great days and of course ones that are the opposite. I can now look back and see my error in teaching. I can honestly say that my fault lies with my overtly serious. It is partly due to my university experience where I really pushed myself in the first two years. In that time, I nearly had a break down. But like many things in my life, I’ve survived and persevered. The classroom seems a lot more fun in my eyes now. I’m feeling that the children are liking me more. Having them learn in a way in which they have fun is the key. So now I devote much of the period towards activities and games. I’ve gotten past that slump that made my classes boring. I won’t lie, I get into the habit of lecturing. For young learners, another approach is needed.

I briefly mentioned my Tet holiday. Now, I want to go into more detail about it. I had a week and a half off. It was much shorter than my Lunar New Year break in China. But like I said, it was very refreshing. I went to two places. The first place I went to was my good friend’s hometown again, Bến Tre. Another name I have for that place is ‘Coconut Paradise’. The reason is that it produces a lot of coconuts and I just love it. The environment is much cleaner there. The air especially is really fresh. That’s a place I could live in forever. If I wanted to open an English language school in Vietnam, that would be a nice location, even for a hostel. I spent a few days there with a family. I had great meals with the family and really appreciate their hospitality. That’s one thing I really like about the Vietnamese. They are really and I can say genuinely nice. Great food and people! I came back to Tan An with some of my good friend’s family. I had dinner and a few drinks with them. Great times! Despite not being able to talk with them in fluent English I could get past that. Afterwards, I went to a café to meet up with the American teacher that was here before me. He came back from Turkey due to disagreements he had with the school there. He’s back teaching in Vietnam but now in the south. He’s in Northern Vietnam this time. When he finishes his contract, he’s leaving Asia to return to Latin America. He likes it there more and to each their own. I wish him the best of luck when he gets there. I would like Latin America, but Vietnam so far has exceeded my expectations. Not once here have I felt threatened. There has been bullshit at work don’t get me wrong, but again I stressed that it could be worse, I could be back in the Chinese desert working for Yinchuan’s Jabba the Hutt.

The fireworks on the day Lunar New Year begin was pretty good. I honestly enjoyed it more than in China. In Beijing, I remember one some firecracker nearly hit my face. In China, they shoot off fireworks like madmen. In Vietnam, it’s much tamer and I prefer that much more. After midnight, I went to a pagoda with my friends and we received lucky money for the New Year. A few days after, I went to Đà Lạt. I with my boss’s family, and some of her grandchildren who I actually taught before came along. The journey there was long but I was really occupied with looking at the countryside. On the way there from Long An, you can really see the change in landscape. North and South Vietnam are separated by a mountainous region. When we drove up the mountains, it felt as If I was on an airplane. My ears began to pop when we drove up the mountains. The weather changes a bit but I still find it really hot. The change in landscape was something I thought was amazing to see. In Đà Lạt, the species of trees differ than in Long An. You find it rare to see a tropic tree there. The climate there seemed like some regions of the United States I’ve been to. Another thing I want to add about this place is its resemblance to French Canada and Europe. The streets there felt like some places I’ve been to in Europe and in Quebec because of the French influence that continues to be seen there in architecture they built. This city was built by the French at the time they ruled Vietnam. They’ve established a colony that lasted eighty six years, much shorter in comparison to the colony of New France in North America that ended with the British Conquest in 1763. You also see quite a few tourists there mostly from Europe. Đà Lạt is also known for its flowers. One day we went to the flower park. I took a few pictures there. We also went to a few theme parks and one that stood was the last one we went to on our way back to Tan An. At this theme park, it had a replica temple with a shrine to the first Vietnamese King. As well, I took a picture beside a statue of a couple known in Vietnamese folklore as the father and mother of all Vietnamese people. It was a great trip, I’d love to go back to see more. Maybe another time, possibly when my contract is up in a few months. Time will tell, but looks like I would come back. Including coming back to teach in this great country which I’ve learned to love and which has helped me. I love Vietnam!


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