Home again, home againApril 12, 2012 | Alexandra, ECH, North Thang Long College, WUSC, Vietnam
After an insanely long journey home (4 stopovers including an eleven hour layover in Korea) I’m back in Ottawa, decompressing and readjusting. The last two-three weeks at my placement at North Thang Long Economic Technical College, on the outskirts of Hanoi, were extremely busy. Although I had plenty to do during the course of my internship, I should’ve known that my most active times would be towards the end. Things always seem to work out like that! On March 26th the college celebrated its tenth anniversary, with speeches, singing competitions, and traditional dancing. Personally I was most impressed with the break dancing and popping and locking performances by the students! Many now-successful alumni and municipal officials were also in attendance. Also, during my last week there I was able to give a 2 hour, one-off workshop on gender equality and healthy relationships. I had been preparing for this workshop for a month and was worried about how it would be received. Fortunately, it was well attended (almost 40 students) and even though there were some sleepyheads in the audience I also saw some students taking notes. Hopefully, this presentation can be continued in the future… Additionally, with the help of WUSC and a Vietnamese sexual health expert, the college is organizing a big student event on reproductive health and gender for the end of April! I wish I could attend, but I still plan to help out and stay involved even from a far. All in all my time at North Thang Long has been an incredibly valuable experience and really rewarding as well. The staff and students were so kind and patient with me. I’ll never forget their generosity.
After working hard at the college and working hard at adjusting to life in Hanoi, I have to work hard to readjust to the life I left behind for three months. In Hanoi, everything was so incredibly busy, loud, and crowded. Personal space did not exist, especially on the bus. This was my greatest adjustment, and I’m very proud to have burst my personal space bubble! I learned to absolutely love everything about Hanoi that caused such great culture shock at the beginning of the journey. Now, back in Ottawa, the city is too quiet. There are no motorbikes here, nobody honks at each other, even the dogs don’t seem to bark quite as loud. Also, there’s space. Everyone is spread out and mostly keeps to themselves. While I thought I would be comforted by these things when I got back, they are actually a bit freaky. But I know in time, just like in Hanoi, I’ll get used to it. For now, I’m excited to see my friends and family, but also to reflect on all the wonderful things I’ve experienced during my time in Vietnam!