Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Tonight I leave for my trip. At 1:30am my shuttle leaves from Hartford and arrives at JFK at 5:30, for my flight at 7:10. It stops at San Francisco at 10:20am, and then I take a flight at 1:15pm to finally arrive at Ho Chi Minh City at 10pm the next day (August 1st). A long ride ahead of me, but I don't mind it much. I actually like airplanes, as long as I have a window seat and my music.

Today I've been packing, settling last-minute issues, trying in vain to straighten up my bedroom for my year of absence. It seems like time really got away from me this summer. The next thing I knew after I graduated, I was getting ready to leave. But when I reflect on it, I did do a lot that I wanted to do this summer. I spent some time working at camp, I had a big going-away party, saw some friends from school, and hung out a lot with my family. Also, I got a few books read, and I'll be taking with me the two that I'm in the middle of, "Kafka on the Shore" by Murakami, and "The Way of a Pilgrim" by an anonymous Russian monk. I also found my dad's copy of "Don Quixote", which is incredibly long, so I'm sure that will keep me busy. Hopefully, though, I will not spend all my time reading in my room, and will venture forth to explore my new country and meet new people.

A lot of people have asked me what I'm doing and why, so I figured that with this first post of my blog before my trip I will state a few things. First of all, the point of this blog is to keep people up to date on what I'm doing, with pictures and musings hopefully daily. I haven't done any blogging since my old livejournal from the high school days, so I'm a little rusty, but I think I'll have plenty to write about. Although I'm excited about my trip, I suppose my biggest fear is feeling cut off from the world and my family and friends back home, so this blog should work to keep me connected.

I decided in my senior year that I wanted to take some time off after graduating and see the world a little. Since I'm short on cash, the best solution to me seemed to be working in a different country, and I realized that the one skill I have to impart to others in the world is that I know English. Language has always been a fascinating topic for me, and even though I know practically no Vietnamese, the idea of being immersed in a completely new language and culture intrigues me. I've always felt drawn to Asian culture since it is so different from Western culture in many ways, and I feel like living and working within a new environment will help me to better understand who I am and where I'm coming from. I narrowed my search down to Vietnam when I discovered that it is one of the fastest growing economies in the region, with a strong desire to learn English and become more active in the world. The cost of living is still cheap and English teachers are paid relatively well. In America, Vietnam still bears the stigma from the war and the communist government, but it appears that it has changed a lot in the decades since, and I'd love to witness that first hand. I'm always following the beat of a different drummer, so when people say "why Vietnam?" I just think, "why not?". I'll be paving a new trail, and there may be some risks, but I'm willing to face them.

The day after I arrive there, I will be spending a week in Cambodia as part of a joint-training session. This includes a trip to Angkor Wat, an old Buddhist temple site, which looks beautiful from pictures I've seen. I'm not sure if I'll be able to get on the internet and update my blog then, so if not I'll write about it after the fact. Then, it's back to Saigon for another three weeks of training. After this, Languagecorps will help me find a job at a local language center in the city and I'll search for an apartment nearby. Should be exciting, but it is still the unknown at this point, so I'm a little nervous. From my experience, everything usually works out in the end, though.

This isn't goodbye, but "see you later", America. Here we go!