Six Months in Hanoi – 7 Things I’ve Learnt Since Moving Abroad

Six Months in Hanoi – 7 Things I’ve Learnt Since Moving Abroad

Time tracks our progress and existence, it’s out of our control and often seems to move in unpredictable ways.

In some ways, I feel like I’ve been in Hanoi forever. If I think about my last weeks in Sheffield, they were a lifetime ago. It was less than year but I can’t remember what I was wearing, eating, or how I felt about it all other than being completely overwhelmed about seeing everyone close to me for the last time in a while.

But what’s strange is that it has gone so quickly. It’s hard to believe that we’ve already been here for half a year, we’re halfway through our work contracts and thinking about what to do next. It’s been a whirlwind and I’ve certainly learnt a lot.

1. The friends you make are for life.
I didn’t know what to expect from my new friendships before moving out here. I was worried about being lonely and expected to hang out with people who I didn’t feel 100% about just for the company. What I’ve actually got is close friends who are more than just people to hang out with. These are the kind of friendships that I couldn’t even hope to make but I’m so pleased that I have.

2. My mind can change so easily.
I’ve made the decision to move to Hanoi, there are many other cities we could’ve chosen, and I think it’s because of this that I’m always assessing how I feel. Moving abroad definitely comes with ups and downs. Overall, this is 100% the best thing I’ve ever done for myself, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that it can’t all be positive all of the time. Some days I love this place and sometimes I find it so frustrating!

3. You can do things that you never thought you could.
I know the move was big, but I don’t mean that. There’s loads of little things that I just do now, that when I used to think about them in England I would be like – how? I didn’t think I’d be able to actually cross the road here. It’s true. I now cross the road and it’s small but it shows how the big things can mean just as much as the small things.

4. People who you cannot communicate with at all (hello, language barrier) will be incredibly kind to you.
I see this around me all the time. We have a guy who makes sure our bikes are safe in the garage and every single day he takes my bike up to the road to get it ready for me. If he sees me coming, he makes a beeline to make sure he can help. He’s even given Matty and I breakfast before our work shift before.

5. There are so many things you can live without.
I’m in a capital city, it is by no means a desert in the middle of nowhere. But, it is still a city in a developing country 13 hours away from home. There are a lot of things I thought I would miss, but it turns out I don’t really care about them. Going clothes shopping springs to mind as one. I still want decent clothes but it’s not something I prioritise in the same way and practically definitely has to take the lead more than it did in England. Also, I thought I had to always have an iPhone. Turns out I don’t.

6. Happiness should not be underestimated.
Teaching ESL is sometimes branded as not being a ‘real job’ or ‘proper teaching’. I think it would be easy for me to care about that. As it stands, I love teaching here. It’s a lot of fun and lacks a lot of the pressures of teaching in the UK while still keeping the core element – ensuring that students learn. I’m really happy in the job and I don’t think the importance of that should be undermined.

7. Don’t let your fears overrule.
I wouldn’t call myself a naturally adventurous person (I don’t think anyone else would call me that either). I get nervous about things but what I’ve learnt from moving abroad is that it is okay to be nervous, but you shouldn’t let it overrule. Accept it as a part of who you are and then prove your fears wrong. This approach has only done good things for me so far.

I’m sure there’s a lot more for me to learn as I continue to live in Hanoi and wherever is next for me.