Let's Talk About It: Hanoi Experience 1

My first months in Hanoi, Vietnam was not I would call amazing but it was one of the most shaping moments that made my stay for 9 and a half months awesome (if I may borrow the word). Everything is new--new type of bed--the hard one; new transportation situation--no jeepneys instead the city is full of motorbikes so if you are new you either ride the motorbike taxi or the car taxi (which makes your wallet empty most of the time); new language--of course English is rare and so if you don't know anything about their six tones language, sign language is probably the best way to communicate which is often not understood exactly how you want it; new people--everyone is a stranger in the beginning and the best person to talk to is yourself because surely you will understand; new food--almost every meal is eaten with rice noodles which lasts in your stomach for maybe two hours and then you are hungry again (if you know me I am more for rice or bread); new environment---walking in the streets seems to be walking in a very huge mall because almost every house is a shop as well; new kind of attention--it seems that it is not normal to see someone like me so as I walk in the streets people stare at me.

The easiest way to get adjusted to all these new things and way of life when you are in a foreign country is to have an open mind. When you have an open mind, no matter what differences you have with the people you meet you are willing to understand culture shocks and think through how you can work with the differences. In the beginning of these new things my mind is battling with all the differences and how to deal with them. I must admit it is easy to adjust to one or two differences but with these many I had to have the heart for learning from the Vietnamese people. God had to shape my heart and mind to be flexible to all these changes and learn how to live with it. The first two months were those of which I asked myself and God "Why am I here?" and those were the months that I have to be constantly reminded that I came for the people and for God. I love learning about culture but I never thought that I will have moments in my life where I would say "Ok, enough of new things. Please bring me back home." We all have the tendency to reject change especially if it is so evident that it brings us out of our comfortable place and breaks a lot of fragile things inside us. But then, it is in those changes that we are little by little brought into this world as more mature, more able, more prepared, and with more strength to face higher battles. It is in those moments where we learn that we have to depend on someone else besides ourselves. It is in those moments that we treasure the friends we discover who help us find strength to face the day. It is in those moments that we realize we need God to take control because we cannot do it.

The beginnings of staying in Hanoi, Vietnam were difficult days, and months but those were beginning of new things in my life that molded me into more than I can ever imagine I could be. As I tell you more about my experiences you will notice how my point of view of everything changed.


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