Ever since one of my friends did a presentation on Vietnam in the 8th grade I have been dreaming about going there. In january 2017 when I finally had time off I looked into traveling for three weeks to Vietnam, but something didn’t quite feel right. I didn’t just want to go and experience Vietnam like every other common tourist, I wanted to experience what it would be like living in Vietnam embracing the Vietnamese culture and everyday life.
And before I knew it, there i was! Ready to start my eight month internship with IAJN. IAJN – The perfect match i thought! And so it was. I never imagined that I would be welcomed with such open arms and took care of in such a manner. Going to work with IAJN has been like going to see my extended family each day.
Having spent most of my life in a country with no more than 6 million people I can honestly say that moving to Saigon was scary! The first few days I was afraid to leave my apartment and I was sure that I would die if I entered the traffic. Sometimes it could take me up to 15 minutes before crossing the street, standing on one side hoping that people would somehow stop so I could pass. But they didn’t. Just like life it just kept going and going until I took a leap and stepped off the curb. I guess that both in life and in the Saigon traffic you just have to jump at the opportunities you get.
So here I am nine months later walking out in traffic like I have no care in the world and enjoying this amazing country that has giving me so many experiences and new friendships which I hope will last forever! As I begin my last week here I am torn between missing home and never wanting to leave.
It’s hard to imagine not being greeted everyday by the friendly people in my neighborhood on Phạm Viết Chánh street, who are sitting outside enjoying their morning coffee, doing the laundry, preparing today’s meals or singing karaoke.
Everybody here is so friendly and every morning my neighbors ask if I want to join them for some Vietnamese Coffee – which keeps me shaking for the rest of the day. I love how life here spills outside the houses, bringing people together. In Denmark, where it is cold, everybody sits inside their own apartment or house and that thought makes me not want to go back! One thought I have also been having lately is “where am i going to get bún thịt nướng?” I get sad by the thought of not going to Nguyễn Trung Trực anymore, where they have the best spring rolls and fish sauce!
Working with IAJN has been an amazing experience. Asan international student myself working with returning international alumni and with a team from Australia, the Netherlands and Vietnam is quite the combination if you ask me.
But it has also been hard sometimes! Being the restless and adventures person that I am, it has been hard working on the IAJN job board and study destinations, because seeing all the great opportunities that are out there makes me want to apply for a job or a masters in another country daily! Luckily I have the IAJN family to help me make the right decision when i am done with my internship and have saved up some money!
So who knows? Maybe next year you will see me in Melbourne, Paris or somewhere in South America. No matter where I will never forget the time I spent in Vietnam. It will now and forever be my second home.