Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My New Family and Home

           Today was another busy day, we did a lot of important things, like have breakfast, leave our hotel and drive west to our school campus. Oh yeah, and we met our host families for the first time!

            Even though the wake up time was much later today, I woke up early (around 5:30) to work on my first Vietnam movie, and to write yesterdays riveting and inspiring blog. After I completed the tasks at had my roommate and I went up to breakfast on the top floor of our hotel, floor 8, where we got a great 360 degree view of old Hanoi, and the skyscrapers in the distance. I had a more American breakfast; omelet, toast, bacon, apple juice and some noodles for good measure. Once we were finished with breakfast we dropped down into the meeting room where our director, Thay (Mr.) Vuong, gave us a brief overview of our classes for the year, or semester. Then we got down to the nitty gritty discipline stuff (as he calls it), and after the meeting was over we packed up our things and headed through the narrow busy streets, with large bags in tow, to the larger street where our large bus could pick us up, then we drove out of the old quarter and into the old colonial quarter, where we had lunch at a French restaurant, I didn’t like the first few courses very much, a salad and pumpkin soup. But the main course I kind of liked; a pork cutlet. On our way out of the restaurant we saw that the restaurant also has a deli attached to it, and they have all the different types of American brand kettle chips, so rest assured, “all be back”. Once we hit the road again we began driving through government area, with many different embassies and government buildings. Hanoi is a very interesting city, where the center of the city is actually moving west, to where our school is, many main government buildings such as the museum of Hanoi and the national convention center are now located here and also there are countless sky scrapers literally popping up like daisies on top of the old buildings that once stood beneath them (and yes I am proud I thought of that metaphor). But in many cases there we no buildings that stood beneath them, but it was actually just rice fields and some trees. The streets are also wider, and drivers seem to be a little more aware of traffic laws. When first driving in and seeing all the tall skyscrapers and wide streets and palm trees, the combination made me think that I was driving through Miami! We also passed the tallest building in Vietnam, which was either just completed, or going to be soon, and it is, I believe, 77 stories tall, which is crazy tall. The building is very close to our school and soon we were there, unfortunatally we wouldn’t be able to see the classrooms until tomorrow, because we had to go to a larger room on the campus for the reception where we would meet our host families! The room where it was held was large, and had a stage, music, and even a DJ! It also had a large table with food, and many different smaller tables for each family to sit down and talk, all the chairs and tables were covered with white cloth, and the entire room reminded people of a Bar mitzvah party. But this was no Bar Mitzvah, this was the host family reception, and we were all very nervous.

Tallest Building in Hanoi, this is not my picture,
But I do have a less fancy picture of it (copyright wikipedia)

We all were huddled around two small tables chatting about the trip and other small talk, and then after about 30 minutes, three o’clock, our host families began to arrive, one by one, almost as if there were someone standing outside, letting them in at 5 minute intervals. Once the first family arrived, and the student was called over, everyone stopped and stared over at them, adding to the nervousness of each person called up. Soon the table felt like a game show, and everyone was wondering who was going to be voted off the island next. It was now about 3:10, and about 5 families were already there, then the next family came in, with them they had a giant bouquet of flowers, and then my name was called, this was my new family! And did I mention they brought me flowers too! I walked over to them with Thay Vuong, and I greeted them in Vietnamese, and then we started to talk in English. There are four of them in the family, and they have two daughters, one is 16 and lives at home, and the other goes to school in Munich, Deutschland. They also all speak English, not fluently but very well. My dad is the Dean of Investment Economics at the National University, and also teaches, and my mom works at the Ministry of Property. But now back to the reception. After some small talk and some snacks such as fruit, and tea and orange juice, our director started to speak to everyone about this year and the host family program. After he was finished we collected my bags and headed down to the street, where we got into a taxi and drove home.

My house is located around seven Kilometers away from the school, it is located just off of a major street, far enough away so that most of the traffic sounds are drowned out, but close enough to be less then a 45 second walk.
To get there you must walk down an alley, and a few doors down there is a gate, and behind that gate is my house, it is very nice. It is 4 or 5 stories tall, I haven’t exactly counted them yet, but the floors are relatively small, around 2 or 3 rooms per floor. My floor is on the 3rd floor (and no that’s not a typo, I do have my own floor), but from floor 3 on it’s bedrooms. On my floor I have my bedroom, and across from that is a living room kind of area where I can entertain guests, and also a computer. Attached to that room is a bathroom with a shower. On the second floor is the kitchen/ dinning room, the actual living room, and I believe an office, but I haven’t been in there yet. After unpacking I came back downstairs, where we talked some more and drank German tea, ist wünderbar. Also we had a mid autumn festival staple, moon cake, it is a small cake, about the size of a, hmm, well it’s about the size of a moon cake, sorry it’s late and I’m having some trouble thinking of an example. Oh ok I’ve got one, but this is going to require some effort on you part, this is hands on blogging, ok, step 1: take either your left or right hand, which ever is more convenient, and hold it out in front of you, step 2: extend pointer finger and thumb outwards, step 3: form a C with those two appendages, Step 4: that is roughly the size of a moon cake, admire. So inside of the cake is egg, bean, and a sweet cake coating. Next we had a bit of time before dinner, so I wrote a bit in my journal. For dinner we had thin sliced beef, homemade French fries, rice and vegitables. It was delicious. Soon after dinner, around 8 o’clock, I was exhausted and went to bed almost immediately, and slept all night until 5:30. Until next time, this is Andrew signing out.

1 comment:

  1. Do you get grandparents along with the family???
    See if you can get the recipe for moon cake ! Want you to know I put in the effort to check out the size!
    Sounds like the food is fabulous!
    lol mm