Friday, May 11, 2012

My Return to Hades

          Humidity is no one's friend.  This past week in Hanoi, as daytime temperatures hovered around 100° fahrenheit (38°C), high humidity levels pushed the heat index up past 125°F (52°C), which, in layman's terms, is crazy hot.  Hot, sticky, sweaty, you feel like you're cooking in your own juices, HOT.  Really, it's hot here.

          Beyond that, I'm feeling a little strange now here in Hanoi, as I am not quite at the point where I am preparing for my departure, but almost. Today is May 9, and in just 3 weeks, the program will be over, and I will be back home in sunny (but much cooler!) California. I don't know exactly how to feel. I am happy with the thought of going home and being back in Santa Barbara with friends and family, but at the same time, I feel devastated that I have to say goodbye to everyone I’ve gotten to know so well this year. I've made so many great friends here in Vietnam, and the fact that I will have to say goodbye to them in just a few short weeks is an alarming one at the very least.

          I'm also getting ready to say goodbye to this blog, at least in its current form.  At first, when I started discussing the idea of keeping a blog last summer with my dad, I wasn't so excited. The thought of committing to produce fresh, interesting material for 9 whole months was something that didn't entirely appeal to me back then, but I am so grateful I made the choice now. I really have become attached and invested in this blog, and really put my all into it and am humbled that it has so many readers. But the blog is called Andrew Abroad....and Andrew is only going to be abroad for 3 more weeks.

          The dramatic change in the weather has been just one more reminder that my time here is short. Comfortable spring with temps in the mid-70s have given way to daily highs in the 90s. Things change abruptly in Hanoi - just a couple months ago we needed space heaters to keep warm, and now the thought of any additional heat makes me cringe. Now I've really come full circle, as the current climate reminds me of the first days after I arrived here. I remember being a young kid, fresh off the plane in ‘Nam, not knowing what to expect. The heat was intense and overpowering, and the sights and sounds were too. That same heat is back and I have many of the feelings, but much inside me has changed as well. I feel at home here in Hanoi, completely at ease in this chaotic city. 

          Now, instead of facing unknowns abroad, I’m wondering how I will adapt to life back in America. I’m not worried about my return to California. Far from it. But I do feel a sense of unease at the thought that I have grown so used to living here, and now I’m leaving it all behind again. But I will take things home with me; I’ve learned a lot about independence; and, living abroad has taught me valuable life lessons that are too many to explain (read my blog!!).

          The one subject that I've avoided thinking about so far is that I'll also be leaving behind a loving family here in Vietnam. Just 9 months ago they welcomed me into their home as a guest, but now we are a family. When I left my family in California, I at least had the comfort of knowing that we'd be together again in less than a year - but now, I don't know when I'll see my Vietnamese family next. Without question, this will be the most difficult part of leaving Hanoi. 

          My time here is short, 18 days left out of an original 269, and I plan on making the most of it. I have a lot of work to do finishing up classes over the next 2 weeks, but regardless I will make sure to not forget to appreciate what I have. Not only am I finishing in 3 weeks, but so is SYA Vietnam. I don't want the program to die with a whimper, I want it to finish with a bang!  (see Tet 2012 for an appropriate sized bang!!!)


  1. The travels you go on are amazing and you adventures in Hanoi sound amazing, just reading makes me feel like I'm there or watching it all happen.