The Blog I Should Have Done A Year Ago

Hi Guys!

I'm Hannah. I am in my mid twenties, I am an online ESL teacher and a PGCE Student at Manchester Metropolitan University. Trying to figure out life and how best to live it!

So I have finally decided to do a blog... which is something I should have done a year ago when I flew to the other side of the world. Now back in England I want to share with everyone some of the unique moments that made my experience to the far east so special, my continuing teaching journey and some great travel recommendations!

You could say I am being cliche but the last year has really opened my eyes to the possibilities in life. I have always been quite a spontaneous person who jumps at any opportunity to experience new things and teaching abroad confirmed to me that life just isn't meant to be lived in one place. I just really hope I can keep that mindset for the rest of my life or I sure as hell will be missing out!

I am also about to embark on my teaching qualification this September and hope to keep you updated on what is said to be an incredibly challenging year. I also don't keep in contact with my family as much as I should and hope that this blog will allow them to see more about me rather than the 'good bits' of life I put on Facebook.

So, I should probably start where I left off...

17th August 2017.

The decision to move away to Vietnam for 6 months came at a time when I was just about to finish my MA. I had previously worked in a couple of law firms the year before and realised that working in law was not what I had expected and was incredibly disappointed! My life long dream of becoming a solicitor suddenly vanished and I was at a time in my life where I had no idea of who I wanted to be. I saw this opportunity of a teaching internship and I have always loved travelling and became interested in applying and only just 2 months ago I did. My boyfriend of 9 years Josh, was also struggling to find work in Sheffield and his contract at the NHS was due to run out so the timing was perfect. We both knew we needed to get away.

After a a stressful month of packing up our apartment, selling our furniture, completing an English teaching course, finishing my dissertation, 5 flights flying back and forth between England and Spain... it was finally time to head off to Vietnam. Our flight was at 11.30pm from Malaga to Moscow, then to Hanoi. I have always been terrible with night flights and can't sleep for my life when in the air! Also, we flew with Aeroflot, a Russian airline that used to be the worlds deadliest which gave me such anxiety! The flight was pretty smooth but it was the same aircraft that Ryanair uses and after 5 hours my legs were so uncomfortable!

The funniest moment was when we both sat on the plane, put our seatbelts on and looked at each other in complete disbelief... what the hell were we doing!

Josh and I about to leave Spain!

At 5.30am in Moscow we had landed and thankfully there is a hotel inside the airport terminal so we booked there to sleep for our 13 hour wait. However, we didn't get into the hotel after running about for an hour trying to find it and panicking about having to speak Russian to someone (like seriously if you ever go to Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport its massive). If there was no hotel I have no idea how much of a zombie I would have been! And extra grateful for the shower we had!

Also could not get over how flat Russia was. I'm not too sure what I was expecting!

Finally, it was time for our 6.55pm flight to Hanoi which of course was a massive plane with great legroom and entertainment. 9 hours is pretty long and by the time we landed in Hanoi we were exhausted! Once we arrived we had to get our visa, and the immigration department spoke not one word of English (this is before we realised that barely anyone does speak English here!) and I was in such a panic filling out this form, most probably because I was so tired which doesn't help! Eventually we figured out how to fill it in and handed it to the authorities, within minutes our work visa was done so I was really impressed at how quick they were! When we left, we had the cutest Vietnamese girls waiting for us and were so smiley and welcoming.

CDW Hotel, Hanoi

The first thing about Vietnam that you notice is the heat. Its unreal. It feels like you're in a steam room (so my hair straighteners were pointless). We stayed at the Centre for Women and Development in Hanoi which was a really nice hotel which provided 3 meals a day so I couldn't complain about that. The view was also amazing looking out at West Lake.

I met my roommate Amy who arrived in the afternoon after I had got there. We instantly clicked and I knew we would be amazing friends. Josh's cousin David arrived too in the evening and we quickly formed a tight group! In fact, everyone who was on our course became great friends and we made so many memories together - bad and the good!

Me and Amy in Ta Hien Street - Hanoi's Beer Street

Josh and David

For a week we had an intense schedule of training and trips out and also, lots of drinking! We visited the Hao Lo Prison which was used by the French to torture the communist Vietnamese and also for prisoners of war during the Vietnam war which was pretty horrific! We also visited Ho Chi Minh's resting place and palace - we also had no idea that Ho Chi Minh is like a god over here and he is EVERYWHERE! We treated ourselves to a drink up Lotte Tower which is possibly the most grand and tallest hotel (apart from the Burj Khalifa in Dubai) I have been in with the most exceptional views. I even managed to make my own clay pot and paint it which I was surprised I was even capable of!!

Ho Chi Minh's Resting Place

Dinner at a local buffet!

Pottery lesson!

Hoa Lo Prison, Hanoi

24th August 2017

It was great getting to know everyone and the capital city but by the end of the week we were excited to finally get going to our final destination, Hai Phong. After a 2 hour journey on what seemed like the longest and straightest road ever, we arrived. Our hotel was not great. All I can say is we are incredibly lucky our 3* hotels really are all they are cracked up to be. I didn't have high expectations really but the basics I was! There were many people actually crying about it as it was quite a shock! There were cracks and dirt all up the walls, the oldest furniture you can imagine and we had no idea where we were at all!

Hai Phong City, Vietnam

My first Banh Mi - traditional Vietnamese baguette! I think you can see how tired we were!
17p or 5,000 VND beer

Later on, my friend who lived directly below me had an infestation of cockroaches and I had the biggest hole behind my wardrobe and kept praying they would never find their way in my room! - They never did thankfully!!!

We had no time to figure out anything as the next minute we were off to have another week of intensive training (this one leaving the hotel at 6.30am and sometimes being back at 10pm). The training was pretty scary for many who had never taught before like myself and doing demo lessons to each other! All we wanted to do was explore our new city and home for the next 6 months! Thankfully after the stressful week and the continuous anxiety of knowing we were teaching the following week, my birthday was coming up and we had it off. Hai Phong would have to wait, time to explore Cat Ba Island.


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