“Jesus Christ on stilts.” — Rob
If you asked any of my friends at home, I think they would tell you that the most exciting part about me living abroad is the idea of them visiting. When I told my friends that I was going to move to Vietnam for work, many reactions included, “That’s amazing, I can’t wait to visit you!” or “I have always wanted to go to Vietnam, now this gives me a reason!” I loved these reactions, but I always thought that they were just going to be empty promises and no one would actually come to visit me because “work is so busy” or, “I can’t get the time off” or, “flights are more expensive than I thought!” — needless to say, my hopes were pretty low. But when my parents visited in January, then I knew that if they could do it, ANYONE COULD. So seriously, friends let’s go!!! Hahahaha just kidding (not really).
I’ve had tons of conversations already with my close friends about trips they are going to make and what dates work best with my schedule. Don’t get me wrong, I love this and I am beyond excited to share this country with some of my closest and dearest friends! But, there’s something about sharing such a great and successful part of my life with people who I am friends with, but are not like, my immediate best friends.
One of my friends from university just came to travel through Vietnam, visit Saigon and see me! I define good, best friends as those kinds of friends who you meet their parents. I (sadly) have not had the opportunity (yet?? hahaha) to meet this friend, my friend Rob, his parents. So with my logic, we aren’t best friends but we are friends. Rob has seen a side of me that actually few people have — the side of me that loves math, is stressed out by math, and puts too much time and effort into math. Did you know we took math together in University? I know, I’m pretty subtle about it…. Hahahaha. Rob and I have a plethora of mutual friends, and by the end of our university math careers together, we had become pretty close. As in, we worked on assignments together, studied together, cried together about exams (okay that one was just me crying and Rob probably watching, and laughed at anything and everything together to make ourselves feel better about math. There are a couple things that you need to know about Rob: his laugh is probably one of the most contagious laughs on the planet, he really tells you it like it is, and is also just one of the funniest people I’ve ever met without trying. Rob loves the show Happy Endings, and if you have not watched it yet, first of all you NEED to and second of all I can’t believe you haven’t watched it. It is freaking hilarious and Rob introduced it to me and for that, he will always hold a near and dear place in my heart.
He has been teaching in Korea for the past year and after finishing his contract, he is travelling and experiencing the different parts of the world around him. I love this because his travel plan is a solid group of countries (Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal) and he doesn’t really have too much a rush to “finish.” To be honest though, do we ever want to have a deadline to finish travelling? I hope not!
Something that I really appreciated about having Rob hang out here for the weekend was that he was just coming from the life of living abroad and having people visit him, so he understood how sometimes it can feel like you have to always entertain the person who has come to visit and that you need to constantly be making sure that the person is enjoying themselves and are comfortable. Even though I literally never felt that pressure or stress to entertain him while he was here, he acknowledged that and told me that I didn’t have to do anything that I didn’t actually want to do just to make him feel like he was having a good time. I think maybe that’s why I felt like there was no pressure because he was just so chill about being here and being able to see the city from my point of view.
Once you live somewhere for awhile, you start to get used to everything around you. The smells in the air, the building around you, the routines of a day, etc. Saigon is A LOT to handle when you first get here, but what was a bit unique about my situation is that everything was a lot to handle for me — I was starting my first job in my career, I was trying to figure out how to rent an apartment in a foreign country, and I was trying to figure out where I could buy a hair straightener. Big, serious situations, I know. But while I was trying to figure out how to LIVE here, I didn’t really realize how insane it was to VISIT here. There are so many things that I just don’t even realize are crazy/insane/different to see because I have seen them everyday for the last 8 months. I’ve become immune to the hustle and bustle of the Saigon life. I hate that.
But, what is really an amazing thing that happened, was that Rob helped me see how wonderful my life is and made me appreciate and feel very grateful for the life I have right now. I had been so stuck in my routine that I forgot to appreciate my amazing job of teaching and learning from the smart little humans in my grade 2 class. I forgot to appreciate how amazing the food is here. I forgot to appreciate how awesome my apartment is and how lucky I am to have a pool and a gym to use for my convenience. I forgot to appreciate the friendships I’ve created here and the awesome people I’ve got to meet, and the helpful strangers out there.
My life is pretty freaking amazing, and I don’t really feel bad saying that. I know that when (if?) I move back to Canada, I’ll never have an apartment as nice as the one I live in now. I know that I will never be able to eat and drink for so cheap. I know that I’ll never be able to get my nails done and get a spa massage every week. I know that. And, it sucks because I love all of those things, but I also realize that I need to appreciate them so much more now so that when I don’t have those things anymore, I won’t be sad I’ll be grateful that I even had the chance to have those opportunities. I know that a lot of this is about material things, but it’s crazy how much that kind of becomes a part of your life when you live somewhere new. Especially because it isn’t just one new aspect of my life changing, it has been every single aspect of my life changing. Heck, I even own a Vietnamese iPhone!
So to sum this up, I am so happy Rob came to visit for 2 reasons — 1) It was such a nice piece of home and nostalgia to have him here and to share what I’m doing in my life right now with someone who really did end up being such a good/big part of my university life. 2) He made me realize that I am so lucky and that I’m on the right path in my life and that I should celebrate that and always remember to keep looking out for the crazy/weird stuff that is going on around me in Saigon.
So here’s to Rob and finding familiar faces in a wild city!