I did it. I finally pulled the plug to my year-long gallivant around Southeast Asia and settled down to teach English (finally).
I moved to Nam Dinh, a big-ish city in Northern Vietnam 5 weeks ago. I chose to move to a town with zero foreign influence to escape temptation, gain perspective, dive into Vietnamese culture, and frankly, save a lot of money. They pay more in small towns to give foreigners an incentive to move there ($25 an hour to be exact), while also providing private rooms for the nine teachers who work here above the English center and two meals a day.
The view from the roof of the English center.
Since moving here, life has been hectic. I work full-time, teaching 5-6 classes a day at 14 different schools throughout the week. I teach more than 1,200 students a week. YES, MORE THAN ONE THOUSAND STUDENTS. Are you shitting me? That does not sound real. But it is. I have done the math almost that many times. I teach 26 classes a week, ages ranging from five to 15 years old, with 40-55 students in each class. That’s a lot of fucking kids. A lot of screaming, sassy, beautiful, intelligent, crazy cute kids.
My job is a lot of work. A lot more work than I realized it would be. Not only do I teach 26 classes, I plan and prepare materials for those 26 classes too. As well as drive all over town multiple times a day to make it to each class on time. I struggled with planning in the beginning. I still get stuck sometimes, especially when it comes to my 9th and 6th grade, 90-minute-long classes. Can you believe I am teaching 15-year-olds? I’m not even 10 years older than them. That’s weird. But also not at all because I love that class and I have a great rapport with them.
I didn’t know if I liked children before this job. I have never been around them. I certainly didn’t know how to entertain them. Sure, I could admire a cute baby and make a funny face here and there, but I was awkward around kids. Well, that all changed very quickly.
I am excited to announce I do indeed love kids! (Thank goodness). Children are so easily entertained, it’s amazing and very entertaining for me. I think I laugh just as much as my students do in class.
Teaching has brought out this silly, funny, light-hearted side of me that I had buried deep below my strong-tough-independent-woman-so-don’t-fuck-with-me exterior that I have worn since being on the road solo for so long. Don’t get me wrong, I am still that same strong-tough-independent-woman-so-don’t-fuck-with-me person, I just also happen to buzz around life as a singing, dancing, crazy, goof-ball now too. And by buzz, I mean literally buzz since I pretend I am a bee when teaching grade 1 the letter ‘B’. Buzzzzz.
I am happy here. No, it’s not all unicorns & rainbows. These 1,000+ adorable children bring me endless joy, but also give me an enormous head and backache from all the running, jumping, squatting/bending down I do all day (but hour-long massages are less than $3, so I can’t really complain) and these bundles of joy they have sucked away all my free-time and social life. But still, I am happy. I wake up at 5:30 every morning, just before the sun, I practice yoga, meditate, teach all day, eat two delicious vegetarian Vietnamese meals made with love by our glorious chef, then I walk/run, plan and write in the evening and am in bed by 9:30 every night with an occasional bubble tea, sugarcane juice or coffee date with myself thrown into the week, deep breathhhhh and REPEAT.
Pho Friday’s!!! ( My favorite meal of the week).
Ohhh and boy do I love the weekends. I will be waist deep in a tub of Vietnamese red wine by time you are reading this (bottles sell for $2.75 at the supermarket. I’ts no 3 buck chuck, but it’ll do). Happy Friday!