Monday, December 1, 2008 0 comments

Dominican Republic, Paying a Visit to Dad

So I spent 11 days, from November 15th until Nov. 26th in Dominican Republic. The main purpose of the trip was to visit my father. Unfortunately, the internet was no where near as abundant as it was in Viet Nam. I was very anxious before I left for the D.R. because the last time that I had visited I was 7 years old (it's been 15 years). I also have mixed feelings about the trip as I was able to do what I set out to do, which was to visit my father, but at the same time it wasn't all fun and games.

By day 2 my dad contracted conjunctivitis (pink eye) from a family member I suppose and by day 4 I had it too. I couldn't go out when it was sunny, so he and I had to wait until the sun went down so that the sun wouldn't aggrevate our condition. Luckily, my condition lasted for 4 days and not the whole trip. Though, it was also very rainy (more so than I had anticipated), I was still able to see a bit. I went to Santiago, Puerto Plata and the capital, Santo Domingo.

In December, hopefully I will be off to Cancun, Mexico for a week. I am very anxious and excited. I anticipate that it will be an interesting experience.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008 0 comments

Life After Viet Nam

I got a bit bored today so I decided to read over some of my blog and was thus struck with inspiration! I should at least write one post on, "life after Viet Nam". For me, life is not so bad! I have a great internship lined up for the next six months with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Philadelphia. I will be doing something with small business development and Latin American trade. Viet Nam now seems like a dream...Sometimes I find myself looking at pictures just to remind myself that it was real and that, no it was not a dream. However, I have found that it is a great conversation starter! haha!

I still keep in contact with my Vietnamese host mom in Can Tho and her family. My 16 year old host sister is taking the high school entrance exam soon so she is studying non stop. Then there is my Vietnamese host sister is Saigon (HCMC). I don't have her email so I will have to get a calling card to call her. She is coming to America soon. She will be here for a month doing some sort of leadership conference with other students from all over South East Asia. I feel sad when I think of her. On the last week of my stay in Viet Nam I found out she has Lupus. She is such a bright girl and so hard working too! I promised her that if she got sick while in the States that I would do all that I could to help her. I just hope it doesn't come to that. I want her to be happy and to enjoy her stay in the States.
Next Spring I will be graduating... It seems like life is just full of one phase after another... It's interesting and amazing, yet at the same time quite scary.
Henry told me the other day (Father's day) that he is tired of telling people that I am his girlfriend and would like it to be his fiancee from now on. I guess he is thinking about THAT. I guess it can't be helped, we have been together for 4 years. However, I am not as impatient as I used to be. Something like that can wait. It won't change how we feel and it shouldn't change how things are (unless it is another positive change).

I think my next target country will be somewhere in Latin America though I really want to go to Korea, Thailand and Japan (to practice my Japanese).
I definitely want to go back to Viet Nam. Hopefully in 2010 if I get a fellowship through Princeton in Asia.
Surprisingly, I have yet to do a road trip of the USA. Maybe this too should be on my list.

To those who are reading this:
Don't be afraid to take a chance, because otherwise how will you know if it was the experience that your life needed? Don't live in regret.
Thursday, May 15, 2008 1 comments

Back Home!

I am back in the states yay! I am really happy but I also feel a little strange. I am pretty much back to doing what I used to do. I am back to my "normal" routine. Yet, things seem so strange! I am currently in Philadelphia as I will probably live her with Henry throughout the summer and if I get this co-op which I REALLY want, I will be here for 6 months. I am pleasantly surprised but kind of scared in terms of how things have changed. My dad is thinking of going back to his country and selling his lands probably next year. My mom actually has a job. My sister got her driver's permit and is taking driving lessons. She is also looking to buy a car. Henry is currently on co-op and actually has become quite serious and kind of old in my eyes. So many things have happened since I have been gone! Apparently, there is a rice shortage? Coming from Viet Nam I have to say that is pure bs. However, there WILL BE a shortage in terms of the market if people freak out and get into a hoarding mentality where then people will buy amounts of rice that they don't need because they THINK there is a food shortage. Funny how the economy works huh? Thankfully eating food has not been a problem. I thought I would get sick or something because I had gotten used to eating Vietnamese food for the past 3 months but then again America is so much cleaner and restaurants have standards here.
I see my parents this weekend. Yes, I have not seen my parents yet but that's because I have a co-op interview in Philly on Friday with the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (gphcc). I am happy to see them but at the same time I don't want to stay there too long. I think I would lose my mind if I stayed there for more than two days. I have gotten used to being away from them and having my freedom. I am 21 years old and I want to continue to do as I please. When I come home what usually happens is that my parents (specifically my mom) are very nice but then after two days my mom tends to lose her cool and things tend to go downhill from there.
I seem to compare a lot of things to Viet Nam; I find this to be very annoying. I am hoping that I am not annoying Henry with it. For the past two days a lot of what I say usually entails the sentence, 'in Vietnam...'.
Life is so much more relaxed here. I mean life in America in general is pretty stressful but when I compare it to the things that I did in Vietnam then it doesn't seem so bad. hmm, let's see how I will be in a few months! However, I must say that since Vietnam I have acquired a level of self confidence and focus that I did not previously posses; It's great! Vietnam has definitely sparked my interest in traveling, to new and 'exotic' places but I have to say that for me, life in America is wonderful.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008 1 comments

Burma Has Been Hit By a Cyclone - 5 Days Till My Return

Yesterday I got in to Saigon from Can Tho City with Jenni. It was pouring when we got in. It was raining so heavily that it didn't look like we were crossing a street, but more like we were trying to cross a river! Apparently, a cyclone hit Burma/Myanmar on Saturday and I did not hear about it until yesterday. Then when I told Jenni she told me she just found out too and that she was worried because her brother was in Burma when it happened. It is now Monday morning and it seems as though just now America is getting word of it. Thankfully when I woke up this morning Jenni sent me a text message telling me that her brother was ok! Thank God! Tomorrow I give my ISP presentation and I have to make sure to get a couple of binded copies of it before May 10! It's 21 pages, about the minimum which is 20 but oh well! I just couldn't write anymore...
I CAN'T BELIEVE I AM GOING BACK! It's been 3 months already?!!
Saturday, May 3, 2008 1 comments

Viet Nam: It is What the Doctor Should have Ordered

"You are a student, why did you spend so much money(10 dollars!)on this hair clip for your mother?"

"Because I can make money at any time but my mother won't be around forever." After saying this which I thought was only natural, I made my homestay grandmother cry (she was so touched).

I think Viet Nam may have made me into a more considerate and kind person. I am finally starting to like the type of person that I am becoming. I suppose three and a half months away from home and being in a foreign country where you learn to speak the language because English simply won't do can do that to a person.

I am so excited to see my parents, my sister, henry and all of my friends!
8 days and 14 hours until my scheduled return to the states!
Monday, April 28, 2008 1 comments

1 Week left in Can Tho City

So one week left... Kind of sad really. I like this city a lot and my host family has been nothing but wonderful to me. I consider myself to be very lucky. I am now working on my ISP paper and I hope it comes out decently! I am having trouble of course but I just want to make sure I get something down first and then I can work on it more and more as my presentation day approaches. May 6 I go back to HCMC with Jenny. May 8 we do our ISP presentations. On the days leading up to our departure to the USA I am not so sure about what we are doing. We are probably going to do some 'wrapping up' and anything else that would entail that. I can't believe than in less than 2 weeks I will be heading back to America. It is such a bitter sweet feeling. I will definitely miss Viet Nam. However, I try not to dwell on my return too much. There was a moment where I thought of seeing my best friend Michelle's face once I got home and I swear I almost ended up crying of happiness. I hope that when I see her I don't end up crying (too embarrassing!). Well I will know when I get to Boston. I can't know how I will react until I am actually there. So my final destination is Boston not New York. Sorry if I confused anyone! This is why I am probably seeing Michelle first. I need to give in some things to the university and the following day my dad will come to help me take my things to NYC. Of course we don't have a car so he will take a bus to help me and then we will each take a suit case, as we will go back to NYC by bus. AHHH such is the life of someone who is low income hahah! But you know what? It doesn't bother me as it used to. Sure I would like to have more money but I know that in the near future if I keep working hard I won't have to worry about not being able to afford certain things. You know I was totally up front with my host family and maybe that's why they like me. I told them that the reason why I have bought so much clothes is well ok three reasons, 1. They are way too expensive in the US (dress shirts, pants and dresses), 2. Therefore, I can't afford to spend money on such things when there are things that are more important 3. I can find clothes that fit me easily here(I am considered a Large here and my shoe size is the biggest size that they have but that's fine with me!)
I think I lost weight while I was here. My pants seem to fit more loosely now. Well, I wouldn't be surprised if I lost weight, the diet here is so healthy and I tend to ride my bicycle almost everyday here.
Coming here to VIETNAM not Japan AT THIS TIME I believe was the best decision that I have made so far. It was the best place to go given what I am studying and in addition, the amount of money that I had available for expenditures. In addition, I think we have all learned many valuable lessons while being here. I have learned things about myself that I am not sure that I would have otherwise. I am more patient and I have gained a greater appreciation for all the people that are so dear and special to me (friends and family!) I think Henry has learned a lesson too *wink* I think he's learned how lucky he is to have me as his girlfriend! I guess that saying is true, you just don't know what you have until you don't have it anymore.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008 0 comments

The Lack of Environmental and Sanitary Awareness is Scary!

At the Floating Market Eating a Pineapple Boat Operator
My Khanh Alligator Pond
Can Tho City Bridge

There is a story behind this bridge and it is actually quite sad. Last year the Japanese provided funds for the building of a bridge in Can Tho. Instead of overseeing the project themselves they let the Vietnamese take care of it (first mistake). Therefore, the contractor who oversaw the project was Vietnamese (not to say Vietnamese contractors are bad). However, it is well known in Vietnam that when it comes to bridges and any infrastructure made by a Vietnamese it is generally ill/poorly made because of their lack of either, education or technological expertise (though it is usually this one) (2nd mistake). The result of these mistakes was: the bridge collapsing and killing around 50 people. The Japanese prime minister had to come to ask for forgiveness and now the Japanese are rebuilding the bridge, and they are NOT (believe me) committing the same mistakes twice!

On to today's Post!

Today I woke up at 5:15 am to go to the floating market. Tho picked me up at 5:30 am. When I got to the floating market I interviewed two sellers, a couple who lived on a boat (and who sold pineapples), and our very friendly boat operator. I think that I got a lot of interesting data today. For example, did you know that the people on the boats use the river water for domestic affairs ranging from washing their clothes to brushing their teeth?! The man that we talked to on the boat told us that he got sick and that it wasn’t until he went to the doctor that he began to boil his water before he drank it…. Though, I am not sure if that is sufficient (the boiling). When I talked to our boat operator I found out that he washes his boat with river water (where then the soap and dirt go into the river, but I didn’t tell him that). While on our way back his engine made some strange noise and I asked him what was wrong. He said that it was nothing it was just some GARBAGE that was caught by the engine. He said that ONCE A WEEK he has to remove garbage from his boat's engine. I don’t think that he realized how valuable his information was for my ISP but I am sure glad that he was willing to be interviewed about his job. In addition, we went to My Khanh garden. It is a man made garden and the place resembles a little cottage like getaway. I found out that most of the tourists are Vietnamese and that foreigners don’t like to go there because it is not “natural enough”. In a way I also felt this place was a bit…barbaric? They had something called “alligator fishing”. They have a pond full of alligators and the person can “fish” for an alligator. After that guess what happens? The alligator becomes a purse or a belt! When asked about the environment they said that they try to "help out" by BURNING their garbage. If I recall correctly burning garbage is not something one wants to do if it's just done with an incinerator because one isn't using heat energy to make electricity or steam rather, one is simply getting rid of the garbage and releasing harmful things! Oh well, a point that should be made is that, people need to be educated more on these sort of things (environmental and sanitary). Above are some pictures of today’s trip!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008 0 comments

As Expected, There is a Light at the End of This Tunnel

I knew that if I just kept my cool that everything would be alright. So today I met with my advisor and two of her assistants. Well one is her research assistant, Loc (27) and the other is a recent graduate (undergrad), To (22). We sat down and worked on my questionnaire a bit and then wrote down a tentative plan for this week. It is still a work in progress but things seem to be looking up. I definitely have more data after just today. Today we went to Phu Sa (an island), we interviewed someone there as well as at the travel company Vietravel (Can Tho branch office). Later at 4pm we will interview someone at Saigon Cantho Tourist. It should be interesting as they are a state owned tourist agency. I must say that the distinction between the private agencies and the government agencies must be made as the differences between them seem to be great. Tomorrow I leave at 5:30 am for one of the “floating markets’. I will talk to a rower and probably some of the vendors (along with me buying fruit). Then we will go to My Khanh village fruit garden and probably talk to some tour operators and maybe a manager if it is possible.
“My assistants” are quite friendly, helpful and nice. However, I think both of them may have crushes on me! Now don’t get me wrong, I am NOT conceited or think of myself like that. However, I KNOW when a guy is hitting on me even if its subtle. To kept mentioning how I looked so beautiful with Non La (Vietnamese conical hat). When I asked Loc about what he does for fun, he just sounded like a workaholic. So I asked him why he doesn’t go out with friends or something like that. He said it would be nice to take a girlfriend to ice cream. I said well why don’t you do that? Well he has no girlfriend….and he then goes and says, 'I didn’t get your phone number. I need it so I can call you if we go out'. HAHHAA!! Why am I even discussing this? Maybe I found it cute and amusing…I don’t know. Oh the hearts of young Vietnamese men! Here are some pictures of today’s research!

I met with the director of Saigon/Cantho tourist and first of all HEARTHROB! HAHA Maybe for once I am being a total girl! In addition he spoke very good English and so I didn't need my assistants to translate for me. Overall, it was a pleasant and I believe very helpful interview.
Monday, April 21, 2008 0 comments

Isn't Field Research Always Like This?

Deep down I know I want to freak out but I will NOT do so. So the people that I was originally counting on to help me were either the wrong people or, they are just extremely busy but are STILL the wrong people to talk to. However, I have met many people that are willing to help me and I believe that I may have found a couple of people who may be the "right" people to talk to. Today I finally met with my ISP advisor. Her name is Truong Thi Nga and she is a professor at the environmental studies dept. Her English is very good (thank God!!!).
Talking to her kind of gave me an idea of where I stand and I may be "screwed" by some people's standards as I only have 20 days left! However, I don't think it's so bad since I just have to figure out how I will react to my circumstances and what action it is that I will take. In the end it seems like the approach I am taking will now be different. I will not talk to travel companies and the tourism dept. but rather tourists and tour guides. It all goes back to "sustainable tourism" in Can Tho just a different perspective and approach. I am sure when this is all over it will all be okay. I just have to keep trying my best to be positive! I just need to write 20 pages (minimum), I can do that! My topic will be interesting and I WILL learn something!! Just through this experience I am learning of how realistic certain research projects can be given the time frame and budget that one has and how research in other countries (or at least Viet Nam) works out. So I am learning SOMETHING. I can't say that this has all been done in vain, otherwise I would be lying to myself. I hope that I am becoming a better person and that it is not the heat that is getting to me. I don't want to think that I am just more laid back because I am too hot!
Saturday, April 19, 2008 0 comments

A Week in Can Tho Already?!!

I get to live!! Can Tho is simply awesome. I mean there is virtually no night life here but that's ok as I have never been much of a nightlife kind of person. I have been working on my research but have only been ale to get 2 out of 7 interviews. So far what I gathered is that tourism in Can Tho is a failure and sustainability is the last (if it all) thought/worry on the Vietnamese's minds. The days seem to go speeding by now as the deadline for my ISP is approaching! I just gave in my final project yesterday night...thank goodness (one less thing to worry about)! I am enjoying every day that I am with my Vietnamese host family and I know that I will greatly miss them when I go back to the USA. I haven't been using my Vietnamese as much as I should but I realize it is not necessary at this point. However, I don't want to forget what I have learned. The Vietnamese people are so kind and generous (hugs them to me). If I had to live in Viet Nam it would definitely be in Can Tho City (though the sun is sooo hot and when it rains it's pretty heavy esp. during wet season hahaha).
Yesterday I went out with Jenny and our friend Thao. We ate dinner and I made some new friends. I got really excited when I heard someone speaking Spanish so I HAD TO talk to them. Two of the men were from Brazil and one was from Argentina. They are actually playing for the Can Tho Soccer club. I didn't know Viet Nam had money to spend on foreign players! Though apparently, they do! The players were telling me about their lives back home and how by coming to Viet Nam they had a better chance at life. The Argentinian told me that life in Argentina is very hard right now and that the price of food is increasing to the point where it is becoming difficult to buy food... Wow there is so much to learn from others!
Monday, April 14, 2008 1 comments

A Birthday Party, A Cancelled Appt. and a New Hobby

Thao, My Host Sister
Jenni, My Host Mom and I
Jenni and I

On Sunday my host mom, along with my sister celebrated my birthday (belated) as well as Jenny's. It was a very nice gesture on their part and I can say that Jenny and I both had a lot of fun. Monday I had an appointment with the vice president of a private tourism company. He is a French man who married a Vietnamese woman. They both opened this company together. He canceled on me because of some conflict but now I am meeting him today. Hopefully I will get some "useful" information out of him that will aid me in writing my ISP! Besides this I seem to have picked up a new hobby, kite flying. I seem to do it everyday. I have to ride my bike to the park near the river which is about a 15 minute bike ride which is not too bad. The difficulty of my trip is always going over this bridge that allows me to go there. The bike riding finally took its toll and this morning I am so exhausted! In addition, this may seem random but, I don't think I am digesting my food very well. I don't know why, but recently I haven't been able to eat breakfast which I always do since I have been here...

I know in the end things will work out with my ISP but I can't help but feel some anxiety because of it. Everyday is getting hotter and hotter and I broke out in a rash because of it. So even though I know things will work out today my mood is not as good as I would like it to be. I am grouchy, tired and uncomfortable but I am doing my best to not lose my temper at people who don't deserve it. I just say forget it and walk away. I have to control my temper today. Less than a month left till I go home! (I am so excited!)
Saturday, April 12, 2008 0 comments

Forms and Preparation

Yesterday was a very productive day. I met with Tam, one of my contacts. I also met with Angela Thao another of my contacts. I had dinner with her while I interviewed her concerning tourism in Can Tho.

Today I sent Tam my interview questionaire for the department of tourism. There are 3 sections within the department of tourism that I would like to look into and would like to interview if Tam can get me an appt. with a person in each respective department. I also sent Co Thanh my IRB form and ISP site form (all part of the protocol).

Later today I am going kite flying with my host mom and after that (at 6pm) I will go to Jenny's Host Mom's house to help Vietnamese students with their English (service learning as Co Thanh would say!). Things seem to be going alright for now. I am still a bit anxious about all of this (the interviews and the writing of my ISP). Let's hope this feeling will dissipate and that it will be filled with confidence by the end of the week!

P.S. This post was posted by Henry. Thank you! =D
Tuesday, April 8, 2008 0 comments

The Muong Village, Ha Long Bay and ISP begins tomorrow!

Ha Long Bay in the evening
Our group's ship
Me with my Ao Dai and Co Thanh, our academic director
Some of the group in Ha Long Bay
Down the Muong road on my birthday
Muong Home

Where do I begin? To think that tomorrow ISP begins is mind blowing! Last Wednesday my group and I went to Cuc Phuong National park. I didn't see the park but I still got some beautiful pictures that gave me an idea of what I missed thanks to my friend Quan. After that we went to a Muong village. Some info on them:

They are most closely related to the ethnic Vietnamese. While the Muong are believed to be related to the Vietnamese, some ethnologists theorize the Muong remained in the mountains and developed independently while the Vietnamese moved to the low country and became influenced by Chinese culture resulting from the 111 BC invasion by Chinese Han Emperor Wu Ti. The Muong and the Tai have had a mutual influence on each other’s culture. So, today the Muong are ethnically close to the Vietnamese, but culturally and socially similar to the Tai.

We stayed the night at the Muong Village and had some "cultural exchange". We danced, we ate, and sang both Vietnamese and American songs. It was a very nice experience. However, I was sad because that day was the 3rd- my birthday and I couldn't get any signal. Therefore, my parents and the rest of my family members were unable to contact me. Yet things got better and quickly! After this we went to Ha Long bay which is being nominated as one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. It was truly breathtaking and just so surreal. Sleeping on the ship was such a welcomed change. We all got to relax and to take things in for once. Our program is pretty intense because have a lot of readings and work but we also travel often (it is so exhausting). On April 5 (our first out of 2 day and one night stay) we had a party that night to celebrate 3 girls birthdays ( I was one of them). This moment will forever be in my memory. I think I bonded even more (if it is possible) with some of my classmates which I had become fairly close to (such as Jo, Wen, Von and Hai Minh).

Today is the last day for five of us in Hanoi. Since our ISP period begins tomorrow, five of us are off to our respective ISP sites. There are some others that won't be conducting their research in Hanoi but they decided to stay in Ha Noi a little longer (for various reasons). The only people going to Can Tho are Jenny C. and I. Tomorrow we fly back to HCMC in the morning but the following day we will take a 4 1/2 to 5 hour bus ride to Can Tho City. Jenny is doing something with shrimp/rice farming I believe, while I am looking at sustainable tourism from a Vietnamese perspective during the initiative known as "National tourism year 2008".

*I may post my proposal later on in the week.
Posted are pictures of the Moung Village and Ha Long Bay.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008 1 comments

Busy Day in Ha Noi /Plans Plans Plans!

So right now I am in planning and organization mode. I have just registered for Fall classes in case I don't get a coop, though I must say that right now a coop does look promising, and I am hoping that it works out! If I get this internship, I can intern at the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GPHCC)! It is a company that through marketing promotions is able to aid hispanic owners of small companies and large corporations to network while enabling the opening of job opportunities among the companies. They also help with policies affecting hispanic businessmen(women) and they also focus on developing and empowering the hispanic communities within Philadelphia. They asked me to send my resume after I had (what I believe) an awesome conversation with the woman who is in charge of small business development. This is such a great opportunity. I hope the door doesn't close on my foot but rather that it will open more and more with each passing day.

I also have to contact more people for my ISP. Among one of the people that I have to contact is a man by the name of Tam who has connections/knows people at the Can Tho tourism department. However, I really want to talk to the people who work at the subdivision known as the works company because I think that they will be very important sources to my research.

Today we went to the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and it was depressing. I don't want to do that ever again if I can. I just felt it was so wrong to have him on display like that, when on his will he wrote that he wanted to be cremated, and that he wanted his ashes to be spread across the river and the mountains. We also went to the Presidential Palace. We got to learn more about Ho Chi Minh's life and it seems like he was a very simplistic, compassionate and intellectual person. Apparently he knew 8 languages and had friends from many different countries! Then we went to the Ethnology museum to learn more about the different ethnic minorities in Viet Nam. I found a book in Spanish. I think my dad will like this book because it focuses on "memories of war" and deals with history.

In addition, we also went to watch a water puppet show. You must see it! I recommend this activity to all and anyone who goes to Ha Noi, Viet Nam.

Tomorrow we are off to a Moung village (ethnic minority). We will sleep over at their communal house most likely.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008 1 comments

Cafe and Appearances

I went to see my host family from ho chi minh city for dinner today. It was really nice. I then went with my former host sister Anh to drink some milk shakes at a local "upscale coffee shop" where we proceeded to drink fruit shakes. After that I came back to the hotel where Hai Minh and I are roomies. We conversed on the importance on appearance in the work place and just in general. Knowing that I will turn 21 soon is a big wake up call. So now I am putting more effort into the way I look and today I put on my contacts and some make up (with help from Hai Minh). I think I look very different but it's a welcomed change as people seem to think I look better! Take a look!
Sunday, March 23, 2008 0 comments

The Cu Chi Tunnels, Vung Tao..I ate a Snail and I Seriously Didn't Like it!

On Friday I went to visit the Cu Chi tunnels. It is amazing what war can do to people... The introductory video that we watched was anything but pleasant and one could really see the hatred that the Vietnamese following the initial end of the war held for those 'savage' Americans. In addition, we saw traps that the Cu Chi people set up to "capture" and to kill the Americans-I felt a little uneasy after that.I also went into one of the tunnels, it was pretty dark and a very intense experience. I did it fine (I was surprised too) but someone behind me started freaking out and so we all tried to hurry out of the tunnel so that the person could get out.

Today I went to Vung Tao (the beach!) and it was really fun. I went with Vi's family, Co Thanh's son (the academic director's) and with Thuy (her picture is here-it is one of the earlier ones). I have been working on my ISP proposal as the first draft is due tomorrow (Monday). I am glad that I got to take a break from working/studying. I ate a snail and it was very disgusting...After a couple of bites I seriously didn't know what to do. They didn't want me to throw it away so I put the whole thing in my mouth and it took me about 10 minutes to chew it to a point where I would be ok with swallowing it. In order to help my discomfort at having a snail in my mouth I ate A LOT of spicy sauce/chilly, ginger and some leaves (don't know what type). At least now I can say, ' I ate a snail and I didn't like it'.

After this week we are off to the capital, Hanoi! It should be interesting given that a lot of people in the South don't seem to think well of the Northerners. For example some people have told me to beware of the Northerners because they are not honest and straightforward people like they are (the southerners, especially in the Mekong).
Wednesday, March 19, 2008 0 comments

We are Dropping Like Flies

Since we have been back from our central excursion more and more people in our group seem to be getting sick. I was sick today (just felt really weak and nauseous) and after lunch slept for a good chunk of the afternoon. Unfortunately, some people in my group haven't been as fortunate as being able to sleep off whatever it is that they currently have. Our illnesses range from cold, mild upset stomachs, to food poisoning and dengue fever. I am especially worried about the boy with dengue because his heart rate has been low and he hasn't been able to eat anything... I can only pray he gets better and that there aren't any complications, such as internal bleeding. This is all a part of the experience abroad, especially in a developing country (some risk is involved). I never realized how clean we Americans are! In America we have so many health standards and things are just generally more sanitary- we complain that we are still lacking in this and that... but really, we have it pretty good!

I now have established three contacts for my ISP, one of them being my ISP advisor. I also have my homestay family's support and will be staying with them while I do my research in Can Tho. I still haven't come up with a focus for my ISP; I have my overall topic but I haven't found exactly what I will be answering. I think that as I talk to more people, especially people who are more familiar with this topic than I am that I will be able to find exactly what I need. In the meantime I am working on my final project and on the parts of my ISP proposal that I am able to at this time.
Monday, March 17, 2008 0 comments

Why does it always come back to Japanese?

I should go to bed right now... for some reason I just felt like posting because I can. I really miss learning Japanese. I really want to keep learning it when I come back. Vietnamese is interesting to learn and is another language that I can add to my list however, I love the way Japanese sounds! I can't help it...sometimes I want to find a word to say in Vietnamese but when I don't know it the word will pop up in Japanese if I happen to know or remember it. At this point I can say my Vietnamese is beating my Japanese (I am sad about this). I want to see Japan so badly and to watch Gackt in one of his concerts (is a dream of mine), but I think that by the end of the program my thoughts may be more focused on coming home. Who knows? Maybe I will get the travel bug after coming back and may work towards traveling to another country.
Sunday, March 16, 2008 0 comments

Back to Saigon For Two Weeks

Yesterday the group and I took a flight out from Hue back to Saigon. A lot will be happening these two weeks that I will be here. I have my final exam, my final Vietnamese exam and I need to write my ISP proposal properly so the paperwork necessary can be done for me to do research in Can Tho. However, I changed my topic again! I don't think that I will change it though. The idea of doing this topic is very exciting. I am thinking about researching how sustainable tourism is in Can Tho or something to that effect. You know, Can Tho is promoting tourism more than ever, especially this year. During our excursion to Central Vietnam we spoke to an SIT alum by the name of Lucas Thornblade. He gave us some advice on conducting our field research and told us about his experiences concerning his own ISP. After talking with him (and later Hai Minh) I realized that I should do an ISP for ME and not anyone else. My ISP should be something that I care about and will enjoy learning about and it's not as though I wouldn't enjoy learning about the previous two topics but honestly, I only have a month to do this! I shouldn't be taking on anything too grand because this is a research paper that will only scratch the surface.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008 1 comments

The Old Capital: Hue City

I am currently in the old capital of Hue where the last Vietnamese dynasty, the Nguyen dynasty ruled. Today we saw the most famous pagoda in Hue which was built by the king. It was said that the king had 500 wives and hundreds of children. We also saw a pagoda dedicated to the king and queen, as well as where a famous monk who burned himself to protest against the Party was buried.

The pic above is a pic of Hai Minh (classmate) and I =)
(Click on the pictures to make them bigger!)
Tuesday, March 11, 2008 0 comments

The Village of Hope- Da Nang Viet Nam

From their website: "The Village of Hope Children's Center, established by East Meets West in 1993, serves orphaned, at-risk and deaf children in Central Vietnam. East Meets West initially funded the construction of the Village with a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). A wide range of activities are made available to all of the children, including: athletics, music, dance, art, theater training, and English as a second language instruction."

You know, I went here today and it hit me...I want to help these children. I am thinking about putting together a video concerning my visit there and would like to put it up on youtube in the near future. Right now they are not doing very well in terms of funding and even so, the NGO does not want to close it down- because it honestly works well. If one were to see all the things that the children here are learning and in how many ways they are benefiting from being in this village one would be astounded. The artwork, paintings, sculptures and and embroideries made by these children is top notch. A couple of students from the SIT program and myself are thinking that maybe we can bring some of their work to the U.S. in order to sell it in our campuses, in this way we could help funraise. You know, it only takes 650 dollars a year, not a month, but a year to support one child? Even if all I can do is raise enough money to help one child I still believe it's worth it. I'm going to email my school and keep in touch with the project coordinator here in Viet Nam and will try to find out how feasible this is and when it could be done. However, for now my group and I will just go to Metro (a huge international supermarket) to buy the children some much desired snacks!
Friday, March 7, 2008 1 comments

"Today You Are Students, In the future you may come back as Investors!"

Today we went to an Industrial Zone 20 km from HCMC. The title of this post is exactly what someone who is part of management there said to us. I am posting pictures of one of the manufacturing factories that we got to see (they make hearing aids). The majority of people working there are women (because they are believed to have more patience than men; better for this type of work). I am posting pics!


So the more I've thought about it the more I realize that the Floating Market is not a good choice given the amount of time that I have (one month). However, I do think I have a better idea for my ISP now. I will use what I used for my development paper. First of all, I didn't have enough time to write this paper the way that I wanted (even Co Thanh my academic director agrees). It will be a good paper but it won't go in depth when it comes to issues that I am interested in. She said that I shouldn't be too ambitious with this paper so the way I took it was that yeah maybe she's right for THIS paper but not if I use this topic as my ISP. Now hear me out: I am thinking that I can conduct my research in My Khanh village in Can Tho and I can narrow it down to a specific hamlet. I will collect data from probably 15 families 5 who don't have the VACB model, those who do and those who just have VAC but not B. I will compare the savings and increases in income that are a result of the model in relation to how families who don't have it are doing (to prove my point of how this is a cost efficient approach to reduction of poverty and rural development). I will also talk to NGO's such as the Farmer's association and will try to find out more information on Economic policies that the government may have passed/enforced to aid the farmers with this system. Sound good? Tell me what you think!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008 0 comments

V.A.C.B. Model - work work work!

I am in a pretty good mood in general and right now I am in “work mode”. I have been working on the development paper that is due this Friday and I believe it is coming along nicely (this almost always is a good thing); currently I have about 2 out of 6 pages. I need to figure out what my two primary sources for it will be but I am thinking about this as I type. I am writing about the implementation of the V.A.C.B. model in My Khanh village and how it is and I quote from my paper’s title, “A Cost Efficient Approach to Poverty and Rural Development” (since I am looking at it more through an economic perspective). Later on in the week I will post it on my blog so that all of you may read it in order to learn more about a new technology that is utilized in the agricultural sector in order to help alleviate the great economic disparity in Viet Nam and ecological issues caused by the rapid growth rate in Viet Nam. In terms of my Vietnamese language test (which is Thursday) I will try to study when I can but the issue will be trying to find a balance between studying for it and finishing the writing of my paper. Tomorrow I also have due an assignment for my Field Study Seminar; a lot of academic work this week!

Note: This was written yesterday night but I fell ill a little bit (maybe it was the shrimp). Anyway, for the most part this is all still true.

Monday, March 3, 2008 0 comments

I Finally Met Vi's Parents!

So on Friday I finally got to meet Vi's parents! They are so kind and one can easily tell what loving parents they are. I went to her house and they told me to see her room but what happened when I got there (to her room) was so odd. I saw her room and I just wanted to cry. I left her room and just started crying! I think this may have to do with a number of things however, I think it mainly had to do with two things. Firstly, I finally understand what she has been going/gone through. It is so difficult to be away from the ones that one loves, ESPECIALLY when something goes wrong or one is missing out on something very important because one has decided to go to study abroad. I just remembered how she was when she found out her grandfather died and she was in the States with me and couldn't get back home for the funeral because she would be risking losing her visa and potentially not being able to come back to NEU. The second reason was that I kept thinking of how awesome it would be if she would be able to come here without problems to celebrate the Tet holiday with her parents and to spend time with me in her country (which she loves).

I have been told that I am a passionate person, though sometimes I wonder what that truly means.... Does it mean that I cry easily? Does it mean that I get angry easily? Does it mean that I can't hold back? Are these things negative or are they in retrospect things that if they are indeed true should not be a problem because really...isn't this a part of who I am? I don't think that I can change these things...nor do I really want to. I love my friends and family and no matter how far away I am these things will not change.
I have sent an email to professor Ammerel to ask for information concerning SEASI and the FLAS scholarship. Hopefully I will hear from him soon. On Thursday I have my second Vietnamese language test. On the first one I got an 82 which is not bad but I need to get that up! Though if one looked at my exam you would wonder how someone who has studied Vietnamese for a month well...2 weeks at the time could pull that grade off! Now after one month I can say I am even more serious and eager to learn more!
By the way here are some pics of me and Vi's brother and Anh and me!
Thursday, February 28, 2008 0 comments

My Vietnamese is Improving and I Have Vietnamese Friends!

I can now say that I can "get around" the city! I can order food, introduce myself and can even ask some questions (no matter how simple they may be). After a month things are starting to "click" more and this makes me very happy. In the meantime I am making and maintaining new contacts/friends/resources and am trying to work towards my ISP and my future academic endeavors. At least, I am even more focused than before (to be honest I was losing some steam). I lost one of my batteries for my digi cam (they are rechargeable AA) this is one of the biggest reasons why I haven't posted pictures, but hopefully soon you will all get to see who I am meeting, where I am going and how I am doing!
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 0 comments

Graduate School...

So I am wondering what I should do after college; work and save and then go to grad school or just go directly to grad school and hope that I can get some sort of scholarship/fellowship... Today we got to speak with a professor at Ohio State who told us about some of the grad programs that are being offered there such as in south east asian studies, international development studies and communication and development; these all sounded very appealing to me and I am beginning to think that these could be potential options for me. He also told us about SEASI which is I believe the south east asian studies institute.... where one can go to study any south east asian language over the summer and could qualify to earn a FLAS scholarship to do it. I believe that I will come to a conclusion as to what to do with a little more time...
Monday, February 25, 2008 0 comments

The Pressure and Stress Comes to a Boiling Point

So I went to the opera house in Saigon. It is very well known due to the fact that it was built by the French, therefore having their influence when it comes to architecture. I feel that so far my English since I have been here is actually worsening. The Vietnamese language’s structure is so simple in relation to English that I now understand why they would have trouble/issues with English. In general from what I have gathered from studying Japanese and Vietnamese is that their structures are very simple and very different from what we Americans or the English are accustomed to. I miss home as always but I don’t think that this feeling will really fade, not that I expect it to. Though I always miss home and the many things that I took for granted for so long, I don’t cry anymore since that first time. I am kind of angry right now and I know that I shouldn’t be but it seems like little things are adding up and getting the best of me. I don’t scream no- and I don’t make a scene but people can tell when I am upset/sad anything the like…because my demeanor changes quite drastically; I wish this wasn’t so but this is who I am. I am trying to adapt to this environment that I currently find myself in and have been for the past month but there are just times that I get so annoyed! For example I know how RIDICULOUSLY thin people are here but I don’t appreciate people telling me that I am “a LITTLE too fat for that dress”, excuse me I BROUGHT this dress with me! How am I a little too fat for my dress? All I eat is tofu and veggies anyway (because I don’t trust the meat or especially the seafood to be fully cooked or sanitary most of the time), don’t know how that’s going to make me any “fatter”. Today when I got back from the opera it was 10:30pm and I wanted to go to the internet café near the house that is currently my homestay in Saigon. However, I was told that it was too late and so I didn’t go; now this shouldn’t anger me but I don’t know- I just felt really upset. I was also told that it’s really expensive but expensive here is like 2 dollars for a glass of coffee, and given what the café looks like I wouldn’t mind paying; it’s very clean and “modern looking” (it doesn’t look rundown and I would actually feel comfortable there).

By the way, I tried riding the bus today to get to and from school- it was to say the least, an experience. In the morning riding the bus wasn’t so bad, however in the afternoon it was hell. First of all, the way that the buses are built is quite a hazard and kind of dangerous with all the people that they try to cram in there. Secondly, when you get on and off the bus, the bus tends to start moving even if you haven’t gotten on, so if you are not fast enough you have to run and literally jump on (don’t try this please). Lastly, on my ride home the bus kept making abrupt stops thus making all the people within the bus to propel forward and so I hit a chair and that’s when I decided that was the last time I was taking the bus. However, I live kind of far from dai hoc kinh te (university of economics) and so getting a taxi everyday would add up. I feel kind of bad because now my host sister’s aunt is taking me by motorbike (VERY popular mode of transportation) to school (though I am paying her). Here I don’t feel comfortable enough and don’t feel that I will be able to ask the things that I did in Can Tho…o well, experiences are all worth living through right?

I am not in NYC, I am in Saigon Viet Nam; I just need to accept this and more so that I am living with a family that is nice but doesn’t speak much Vietnamese like my last homestay in Can Tho. I LOVED Can Tho and honestly if I am going to be in Viet Nam let it be there. I can’t wait to come back in April to do my research there and to be able to spend time with Trang, Thao and Tinay again….


I was given an assignment today a sort of midterm paper which should be between 6 to 10 pages in length and I have 2 weeks to write it (I am not looking forward to it). I don’t like that this paper that I am to write is so open ended, it’s like ‘hey you can write about whatever you want as long as it has to do with development’ and I’m like…’wait what…?’ The worse part is that whenever I ask questions my classmates make me feel like an idiot and if I ask them to explain again (because they really aren’t any clearer or helpful most of the time) , they always tend to give me a look or they say…wait how do you not understand?’ Well, excuse me for not being able to understand the professor(s) (most of the time) who has/have a VERY thick Vietnamese accent when speaking their English so much so that I can’t possibly understand them when they are talking about soil erosion and alluvial soil in Mekong delta (which I thought they had said aluminum)!

The Vietnamese language class is beyond a crash course- it’s pretty intense. I seriously feel like passing out after every class ( 3 hours everyday- mon-fri in the mornings). Sample of what I can say off the top of my head (kind odd looking to me without the accents…)

Toi ten la Emmania. Toi hoc dai hoc kin te tan pho ho chi minh. Toi hai muoi tuoi. Toi hoc tieng viet. Toi tich kem yua. Buoi sang toi an sang. Toi tich an oplah ban mi. Toi tich nau an.

I am Emmania. I study at the National University of Economics in ho chi minh city. I am 20 years old. I study Vietnamese. I like coconut ice cream. In the morning I eat breakfast. I like to eat eggs with bread. I like to cook.

That’s about it for now…

Saturday, February 23, 2008 1 comments

Tram Chim National Park and My ISP

Right now I am sitting in front of a building on the stoop trying to update my blog so I will make this short before someone decides to steal my laptop! I am going back to Can Tho during April (time of my ISP) to do my ISP on the Floating Market. It will probably deal with ecotourism/economics. Before we got back we were in Tram Chim National Park, very beautiful but too many brown hoppers (they are bad for the rice fields...). Here are some pics of me in Tram Chim and a hanging toilet, which is not good for the environment specifically the water because essential all the human waste goes into the water and is fairly often eaten by the fish...
Sunday, February 17, 2008 1 comments

I am still in Can Tho

at least until this Friday. The people here are very friendly and inviting. My two host sisters are great. The oldest who is 15 is a doll and the little 2 yr old is so precious!

she calls me "chi my," which in Vietnamese means older American sister, because she can't say my name. Today, after the little one dropped me off at the university with her mom, she cried and I was told by her mom that she told her to pick me up.

I came home and she (the little one) said to me "chi di tam" which means sister go take a shower.
I thought it was so cute! I'm so sad that I have to leave this family. I am starting to become familiar with them and the city, however I must move on to the next place usual. I really am not liking how this program is being run. I enjoy the things that we do but moving around so much, at least for me, is very bothersome.

This Thursday we are to go to the national park. We are going to stay the night there camping. Earlier (last week) my director had asked if I am OK with going, but now I am not so sure. I want some down time, but most of all I want to spend more time with my host family!

Today I went to church with my host mom. She is Catholic. It is interesting to see how things are so similar, it's just in a different language. All I understood was the phrase "lay chua" which means praise God, but even so I didn't feel odd. I felt at ease and I enjoyed taking part in this.

I think Viet Nam isn't so bad. I still miss my friends, bf and family but I am not so scared anymore...

I am having some difficulties when it comes to my Independent Study Project topic, however I am sure things will work out. I am trying to be more positive and stronger now. I must live in the here and now. It just like the Khmer (Cambodian but is an ethnic minority in Viet Nam) Buddhist monk said, "there is no way to happiness, happiness is the way."

btw I want to thank Henry who posted this for me!
(updated pictures of my new hairstyle, the Khmer monk and some members of my host family!)
Wednesday, February 13, 2008 0 comments

The Ties that Bind Us

So apparently not all was taken care of for when I left for Viet Nam. I worked hard to make sure things that I couldn't pay for before I left could be paid for electronically. I called sprint to make sure that I was on a vacation plan however as ALWAYS they messed up; now they are charging me 122 dollars for a plan that I am not using. The most that I can do from here right now is to email them and hope that I can fix it though I am not in the states. I don't want my dad to deal with this...he shouldn't have to and he doesn't need to pay a dime to these crooks! So right now it's midnight and I should sleep but I rarely get to go online; I needed to check my email, any remaining bills (citibank and stupid sprint), but also I wanted to start looking more into my ISP (independent research project). Anyway tomorrow we are going to visit a center that houses (i think) and helps disadvantaged children. My group and I will bring some necessaries things (toothpaste, toothbrushes) and some not so necessary things (like toys and candy) to them. I hope I don't cry... I really can't believe that so many children are in such a predicament...
Monday, February 11, 2008 1 comments

Da Lat, The Pagoda and Lang Bian Mountains

At the Top of one of the Peaks of the Mountain

Some of the Group During a Rest, Playin Hacky Sack with Two Lat Teenagers

Da Lat at Night

The Pagoda

Vietnamese students and I at a Carnival in Da Lat

So I went to Da Lat for 4 days. I stayed with a homestay family and two of the people in my group were also in this homestay with me; Duncan and Wen. The people that we stayed with were so kind! I will truly never forget them. The family consisted of father, mother and two daughters-also the girls aunt who turned sixty three on the first day of the lunar new year. They were flower farmers and had beautiful flowers. Da Lat is a beautiful "resort town" with a lot of french architecture. We also went to one of the most famous Pagodas in Viet Nam and met the Master. It is a truly peaceful looking place. We also hiked the Lang Bian mountains, boy was that difficult. They had said we were going "trekking" but I think this term was quite misleading considering what we had to endure and how steep the mountain was! I fell 4 times by the way, so I wasn't feeling so great. Then after the mountains (on the same day) we walked to the Lat village (they are a minority group in the central highlands of Vietnam. The music, dancing and drinking was awesome...the sleeping in the communal house wasn't so much-but that's okay! Tomorrow (Tuesday) we are off to Mekong Delta and we will stay there for 11 days. I am still debating whether or not I want to take my laptop with me ( I probably won't). While in Mekong Delta we will stay with homestay families and will bike ride to the university.

Boy, this program has a lot more rigorous physical activity than I had ever anticipated... I am not only pushing my comfort zone waaay over its limit but also my body. These experiences are definitely giving me a new perspective on a lot of things that I used to take for granted. Though sometimes I want to give up, I just keep reminding myself of why I came here and of the people I would be letting down if I gave up. I can now say that I can introduce myself in Vietnamese like saying what I study, my name, where I go to school and my age (not bad huh?)
Wednesday, February 6, 2008 2 comments

Call Me!

Llamenme! 011 84 955274578. Call me here! Henry, Kesia, Mom and all who I hold dear and would like to call me please do; that's my cell. Right now I am in the Central Highlands in Da Lat. Porque es que mama no me llama? Yo le di mi numero y no me ah llamado! Tampoco Henry. Kesia si estas leyendo esto llamame si tienes tiempo o si quieres! Henry call meeee! I miss talking ;___: I love you all! I am having fun now in Da Lat we are about to go to a Pagoda and it is new year's day today. I will put up pictures of Da Lat later when I am on a faster internet connection (back in HCMC). Kesia I corrected my mistake when mommy calls there is NO 0 is front of the 9! Thanks...and I am glad you got into college- good job!
Tuesday, February 5, 2008 1 comments

Antibiotics and Things Look Better

Von and Nick

A Vietnamese Public Phone and The Mai Flower Tree

Diamond Plaza!!

So apparently I had a virus. I am on antibiotics now and am feeling MUCH better and more optimistic. It is difficult to be sick in a foreign country without your family around...but I am getting through it, and the people in my group are generally understanding. I am starting to form friendships especially I believe with Jo, Von, Hai Minh and Wen. Last Friday when I fell ill Wen who knows a little about Chinese medicine tried her best to take care of me and yesterday she went to the clinic with me. As soon as I took the antibiotics I felt really sleepy so I slept from 8 pm till 7am and I believe it helped immensely. I am trying to focus more on my ISP (independent study project) and have thought of a subject that may work better for me and that I am more passionate about. Right now all I know is that it will probably entail Japanese investment/investors in Viet Nam and a specific market (maybe Honda?). It is interesting to see how the cheap laborer has also become a market for the Japanese as well. I will also have a chance to practice my Japanese through this.

On another note:
So far this experience has not only taught me more about myself and about what matters to me but also has shown me what path I may want to take in the future. I think I definitely want to do something business related. I will do my best when I come back and will aim for UPenn's dual Master degree program in business and language/culture. However, I may focus on Latin America; I need to focus more on my roots! (my cousin Carlos would probably agree with me on this) I should be proud to be Latino. I won't be embarrassed anymore. I am a wonderful example of what we Latinos are capable of!

Thursday, January 31, 2008 3 comments

And Homesickness Struck

The language barrier is really getting to me and today it hit me harder than ever, with this I also realize that I don't fit in well with my group and this truly bytes. Today at dinner I psst someone off with something that I would usually tell to someone in the States, more like my friends but I apparently offended this guy in my group. I really didn't like the way in which he talked to me. It psst me off but also hurt. Then I started to think about Henry and how even with all my flaws and imperfections is able to deal with me. Even with all my insecurities and my snoring he's happy; this is when I started to feel a pain in my chest and I knew the tears wanted to come. Then I started to think about my mom and how whenever I am down she always helps me to keep going. How she is always so optimistic and how unconditionally she loves me. This experience is definitely helping me to learn to appreciate you guys more. You guys (along with Kesia, crazy Michelle and dad) mean the world to me...and I don't know what I'd do without you. This is a rough time. I am tired everyday (due to jet lag and the intense walking and activity that we have everyday). The only time that I have to talk to everyone is when they are going off to work or are already in classes so I can't even talk to you guys. Today right now it is 9:53 pm and I tried calling my mom at the internet cafe that I am in right now however, the wannabe Spanish music is so freakin loud that she couldn't hear me and I could really use hearing her right now. I know that I have to be strong because I CHOSE this- no one pushed me. I like Vietnamese food and the people, and the city is charming but Jesus crossing the street is like asking to die-seriously(especially at night).

Just to post this I had to walk by myself to the internet café and cross a couple of streets. Imagine that as you cross there is no walk sign and cars and many motorbikes are coming at you and you have to make sure that you don’t run unless you want to get hit. Therefore, one must TRUST that the people riding the motorbike won’t hit you…Nikkia said you know maybe you went to the wrong country- I don’t think it’s right but I think that I should have gone to Japan if I wanted to stick to an Asian country…or even just gone to Central America. I know that I can be open-minded. I love different cultures, foods and languages just ughhh this is so difficult… I just have to try to make the best out of this. I am learning an interesting yet difficult language and I am going to learn a number of wonderful things that I never imagined.

I know that no one but you guys will feel sorry or will care about me and my well being… the kids in the program don’t know me and don’t care about me. We have very few things in common and don’t come from the same state or from the same university. Right now they are doing karaoke and guess what? I didn’t want to go. I wore contacts to dinner today and everyone looked at me odd. They asked are you tired (because I had huge bags under my eyes). They asked why I wasn’t wearing my glasses and if I could see alright. God dammit I was wearing contacts. That is the last time I wear them here. I will wear it to the gym but that’s it! I’ll probably take up Vietnamese martial arts or do weightraining so that I can keep myself busy. You know, I can’t even get someone to go to school with me. Everyone has already broken up into their own groups and I am not a part of any of them... Luckily on my way to the café I found the school, so I will go by myself; It is the university of economics. I don’t need these people because in my heart I have you guys. Maybe I truly am a difficult and ugly person but you guys love me anyway…Thank you for that.

I will try to get online but it is very difficult with my schedule and the fact that to do this means to be on my own.

I love you

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 2 comments

Final Destination: Viet Nam

Currently in the hotel room in HCMC. It's a triplet, meaning that three people are sharing it, it is not glamorous but at least we have beds. The funny thing is when we first got here out room had a huge cockroach in the really gross so much so that I don't think that I could even step on it- so we got moved to another room on the third floor. Then I used up my calling card- the one that is given to us by SIT and I wanted to get another card, or to add money but then there was the language barrier- my vietnamese being non-existent and their english being quite poor. It was at that moment that I think that I began to truly understand what I am up against. Even if it is very difficult I have to do my best!
Monday, January 28, 2008 3 comments

And Then There was Hong Kong

Currently in the Hong Kong airport awaiting our flight to Ho Chi Minh City. We were supposed to arrive at around 11 am today but our plane from L.A. to Hong Kong was delayed, so much so that we missed our connection to Viet Nam. The next plane didn't leave till 4:30pm (which I am currently waiting for). Well it wasn't too was actually for the best. We got vouchers for free lunch and a stay at a nice hotel room for a couple of hours. I got to shower and change and to do some exploring. Though we didn't have a lot of time Duncan, Wen and I decided to venture out to see a bit of Hong Kong before we took off for our flight. These are some of the pictures of our little trip and where we stayed and all that jazz.