I apologize in advance for this not being a humorous post. As I wrote a while ago, I moved away from my home country to pursue a fantastic career opportunity. I haven’t written about life as an expat because I’m not entirely certain if my readers would find it interesting & because mostly, everyday life isn’t entertaining or amusing. Having said that, I wrote this because this is how I felt while I was in Hanoi.
Hanoi is the capital & second largest city in Vietnam. The city is an incredible blend of east & west. While there are many cities with unusual & fascinating blends, Hanoi seemed to have caught me off guard. The old French architecture is fused perfectly with Vietnamese culture & way of life. I absolutely loved sitting at a street side restaurant, sipping a Saigon beer & watching the world go by.
As interesting & unique as I found Hanoi to be, Hanoi made me feel like such a foreigner. It made me realize that when I left to go ‘home’, I wouldn’t be going home at all – I would be going to a flat thousands of kilometres away from the life I was so used to & to face the everyday problems every other expat faces.
I felt lost & not because I didn’t know my geographical location, but rather I felt a general feeling of not belonging. I began to have very negative thoughts about the decision I made to leave South Africa a few months ago. For the first time in this terrifying, crazy, exciting adventure, I felt homesick. I felt extremely guilty for putting my parents in a position to worry about & miss me the way they do. I felt so upset that I missed my sister’s wedding. I got sad at thinking of how much my nieces will grow & change while I am not there. I missed the comfort of being a local. I could go on for ages with the negative things I thought about.
Once you are in that state of mind, it is so easy to continue feeding that negativity. I think it is important to acknowledge those emotions & allow yourself to feel that way for a while, but then you have to move on with life. I have two things that I live by when it comes to missing home & homesickness: First, if you hadn’t been given an opportunity great enough to leave home, you wouldn’t have. Second, if you weren’t blessed with an exceptional life at home, you wouldn’t miss it.
This crazy adventure has already had so many surprises & twists along the way… one of them finding myself in Hanoi watching the sun set over the congested streets while locals beep their way around on scooters. Life is an adventure – an adventure with highs & lows &, well, I wouldn’t be me if I had said no to this adventure.
Keep traveling, keep safe.