Back home

I have been back in Calgary for two days now and have spent some time reflecting on my time in Vietnam and the things that have left the biggest impressions on me.  

In these first few days I realized once again how different life is between Canada and Vietnam. One of the first things I noticed once I was back home was the amount of structure and order our lives have in Canada. Everything - the traffic, the streets and houses, even they way people dress - is so incredibly orderly. It almost seems overdone to me now. I noticed I am suddenly more concerned with how I look when I leave the house. I am more self-conscious because I somehow feel it matters more and that people here will judge me. At the same time, this seems paradoxical since what struck me the most about Canada so far is how 'impersonal' my surroundings feel now. Nobody here cares when I walk down the street, whereas in Vietnam I always drew attention and everyone was excited to talk to me. Some people even insisted on taking pictures with me. Even among the locals, there seemed to be more of a connection between the people in Vietnam. The feeling is hard to explain. While I appreciate the privacy and anonymity I have here in Canada, it does feel odd. As a whole, it seems everyone here is operating inside a personal bubble, inside their own private world, even when outside in public. I too feel like I am disconnected and removed from the people around me. I almost feel a bit lonely. It is fascinating to me how different the experiences can be from one place to the next.

My practicum placement here in Canada will start in only a few days and I am curious to see how it will compare to my time in the classrooms in Vietnam. I wonder what new differences I will notice once I am back in a Canadian school. The classroom is where I think my time in Vietnam has affected me the most. Teaching in Vietnam, and living there in general, has been an unpredictable roller coaster and I have constantly been thrown into unexpected situations. This has helped me learn to relax, to not be as stressed as I used to be, and to simply go with the flow. I really hope that I can hang on to this newfound confidence and calm in the future. I have also been forced to work without many of the basic resources that we tend to take for granted here in Canada such as books, space to work in groups, or any sort of technology. I am now much more aware and appreciative of the resources we have here and I hope that I will be more mindful of how I use them to improve my teaching going forward. Most importantly, as mentioned in previous posts, Vietnam has helped me to truly understand the importance of building genuine relationships with my students.

As I think back on my time in Vietnam, I am incredibly thankful that I got to be a part of the Teaching Across Borders Program. This experience has had a significant impact on who I am as a teacher and has helped me grow as a person as well. Vietnam has been amazing!!

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