I always think of the best thing to say in an argument after the fact. Often, the eureka moment occurs in the shower two days later. In the same vein, it is taking me more than a week to absorb and make sense of my TAB experience in Vietnam. I am missing the country terribly, the people, the food, the beach, the liveliness of Da Nang, the students and teachers, my apartment, my motorbike, and the warm weather! I am back in Calgary now, and well underway in my third practicum placement at a middle school in the city. When I arrived back last week, I did not want to be here. I have never really liked November in Calgary. It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s gloomy. I wasn’t prepared to deal with the post-TAB blues and November blues at the same time. But life goes on and there is fun to be had and more things to be learned as I dive right into the remaining months of my Education journey!
The nine weeks in Vietnam had their moments of amazing highs and lows. And in between the calm (i.e., strolls along My Khe beach) and the chaos (i.e., end-of-October madness with finishing group projects), the mundane and routine of waking up at 6 am, putting on an ao dai¸ riding a motorbike to the schools, and going to Bac My An market and Lotte Mart for groceries seem to be the ones I am missing the most. Earlier in August, I was chatting with someone who I consider a mentor and we talked about how traveling can be a transformative experience. Did my TAB experience in Vietnam change my life? No. I quickly fell back into my routines and habits shortly after arriving back in Calgary—though a bit of a challenge with the jetlag! I am still either taking my sweet time or rushing, I am still driving my car to school, and I am still missing breakfast. It wasn’t life-changing in that I am still the same person that I was before my departure in August. But what TAB did was it gave me a change of perspective. I am a little more aware, a little more grateful, a little more present, and lot bit more open to embracing uncertainties.
As I read my letter-to-me I wrote during our last pre-departure workshop, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment because I really did what I hoped I would do. For instance, I wrote, “Moments, both the extraordinary (going on trips, presenting at the university, interacting with students and staff) and the mundane (going to the market, eating at a restaurant, walking by the beach) have taught you valuable things you’ll bring back to Canada. I’m sure Vietnam was full of surprises. It must have been exciting, scary, wonderful, and so beautiful!” I did go on weekend trips (Saigon, Dalat, Hoi an, & Hue); I did presentations at the university and at the schools; I religiously went to markets; certainly ate local foods; and unwound at the beach! Vietnam was definitely full of surprises, it was everything I hoped and said it must have been and more!
Settling in the Grade 5 classroom I am placed for Field Experience III has also been a smooth transition post-TAB. The two months of teaching elementary and high school students in Vietnam has made it easier to get into the swing of things such as in lesson planning and establishing a teacher presence in the classroom. I know that I will always refer to my TAB adventures because they would only enhance my future teaching experiences from here on in.
Xin cảm ơn,