Saturday, February 12, 2011
(PICTURE: Mai and me.)
A) One of my favorite people I've met over the last few years...
B) The Godmother of the Hanoi Ultimate Club...
C) Now a green card holder living in California..
...came back to Hanoi for Tet! It was Mai's first trip back to Vietnam after living in the United States for over a year. Seeing Mai was not only awesome but also a very eye opening experience for both Huyen and I. Mai married an American last year and has been living in working in California. Hearing about her first year experiences was definitely very exciting and informative but also nerve wracking. Mai is one of the toughest people I've met out here and she confessed to us that she cried nearly every day because of homesickness. Specifically Mai said she really missed her family, friends, the food and the culture in Hanoi.
Neither Huyen or I have any doubts that Huyen will suffer from homesickness too. It's not going to be an easy transition but, like Mai, Huyen is a tough girl. I think Huyen and I also have some advantages over Mai when it comes to our transition. For one, I have been living here a long time and understand Vietnamese culture. I think that will go a long way. Mai's husband, who is a great guy, never lived in Vietnam and might not fully understand the little intricacies of Vietnamese culture (I mean, I say I understand but there's still so much I'm oblivious to I'm sure). Secondly, Mai is living in a smaller city. Huyen and I plan on living in a big city as soon as we can get jobs. I think this will make life more exciting and help Huyen interact more with other Vietnamese people (Mai told us that she goes to the local nail salon to chat with girls there in Vietnamese). Thirdly, Huyen and I will have the goal to make sure Huyen visits Vietnam within the first year away. Our plan is for Huyen to come back to Hanoi next Tet so that she has a set time to return and something to look forward to. Finally, Huyen and I are going to give her parents a computer and set up Skype for them. Mai has talked on the phone with her family but I think seeing someone really makes a huge difference.
It was great seeing Mai and catching up. Huyen and I definitely plan on visiting her the next time we're in California!