Category Archives: Grace

Exciting Things I’ve Done So Far

Doing a placement abroad means that there is so much more to the experience than just a job. Living in a country as wildly different as Vietnam has led me into some pretty fun ‘extra-curricular’ activities on a regular basis. Here is a selection of my highlights from the first half of my placement.

1. Parasailing 

Parasailing would have been a great activity to try in the UK, but throw in a little Vietnamese-style health and safety (and lack thereof) and boy is that an experience!

But I didn’t die, and it was amazing to be able to see the entire city to one side, and endless ocean to the other.

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2. Trips Away

I’m so lucky to have a placement in such a wonderful and diverse country such as Vietnam, and so any opportunity to see more of it and I’m on board.

I have the beautiful Ancient town of Hoi An on my doorstep, and have been able to have weekends away in the old capital, Hue and the bustling, hectic Ho Chi Minh City.

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On top of this I was able to spend my Christmas expanding my horizons and exploring more of Asia, visiting Bali, Kuala Lumpar and Singapore.

Each of these trips have given me new and diverse perspectives on life, shown me spectacular views and allowed me to taste wonderful foods.

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Travelling really has been one of the best parts of this placement.

3. Ending up in the Ocean After Nights Out

We work hard but we certainly play hard too. For such a small city, Danang has a surprisingly consistent night-life. Each week we meet new people travelling through, and make some really great friends in the process.

And what better way to solidify a friendship? Ending up in the ocean at 2am. Yet another perk of having the beach so close.

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4. Attending my First Vietnamese Wedding

Weddings are a fantastic way of seeing into a country’s culture, and as luck would have it, one of the best friends I have made on this placement got married in October, and I was honoured to be part of it.

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It was slightly crazy, I understood very little of what was going on, but it was a brilliant night, full of joy and love, and I was thrilled to be there.

5. Meeting Ambassadors

For a teaching job I’ve done a surprising amount of networking.  I’ve met a lot of important people I never thought I would get a chance to meet, including both the Vietnamese Ambassador to the UK, and the American Ambassador to Vietnam. I’ve had a chance to meet and work with some great minds from around the world and it really has been a pleasure.

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I’ve also taken shots with the keynote speakers from international conferences, but that’s a story for another day…

6. A Few Body Mods

So it looks like I’ll be coming home with at least one new tattoo and one new piece of facial jewellery – but the year’s only halfway through…

Getting a new tattoo and my nose pierced in Vietnam weren’t actually as scary and back-alley as they sound, I did go to well established places.

It was a lot of fun, and tends to worry people when I tell them.

 

These are just a few of the things I’ve been up to both in and out of work. Whittling it down to just these few was hard, as these six months have been so full and diverse. Who knows what your year will hold!

A Day in the Life of My Placement

Before I write any more about the challenges and experiences of my time in Vietnam, I thought I’d give you all some more information on what I actually do on my placement.

I’m on a working placement in Danang, Vietnam as an IELTS instructor at VNUK, a new, Western-style University partnered with Aston,  and a day here is a lot different to a day as a university student.

6am: The Alarm goes off

The Vietnamese day starts a lot earlier than the British one, and I’m in work at 8am. (I’m never complaining about a 9am lecture again!)

7.45am: Coffee Time!

A Vietnamese coffee goes a long way to help me cope with such an early start. Stronger, sweeter and icier than the coffee I’m used to, I think I’m addicted.


8am: Work starts

After a quick moped ride, navigating the hectic streets of Da Nang, I get to the office at 8, check some emails and make some final preparations for that morning’s lesson.

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10am: Lesson time

I tutor university students in English and it’s my favourite time of day. Despite all the challenges (I’m sorry to all my teachers for ever talking in class- it’s so frustrating!) it’s really rewarding to be able to see students improve every week. My students are friendly, engaging and fun to spend time with, saying goodbye to them will be one of the hardest parts of leaving this placement.

11.30am A snack and a nap

We are given a nice long lunch, so after a trip to my favourite restaurant (I don’t even have to order any more, they just see me walk in and my food appears) I give myself a refreshing nap – it’s like I’m still at university really.

1pm: Back to work

After I’ve woken myself up I finish up my lesson plan for the afternoon and catch up with any marking I need to do.

3pm: English Club

Once a week we run an English club called Tea Time Talk. This offers a more relaxed environment where we get to teach students about life in Britain, and help them improve their English with informal conversation.

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5pm End of work – to the gym

Weekends are spent on the beach, which means weekdays are spent at the gym, and who wouldn’t want to work out to Vietnamese dance music next to a woman wearing denim shorts with no air conditioning?

7pm: Grab some street food

The best way to dine in Vietnam! Sitting on chairs that are way too small, eating delicious food of slightly dubious origin, drinking a cold beer and watching city life pass you by. This is the life.

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I hope this gives a bit of an insight into how I spend my days here, after 6 months here (where did that time go??) I’m now used to all the subtle differences that working life in Asia offers. I don’t even look twice at the sight of a moped with 5 people on it and torrential downpours are really no biggie. And with a schedule like this, I have really been able to focus on refining my napping skills!

Thanks for reading!