I took this photo on my first day in Hanoi. I was immediately welcomed into this country with open arms from many of it’s people. The first thing that tied my heart down to Ha Noi, the first city I’d explored in a country other than my own, was the architecture. Oh, the architecture. I mean look at these buildings. The tiny lanes, the tall thin houses, the french influence on the buildings façades.
Maybe it was the fact that I had never been out of my comfort zone – never been out of Melbourne – never explored, but I knew I was in love with this country and it’s people almost instantly.
However, my first day was not all amazement and wander. My grandmother and aunt accompanied me on my voyage over to this country, (I’m pretty useless when it comes to directions and the very daunting thought of me going to another country alone was too much for the family to bare – embarrassing) and only a few hours after taking in an entirely new culture, my poor grandmother was blantally robbed by a street vendor who took money straight from her wallet. Now, I still have no idea how much they took as we were new to the currency, but regardless, they took money from an older lady’s purse and that’s wrong. Albeit taken aback by this confronting situation, I believe it was a good lesson for me. I learned that to get by in this city you had to be smart, and I learned very fast how easy it is to tell a traveler from an expat, and how a lot of people selling things will use that to their advantage. I quickly began adapting to the culture, money, people, food, and mannerisims, and very quickly, a 2 month overseas trip to volunteer, turned into a 6 month and counting career building expat with no intention to return home any time soon.
This country has become somewhere I am safe, somewhere I am thriving as myself, somewhere I am comfortable, and most importantly somewhere I want to be. Somewhere I can call home.