I cannot believe this year in Hanoi has come to an end. Now to be on the other side of this time spent exploring, learning, challenging myself, opening my mind, experiencing, living, crying, and laughing, is kind of hard to get a grasp on and write about. So much happened during this time spent away and I believe that I have profoundly changed. In my everyday life I feel more confident. I feel like I can deal with most situations and I can make decisions more easily. When things get difficult, I accept situations and move on more easily because things usually have a way of working themselves out. Everything seems to have become more peaceful and beautiful, even the traffic that I spent so much time fighting has turned into something to appreciate in its crazy imperfect chaotic existence. I learned that the only way to really deal with traffic is to accept it for what it is, the good and the bad wrapped into one.
Overall I think that what this trip allowed me to do was to get out of my comfort zone in so many ways and it has made me a better person for it. Before I went to Vietnam, I would say I challenged myself somewhat to do things I was not always comfortable with, but I still managed to somehow hang on tightly to my securities, my home, my routines. When I arrived in Vietnam everything seemed to be pushed off balance so that even habits and abilities that you can bring with you wherever you go seemed to get thrown up in the air. After a period of adaptation when I first arrived, where I felt like I had regressed back into childhood, I slowly built my life back up into a satisfying mix of friends, work and leisure. The difference I felt about this new life was that I felt stronger, less afraid and more adaptable. I noticed myself doing a lot of things without overthinking. What was important to me seemed clearer, and I could focus more on what I wanted to do. Getting through difficult situations left me feeling like things aren’t always as bad as they seem, and that I could handle a lot, making most of life’s regular problems seem lighter and more manageable.
And so with mixed feelings, but a lighter spirit, I decided to come back to Montreal. Life in Hanoi is great, but I could feel a push coming from somewhere that I needed to move on. It may be only for short while, as I don’t know what the future holds for me, but my indecision on whether or not to stay could only be decided by leaving. Saying goodbye to friends and a city that I have come to know and love was difficult. Even now that I’m back, the memories of the past year are still so fresh I can touch them. I keep in my heart what a friend said, “you can only say goodbye to people that you have met and gotten to know. It would be sadder to have never met them at all”. While I am sad to have left Vietnam, I think I would be even sadder had I never gotten on that plane. And so here I am, back in Montreal for two weeks now, curious to see what the next chapter of life will be about. Hẹn gặp lại Hanoi!