Tomorrow morning, I will leave the continent for two and a half months. This will top my ‘longest’ list in a lot of categories: longest plane ride, longest time and distance away from home, longest trip without anyone I know, longest avoidance of contact with everyone, longest time spent convincing myself that I’m not insane for doing this, and, most importantly, longest separation from my dog and true love Inca. My only fear is that Inca will forget me. Of course that’s a lie, but if I acknowledged my other fears, I probably wouldn’t step on a plane and fly to Vietnam alone. Intentional and self-induced ignorance is bliss.
Full disclosure: I wasn’t supposed to go to Vietnam. Since August, I have prepared to go to Nepal. On the day I planned to book my plane tickets, the earthquake happened. This led to cancelled plans and total devastation and confusion until four weeks ago, when I found out about Student Exchange Vietnam. Because I cannot stay upset for long and could not imagine spending this summer in the United States, I leaped. Even though IE3 Global, the organization I have worked with throughout both my Nepal and Vietnam plans, has never sent an intern through Student Exchange Vietnam, I trusted that any organization willing to begin working with someone three weeks before an internship would be a solid fit. Sometimes my impulsiveness and structured plan avoidance leads to unexpected opportunities.
My brother cannot understand why I would choose to travel and live as far away from comfort and familiarity as I can, but I cannot imagine any reason I would not. I have always been the complete opposite of a homebody, and had I the money and ability to leave everything behind to travel the world in the least cliche way possible, I would. Not that I have the money or ability to do it now, but one summer halfway through college seems like the perfect time to find myself, whoever that may be at twenty years old.
So, here I stand, woefully unprepared because how could I possibly prepare for this? At this point, I know that I will be teaching English to 12-14 year olds, I know that I will be living at a homestay in a village two hours from Hanoi, and I know that the weather will be hot and humid like only Southeast Asia can be. Other than that, my expectations are non-existent and my predictions are irrelevant. I have somewhere to go once I arrive in Hanoi–22 hours after I leave Portland–and I have a mind more open than it has ever been. I don’t need much else to make this the grand adventure I seek.