Wednesday, 25 January 2012

From 'Ciao' to 'Xin chao' - moving from Veneto to Vietnam

I spent all day on the Thursday relaxing on the sandy beach at Ca' Savio with a good book.  The temperature was a perfect 28 degrees, made pleasant by the breeze blowing off the sea.  The sky was a cloudless blue, the sea was warm and there were few tourists so late in the season.  My perfect day!

72 hours later, having flown via East Midlands, London Heathrow and Paris, I emerged from a crowded airport into the chaotic, noisy, rainy, sweltering, sticky city of Saigon, where it took me a good thirty minutes to secure a cab to take me the 40km or so to my hotel.  Once there, I would have a few, restless hours' sleep before starting my new job at the university in the new city of Binh Duong.   What had I been thinking of?  Why had I thought that this would be a good idea?!

That was four months ago now - four months which have been exciting, interesting, eye-opening, sometimes frustrating, but always enjoyable.

The move from Italy to Vietnam came about by chance - it certainly wasn't planned!  We knew we were ready to leave small town Italy with its accompanying small minded views, but Vietnam didn't even feature on the radar as we contemplated our future.  I had had a challenging, but rewarding summer at Rugby summer school.  It was my third summer there, my second as ADOS, but this time I ended up stepping into the role of DOS.  I enjoyed it very much and it spurred me on to study for my DELTA, so that in 2012 I could return to Rugby as DOS in my own right.  Having explored all the options, I decided on CELT Athens to do the course with Marisa Constantinides (@Marisa_C) because she has a great reputation and several of my colleagues have studied with her.   I figured that I could complete the course in a year and that, logistically, it was possible with Mark and I splitting our time and our work between Italy and Greece.  So it was that I applied for the course, completed the pre-interview tasks, had the interview and was accepted.  We then made all our plans based on spending the winter in Europe.

Unfortunately, at the eleventh hour, Marisa had to cancel the course due to a lack of suitable candidates.  I was left with no clue as to what we were going to do for the academic year 2011/2012 and we were already well in to September!  I realised that I was very late to be applying for jobs in Europe.  Searches on proved futile on this front, but then something did catch my eye.  There were a few remaining vacancies for EFL teachers at a brand-new university in a brand-new city in Vietnam.  The advert was appealing and Vietnam had been high on our 'must-visit' countries list for a long time.  There was a problem, however, in that my Dad had been suffering with ill-health for many years and had recently been refused travel insurance.  I was worried about how he and my Mum would feel about us going so far away and them not being able to visit us.  I was staying with them at the time (my husband was still finishing his contract in Italy), so I went to talk to my Dad (my Mum was out).  He gave me his full support and assured me that he would clear things with my Mum.  With his blessing, I put in my application and by the time I went back to tell him it was done, he had already been online to find out all he could about Vietnam and Eastern International University, Binh Duong.  I will post about my very special Dad again very soon!

After that, things happened extremely quickly.  Merin, the DOS at the new university, contacted me within minutes of receiving my CV.  We set up a Skype interview the same day and he offered me a job.  The snag was that the start date was a mere ten days away!  There was so much to organise!  Luckily, I have a very supportive husband and family and everything that needed to be done was done.  I even managed to get back to Italy for a few days to see Mark - he would have to stay there for a few more weeks to complete his contract.

So began our new adventure, more of which you will hear about in the coming months.

From this........

....... to this!!!


  1. Hi Andrea.

    What a great title! What a great post!

    I hadn't heard of Binh Duong New City, how exciting it must be to be part of a new instiution AND a new city. I'll be watching your blog to hear more about your experiences. And if I make it back to Vietnam (very likely) while you're still there, I'll be sure to let you know.

    Cheers, Lesley

  2. Thanks, Lesley - it would be great to meet up if you are ever over here!

    As you say, it is great to be in at the start of something! I'll be posting again soon, both about working at EIU and also about living in a city where myself and my colleagues are almost the only residents!

    Watch this space!

  3. Ca'Savio - Saigon.. what a shock!! :-)

    1. It was a bit!! But we're getting used to it! We do miss Ca' Savio, though, - hopefully, we'll come back one day!