Looking Back Part I.

On a more serious note.

I have learned a lot of things in my time in Vietnam. I could list them all, but as I presently have other things to do, instead I am going to go with what is on my mind right now.

  • I learned that I depend a lot on an identity that is not fixed and is connected to particular situations.
  • That is not who I am.
  • I don’t know who I am.
  • Nor do I know what I want to do. I came here to use Vietnam as help figuring out what focus I wanted for History. Perhaps if I still can’t figure that out, I’m not destined to go to graduate school for history and should pursue other options. Once I figure those other options out.
  • I lost the skills I have taken so much pride in. I have been so completely dissatisfied with my photography (I think I know why, I haven’t been comfortable or taking any risks in asking people if they will let me take their pictures. My landscapes are okay, but it’s my people that are worth doing) and my writing/researching/academic skills, both of which I have considered among my strengths in the past. I still haven’t figured out what that means (that I have to use them or loose them?) and I am hoping it is mostly temporary.
  • I am a lot more scatterbrained than I ever thought possible. Enough where I have considered getting it checked out when I get back to the states.
  • My friends are important to me. I mean, I knew this, but this was a good exercise in the obvious.
  • I can handle living in a random city completely different from what I am used to and without speaking the language.
  • I have become more conservative than I once was. (Shh don’t tell Dad) Though really in the scheme of things – did I become more liberal? It all loops around anyway.
  • Grass is never greener! In fact, it might be polluted and brown.
  • My culture has shaped me more than I had thought. Also, prior to this trip I would have never given American culture any thought. Go abroad to learn about your own culture, eh?
  • I am a lot more laid back. When it comes to service, people, time, food – I get a lot less irritated. Or fearful. Sure, I still think about the probability of Hep A being all over the dishes I am eating off of, I still think about the fact that there is no soap in the bathroom and no one who has been in here has washed their hands so using hand sanitizer seems almost like a moot point… and I still notice the cat-sized rats at restaurants, but it doesn’t bother me anymore. (Okay. The lack of soap still does.)
  • I still can’t do: squat toilets.
  • I still can’t speak Vietnamese.
  • I’m still not entirely comfortable bargaining. Mostly because it’s usually over pennies for me and frankly, even if they are ripping me off, they need it more than I do.
  • Cambodia, soon. Revising my econ paper, the “last lunch” shindig, mailing some shit off that will get to the United States around the time I’m ready to start school again, packing and somehow making 48lbs on my way here into under 40lbs. Oyi.

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