Friday, June 16, 2006

Unfinished Business

Here we are on the last day of school for Carol with so much left to do. After much weighing of all of the options and the pros and cons of various scenarios, we have decided to spend the next school year back here in Hà Nọi Việt Nam.

Yes, Ira can now type in Vietnamese as you can see from the above accent marks! We love this city and its people and the thought of never again being here was not welcome. We would have loved to arrange some sort of a part-time scenario especially since it would be possible to keep a home in Hà Nọi rather cheaply.

The Universal Health Care in the US was very attractive but...Oh that's right, there isn't any! I guess no one has thought of it yet. But seriously, health insurance and costs were a huge factor in our decision. Carol's school pays for a very good medical plan and our doctors at International SOS are first-rate.

The school also pays for a lot of transport and other costs if you teach for two years.

On the down side, we are far away from friends and family. We keep in touch with email and Skype but can't drop by for dinner.

We will be taking a short holiday in India. Why didn't anyone tell us it gets hot this time of year? After that we will be in the States from 27 June through 6 August catching up with the respective families and probably getting a serious steak or two and perhaps a Slurpee.

We don't have shortages but there are some things that are just not the same like burgers(though a great brewpub in Singapore has good ones with decent fries) steaks, pastrami and hot dogs. Also big salads are difficult to come by.

Next year, we decided to stay at the Sofitel Plaza Apartments. They are expensive compared to what you can get size-wise for a lot less money, but we prefer to have zero chance of roof and window leaks, creatures of all sorts, air-con that is iffy, power outages and the like. Also, since it is a hotel, the service is better than in any other serviced apartments. We are treated like hotel guests, rather than tenants. Of course, next year it will be a hardship to get to the gym as we are moving all the way from the 4th floor, where it is located, up to the 5th.

Today, Ira made the rounds and said goodbye to his riends and acquaintances. He may forget a lot of his Vietnamese although people have promised to email and sms(text message).

We have heard that reverse culture shock is twice as bad as that of when you move to a foreign country. Perhaps this is because you are on your guard more in a new place but feel that "home" can't be all that difficult. Anyway, we haven't driven a car in nearly a year so what will that be like? Carol is also worried that Ira will be forgetting where he is and yelling Em ơi!! to get a waiter's attention as they do here.

Regardless, we hope to have a great time in the US. We have taken an apartment in King of Prussia, strategically located between Ira's mom, Ira's brother and Carol's family.

We are renting a mobile phone to keep in touch and have a credit card ready to buy gas, talk about shock! Between doctors' appointments, visits to family and purchasing the things that are difficult to get in Việt Nam, we will probably be quite busy.

Now it is time to finish part 1 of this exciting time in our lives and for Hanoi Journal to close. there will probably be another installment next year but for now we must say tạm biệt.