The first morning I woke up in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, I called my dad crying about how I was too scared to leave my hotel room to get breakfast. The thought of leaving the safe haven that was that hotel room made me want to puke almost as much as the four months that lied ahead of me.
But four months later, I decided to push my return flight back a few weeks, travel around Southeast Asia, and stay a week in Ho Chi Minh City solo. I went from fearing going to breakfast alone to thriving off exploring the city and eating just with myself. This week alone was the perfect end to an adventure that taught me os much about myself.
This country has taught me that I am so much stronger than I give myself credit for. I put myself on a plane, and not only existed in this city across the world, but thrived! Vietnam has given me so much to be thankful for and taught me so many lessons.
1. Just because your parents call you a “country bumpkin” doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of living in a city.
I went from a town with a population of around 5,000 to a city with millions of people. I crossed busy city streets. I navigated public transportation like a pro. I got lost. I read maps. I found what I was looking for.
I didn’t let the fear of crossing a busy road cripple me. I took full advantage of having everything at my fingertips in a city. Who know’s maybe I am fully capable of living in a city (Hint Hint: Future Law School location).
2. My family members are my biggest cheerleaders.
I would have not made it to this day if it were not for the love and support of my parents, my brother, my sisters, and my grandparents. I am so thankful for their letters, FaceTime calls, and prayers through out this journey.
Whenever I would get homesick during my time abroad I would picture the reunion in the airport. The thought of embracing my Mom & Dad was enough to keep me going. When I saw them waiting for me in the airport with “Welcome Home” signs and a ‘Happy Birthday” balloon (even though it wasn’t my birthday) I couldn’t help but cry of happiness.
3. GOD IS SO GOOD, ALL THE TIME!
Who knew that my faith would grow by leaps and bounds nine thousand miles away from home in a city in Southeast Asia? I’m so blessed to have a God who didn’t leave my side from the moment I stepped on that plane. I truly do “walk by faith” and would not have been able to do it without leaning into Him.
I’m thankful that my parents raised me in the faith and that I was motivated enough to get myself to church every Sunday, end or start each day with a Rosary, and talk about religion with my friends. I could not have done this journey without the presence of the Lord.
4. Don’t let people dictate what plane you get on.
This is metaphorical but basically don’t let people tell you what to do with your life. Remember my freshman year of college where I wasn’t going to study abroad because of a boy? Well I’m glad life worked out the way it did. I’m glad I made this decision for myself because it was what I needed in life right now.
I spend a lot of time thinking about what I can do that would best suit the needs of others, constantly worried about pleasing those around me. But Vietnam taught me that I should not worry so much about what others think. I should start doing what makes me happy!
5. Study abroad friends are UNREAL.
I’m so fortunate to have been able experience Vietnam with some of the most amazing people I have ever met. Their radiant personalities, their passion for life, and their love and support did not go unnoticed. I have made some forever friends on this journey and cannot wait to continue growing these relationships in the Untied States.
6. There’s no place like home!
I wasn’t sure what to expect arriving back in the United States. I didn’t know if things were going to feel out of place or unusual. I prepared myself for the lack of noodles for breakfast, more English speakers, and the political climate as best as I could. But, surprisingly, being home was the same, which was a comforting thought. Besides the new dishwasher in our kitchen and that my little sister is now driving, my family was still functioning the same.
I had never been so happy to be woken up early by my brother’s guitar. I had never been so excited to have to steal all of my clothes back from my sisters. I had never been so relieved to know that our family’s band is still existing (& doing really well without me).
I am forever grateful for everyone who helped me get to this point. My time in Vietnam was something that I would not give up for the world. Some days, the busy streets of Saigon seem more like home than my small town USA, but I am eager for the day I hop on a plane for another 24 hour trip back to my favorite city.
I’m looking forward to a summer filled with family time, working, singing, and getting over this insane jet lag. And, who knows maybe I’ll have to start a real blog now that I am back in the States. I loved writing this one so much!
A tired but grateful,