What I Learned in a Coffee Shop

I told myself I wasn’t going to blog. I was pretty firm on this decision as well. I told myself I would journal so it can be more personal and I don’t have to worry about annoying everyone with my constant posts. While journaling is great for me, I needed a creative way to reflect on this crazy adventure I’m on in a public forum. Sooooo, here we are, “A Semester in Saigon.”

I’ve been in Vietnam for a week now. After a long fourteen hour plane ride to Tokyo, a mad dash to my gate in Japan, and another 6 hour flight to Ho Chi Minh City, I safely arrived at my final destination. This semester is one of many firsts: my first time away from home for this long, my first time 8,738 miles away from my parents, my first time living in a busy city, and my first time ever outside of the United States is now a four month long excursion to Vietnam (Go big or go home, am I right?). I’m not going to lie and say that this transition was smooth, it was filled with lots of anxiety and tears. There have been multiple morning FaceTime calls to my parents where I am in tears about the distance. While the homesickness is definitely alive and present, I am in awe at the strength I did not know I had. I need to remind myself of all that I have accomplished in the little time I have been here. I’ve traveled the busy streets on a motorbike, hiked through the jungle, been on a plane alone, laughed at awkward language barrier conflicts, and met some pretty amazing friends along the journey.

Routines are developing and I am finding the structure very enjoyable. My major type-A personality thrives off of this schedule. Today during out two hour lunch break, after a laundry run, an amazing $1 lunch at a popular local street food venue, and a walk down the busy road, I found myself in a coffee shop catching up on some readings. “The Coffee House” is as close as one can get to a Starbucks. It has the same modern but rustic charm, great coffee, delicious pastries, but a whole lot cheaper.

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I have always been a student who enjoys doing homework in busy places. I enjoy the crowds in our campus coffee shop and although people watching distracts me at times, I tend to be very productive in these settings. Every morning during this past winter break, I found myself in the local Starbucks studying for the LSATs for hours at a time. I would put in my headphones and get to work.

Today, as I sit here with an iced peach tea and tiramisu, I find myself finally feeling at home. I’m across the world in South East Asia, but finding places where I can still find comfort and solace. For the past week, I was having an amazing time. I’ve seen crocodiles in the rainforest, visited temples, “chilled” at some beautiful rooftop bars, tasted the unbelievable street food of the city, but I’ve still been feeling a bit uncomfortable at times. It was a kind of discomfort that I couldn’t put my finger on until right now. I think I was just missing being in my element, and right now, I have started to feel much more at home. I have never been forced so far out of comfort zone before this trip and today, I am able to feel more confident about where I am in this journey. I have my headphones in, my Jesus music playing, and a cool drink to quench the 90 degree heat.

Ultimately, today has been a day of growth & empowerment. After the lessons I learned in the coffee shop, I got the strength to take a motorbike ride to a go to a pho restaurant for dinner alone. For anyone who knows me, I don’t even go to the bathroom alone at college let alone travel through Ho Chi Minh city on the back of a motorbike to eat alone in a restaurant. However, I am feeling fully capable and confident. I want to challenge myself to recognize when I step out of my comfort zone and applaud myself for being comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Stay tuned for more adventure updates & photos. Vietnam is everything & more!

EKH

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