Week of Goodbyes

I feel mixed emotions with there being less than a week left of our internship. I am so happy to go home to my family; however, I don’t want to leave Vietnam because Ho Chi Minh feels like home now. It feels like I will be trading in the family and friends I have made in Vietnam for my family and friends in New Zealand. We all say that we will put in the effort to meet up after the internship, but who knows what the future has in store for us? This might be the last time we interns will all be in the same room.

It has been an honour that I had the opportunity to make friends with interns from The University of Waikato (Hamilton), the University of Wollongong (Australia) and The University of Navarra (Spain). The friends and memories I have made through this internship are unforgettable. It’s hard to articulate into words the bond we all now share through this shared experience.

I didn’t think leaving a country would be so hard. I will miss the little things, like riding a scooter, crossing busy roads, walking the streets at night, getting food delivered to my doorstep and haggling. I know all this won’t make sense to you as the reader, and that’s because you have to be here to experience it. I will miss the late-night conversation in our apartment with the other interns or the fact that we were all a door away from each other. I’ll miss our apartment security guard the most. He cared for us by opening our doors and assisting us when our driver didn’t speak English. Even though he could not speak English, his smiling face and friendly hellos, good mornings, and goodnights made our day. I am going to miss little things like that. Like the heat hitting your face as we step outside, the noise that several honking cars and scooters make in traffic, the breeze and adrenaline you feel on the back of a fast scooter, and so on. This has become my home, so I know that re-culture shock will hit me hard.

It is so much more than just missing the people, food and places. It’s an entirely different world from the one we grew up in. There are many differences but so many similarities too. It was a privilege to have lived in Vietnam, to have interacted with the locals, and to have been given the opportunity to learn about the culture and history of the country. It has changed my worldview. And has made me realise how privileged we are to be from New Zealand. This experience has not only made me respect and fall in love with Vietnam, but it has also made me appreciate my birth country New Zealand.

Through this experience, I have really grown as a person. I have gotten a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses. Freedom and independence have shown me who I truly am. Living every day out of my comfort zone has made me evolve into this independent woman who can care for herself emotionally, physically or financially. I came into the internship with so many insecurities. However, I am coming out of it knowing my worth. You won’t think two months could change someone, but it can. I have gotten to have the pleasure of seeing every single intern’s growth throughout the two months. Many have pivoted their career aspirations, some have entirely changed their degrees, and all of us have developed a passion for travel.

I don’t know when I will be coming back to Vietnam. But I know when I do, it will be like coming home. The nostalgia will consume me, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I want to take this time to thank CRCC Asia, the University of Auckland and The New Zealand Government for giving me this opportunity to grow and learn from another country. This has been one of the best experiences of my life. I can’t wait to bring back everything I have learned to New Zealand and use it to uplift others while maintaining a strong connection with those back in Vietnam.

Goodbye Vietnam, until next time

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