The Jewrican Traveler » Living in Vietnam Adventure Junkie on a Budget Sun, 03 Jun 2012 16:11:17 +0000 en hourly 1 Video: My Life in Vietnam Mon, 21 Jun 2010 17:04:55 +0000 cbrodzky For the last six months, I traveled throughout Southeast Asia and lived in Vietnam. In six minutes, you’ll get to see how my life as an ex-pat was and hopefully feel inspired to do something similar. Everything from my students to new friends, to learning about a new culture and trying new food, Vietnam has had an impact on my life and I’m happy to finally share it with you. Enjoy!

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Top 20 Things I’ll Miss from Vietnam Tue, 20 Apr 2010 13:52:35 +0000 cbrodzky Since I created a list of the top 20 things I’ll miss from America before I left, I believe it’s only fair that I do the same for Vietnam. In no particular order, here are the top 20 things I’ll miss from Vietnam:

  1. My students
  2. Coffee
  3. New friends (both Vietnamese and American)
  4. Taking two hour naps everyday
  5. Paying less than $10 a day to live
  6. Skipping the chilly winter months in NYC
  7. Not being the whitest person in town
  8. Learning about a new culture
  9. Going to random weddings
  10. Incredible and delicious food
  11. Visiting incredible and unique pagodas
  12. Getting buzzed off of one beer
  13. $10/hour back massages
  14. Using chopsticks for every meal
  15. Banh Mi Op La (egg sandwich)
  16. Saying the only five things I know how to say in Vietnamese
  17. Teaching my students how to fist pump it like on Jersey Shore
  18. Working 15 hours a week
  19. Watching premiere episodes of Glee on Star World, which already appeared in America last year
  20. Getting confused looks when I tell people I’m Jewish

Just to list a few things I WILL NOT miss from Vietnam include the mosquitoes, risking my life on a motorbike, drinking beer with ice in a glass, and the awful Internet connection.


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Flying Kites in Vietnam Fri, 02 Apr 2010 15:48:31 +0000 cbrodzky I recently accepted an invitation by a few of my students to go kite flying! I’ve never done it back home and I’ve wanted to do it ever since I’ve kept seeing kites randomly pop up everywhere. My students made it look so easy to get the kite off the ground but for some reason I just couldn’t get it up (and that’s not what she said).

I learned that March is the best time to go kite flying since the wind is perfect; now that April has arrived I hardly see the kites anymore. Here are some photos from that day.

IMG 2852 Flying Kites in Vietnam

IMG 2839 Flying Kites in Vietnam

IMG 2855 Flying Kites in Vietnam

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Spending Habits in Vietnam Thu, 25 Mar 2010 13:15:03 +0000 cbrodzky Just about everything in Vietnam is really cheap: food, clothes, drinks, doctor and dentist visits, and hookers (not that I would know). Here is what my spending habits for a typical day in Vietnam looks like.

Egg sandwich – $5,000 VND = about $.25 USD
Coffee – $4,000 VND = about $.20 USD

Vegetarian food with rice or noodles – $9,000 VND = about $.50 USD
Yogurt – $18,000 VND = about $1.00 USD

Fried chicken, rice, vegetables, and tofu – $50,000 VND = about $2.50 USD
Chocolate drink and another coffee – $40,000 VND = about $2.00 USD

Bus to Saigon – $80,000 = about $5.00 USD
Hour-long massage – $325,000 = about $10.00 USD

GRAND TOTAL: approximately $10.00 USD a day is needed to live in Vietnam. This cost will of course rise if you decide to eat at the tourist spots downtown or drink excessively, which does happen on occasion. This cost also doesn’t include traveling costs such as airfare, hotel and local attractions.


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Video: Vietnamese Friend Singing Sun, 21 Mar 2010 22:22:57 +0000 cbrodzky No offense to the Vietnamese, but the singing reminds me of nails on a chalkboard. You could imagine my surprise when I heard one of my Vietnamese friends singing for the first time. She’s not only a talented singer, she’s incredibly beautiful and kind.

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How to Overcome Being Homesick While Living in Another Country Thu, 18 Mar 2010 22:06:41 +0000 cbrodzky Being away from home for a long period of time can be rough. Living in another country for the first time and being away from my friends and family is hard at times and only makes me realize how much I miss and love the people in my life, as well remind me to appreciate all the good fortune I have. There are periods when I feelcompletely homesick and really sad.

Here are some tips I use to help me cope that hopefully will be of use to you in your time of need:

  1. Staying in touch with friends. I try to talk to friends back home as often as I can, given the time difference. Everyone’s been keeping me updated on the latest gossip so I don’t feel like I’m missing too much.
  2. Eating foods that remind you of home. Whenever I travel to a new place, I try to eat something that I eat back home, such as pasta, mashed potatoes and chicken quesadillas.
  3. Trying to keep busy. Whenever I’m not at class or traveling, I find that I have a lot of time on my hands. I try to read books, stay afloat on current events back home, learn basic Spanish, and work on my rough draft for a book I want to one day have published. Having this much free time back in corporate America is a rarity!
  4. Maintaining positive thoughts. I keep looking back at my short time in Vietnam and I still can’t believe I’m doing something like this. I’m so proud of myself for leaving everything behind and I know that in just a couple months, I’ll be back home with tons of photos and great stories to share.
  5. Share your feelings with others. There are other American teachers here that have been a great support system. They have all experienced what I’m going through, such as culture shock, and have been offering ways to deal with it.

Perhaps some of these tips will help you overcome homesickness when traveling or living abroad. Can you think of any others?


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Stages of Culture Shock Living in Another Country Sat, 13 Mar 2010 21:49:23 +0000 cbrodzky While teaching at a couple couple private schools in Vietnam, one class requires me to prepare students for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The first chapter talked about the five stages of culture shock and I thought this would be a great post to share with everyone. I’ve definitely gone through these stages and I thought others could relate.

A – Differences and similarities are accepted. You may feel relaxed and confident and you become more familiar with situations and feel well able to cope with new situations based on your growing experience.

B – When you first arrive in a new culture, differences are intriguing and you may feel excited, stimulated and curious. At this stage you are still protected by the close memory of your home culture.

C – Differences and similarities are valued and important. You may feel full of potential and able to trust yourself in all kinds of situations. Most situations become enjoyable and you are able to make choices according to your preferences and values.

D – A little later, differences create an impact and you may feel confused, isolated or inadequate as you start to notice more and more cultural differences and family and friends are not immediately available for support.

E – Next you may reject the differences you encounter. You may feel angry or frustrated, or hostile to the new culture. At this stage you may be conscious mainly of how much you dislike it compared to home. Don’t worry as this is quite a healthy reaction. You are reconnecting with what you value about yourself and your own culture.

(via IELTS Foundation)

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Coping with Life in Vietnam Mon, 01 Mar 2010 14:12:23 +0000 cbrodzky I’ll admit, there are times in Vietnam when I get really frustrated. Sometimes when I try to order some food in Vietnamese, the waiter or waitress never know what I’m saying. When they finally understand what I’m attempting to say, they’ll pronounce in what appears to be the exact same way I just did.

Other times I’ll just be walking along the street minding my own business and some random person has to obnoxiously yell “HELLO”. I get it, you’re not used to seeing someone like me and you want to speak English, but that’s not exactly the best way to go about becoming my friend. Also, people love to stare at me. As one of the other English teachers said, “This must be what it’s like to be a celebrity or prostitute.”

As frustrated as I might get, I love telling my students about it. I’ve become really good at using my hands and body to act out the different situations; I do this just in case they don’t completely understand some of the words that I’m saying, at least they can pick up on my body language to fill in the gaps.

My students love hearing about my life in Vietnam and it actually makes them laugh really hard to hear what happens to me. Hearing them laugh helps me to not take things so seriously, which in turn makes me laugh at my life too.


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A Few Peculiar Vietnamese Habits Wed, 24 Feb 2010 20:02:10 +0000 cbrodzky Here is a small sampling of odd Vietnamese habits that I’ve observed while here:

1) They put big blocks of ice in all their drinks, including beer.

IMG 3507 768x1024 A Few Peculiar Vietnamese Habits

2) They wear socks with their flip flops.

3) Since they use small bowls to eat their food (versus big plates like we do back home), they dump the food they don’t eat on the table.

4) When you’re at the restaurant or cafe looking at the menu, the waiter/waitress will wait at your table until you’re ready to order.

5) They burn big piles of garbage and leaves ALL the time.


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Celebrating Tet, the Vietnamese New Year Mon, 15 Feb 2010 19:53:25 +0000 cbrodzky One of the most anticipated holidays of the year is the Vietnamese New Year ‘Tet’, which marks the arrival of spring based on the Lunar calendar. During this time, families ring in the new year by coming together to eat, drink and most importantly – not work. This was my first Tet holiday and I thought it was great, not only because I got two weeks off from work to travel, but mostly because I got to learn more about the Vietnamese and their culture.

Tet actually lasts for only a few days, but many people take anywhere from a week to a month off from work to spend time with their families and/or travel. During the actual new year, we spent time with our boss and his family in the country.

One Tet tradition we learned about was ‘lucky money’. Our boss’s nephew recited a little prayer for us first in Vietnamese wishing us well in the new year, and in return we handed him a red envelope with money. Here’s an image of the lucky money I received:

IMG 4094 768x1024 Celebrating Tet, the Vietnamese New Year

The food was plentiful and delicious. I do have to admit that I tried field mice for the first – and last – time. So on that note, I hope everyone had a wonderful new year. As they say in Vietnam, Chuc Mung Nam Moi!!


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