American Expat Living in Vietnam - Interview with Nicole

Published: 11 Aug at 9 AM
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Nicole is a twenty-something English as a Foreign Language teacher. She Miley Cyrus, nutella ingested in large quantities, and reading books. One day she hopes to be a rich and successful lawyer. She has been blogging since March 2015, and loves it! Nicole's expat blog is called I Like Airplanes (see listing here)

Bukansan National Park--Seoul, SK
Bukansan National Park--Seoul, SK

Here's the interview with Nicole...

Where are you originally from?
I am originally from Apex, North Carolina, USA.

In which country and city are you living now?
Quinhon, Vietnam.

How long have you lived in Vietnam and how long are you planning to stay?
I've lived in Quinhon for about a month now.

Spring rolls in Vietnam!!
Spring rolls in Vietnam!!

Why did you move to Vietnam and what do you do?
Before Quinhon, I lived in Cheonan, South Korea for about two months. My original plan was to stay in Cheonan for a year teaching English. Teaching English abroad has been a dream of mine for a long time. I chose Korea because the pay is good and I heard the jobs were legitimate. My job in Korea was okay, and I thought everything was going well. But one day my boss abruptly fired me, so I decided to move. I found an ad on craigslist for my current job, and here I am today, teaching EFL to all ages!

Did you bring family with you?
Nope, just me. I'm twenty-two, and a female, so many people find it odd that I'm by myself. People are always telling me I'm too young, or I'm so young. But I believe in learning through experience, and enjoy flexing my muscles as an independent young woman!

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Difficult. There is very little English in Quinhon, and sometimes I get really frustrated because even the simplest things seem impossible. Like laundry, for example. The laundry service always misplaces some of my clothes, and I have yet to get them back! Sanitation is another thing that can drive me crazy. Southern Vietnam is quite hot, and many of the food is not refrigerated. I've been a bit sick numerous times since arriving here. In addition, the school I work at is not clean and doesn't have very good air con! I know these things are to be expected, and I'm not trying to call Vietnam a gross, dirty place. With time I will adjust.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
Quinhon does not have a large population of foreigners. In fact, I know of only three other foreigners living here, and they are all very strange older men that I have nothing in common with. Therefore, I only socialize with locals that can speak English, or at least some English. They're very nice and friendly here!

Me in a cat cafe in Busan, SK!!
Me in a cat cafe in Busan, SK!!
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Hmm the beach is the best! In the evening, the weather cools down and it's fun to go out and relax with a nice cold glass of sugarcane juice.

What do you enjoy most about living in Vietnam?
Teaching. The students are fun to be around and want to learn.

How does the cost of living in Vietnam compare to home?
Super cheap. Average meal is one USD.

What negatives, if any, are there to living in Vietnam?
Vietnam is truly a lovely place, but as soon as my contract ends I'm definitely going home. I dislike the humid weather, and dislike being regarded as a permanent outsider. There is no good coffee here (in my opinion), or beer, and the street food is unsanitary. The language is so, so difficult to learn, and many people come up to me and ask for photos, which really sucks when I'm having a rough day. The last thing I do is want to be in a selfie!

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Vietnam, what would it be?
Hmm, study as much Vietnamese as possible before leaving, and bring a lot of books in your native tongue! Keep calm, and appreciate the little things!

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I'll be happy!! I'll have a new perspective on my hometown, and will hopefully have learned a lot of lessons that will make me successful in the future.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. If you want to move to Vietnam, have a clear idea of what you want from your job. If you want X amount of hours on X amount of days with X amount of vacation, look for jobs that allow that.
  2. Ask and you shall receive! Don't be afraid to ask for what you need.
  3. Be patient with the locals and all the people who stare at you and take pictures. Some will point and laugh, but it's ok, just let it go.
  4. Plan trips out of the city so you can meet foreigners and see more places!
  5. If at first you don't like it, don't leave! Try to adjust and stick it out. The culture shock ebbs away eventually, and you'll appreciate much more around you.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog is about my experiences teaching English in Korea and Vietnam. I tell personal stories about my daily life, and it reads as kind of a diary. Check it out!

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Comment on my blog!

About the author

Expat Blog ListingNicole is an American expat living in Vietnam. Blog description: Read All About Airplanes and How I Like Where They Take Me! This blog is about my experiences teaching English as a Foreign Language in Asia.
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