Returning home after over a year away in Vietnam is something I’ve thought a lot about. In fact, I thought about it long before I even left. And then I became slightly nervous that reality wouldn’t live up to my expectations. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have visions of Hannah’s-home parades in the streets (okay, maybe just one time…) but I was a little apprehensive that England would feel wrong somehow, like I’d no longer feel that familiar sense of belonging in the place I called home. Yet, in a twist of fate, the reality of homecoming has exceeded my daydreams. Not just in the sense of seeing my loved ones: I’ve also fallen completely in love with England itself. There’s so much about this country that I enjoyed, but didn’t fully appreciate, until I left. Or, more accurately, until I returned. Suddenly, all of the details that were blurred into my overall idea of England suddenly came into sharp focus. It no longer feels like plain old home, and I can honestly say that over the past few weeks I have come to appreciate England in the same way that one would appreciate a beautiful foreign land.
It’s So Green
Everyone who lives in Ho Chi Minh bemoans the city’s lack of greenery, but I honestly though I was one of the lucky few who could live without… until I arrived home. There’s nothing like the smell of fields, grass and flowers on a summer evening. It’s a smell I didn’t even know I missed until it filled my nostrils once again. I love driving to and from work along roads flanked by trees and fields on either side. The English countryside is beautiful, and I’m honestly worried about how much I’m going to miss the greenery when I return to my beloved concrete jungle.
After living in a humid, polluted city, the clean, dry air of England is amazing to breathe in. It’s such a small thing but it makes me so happy.
Shoes in my size? Bras, even? A huge variety of makeup? I won’t lie, it’s nice. Really nice.
As I’ve said before, Saigon is not a walking city. No-one walks really anywhere further than a few hundred metres, largely due to the heat, the motorbikes and a lack of pavement space. I love that in England you can pleasantly amble around without tripping over rubble or almost being run over by a bike.
Everyone Understands Me
A language barrier is an inevitable part of living abroad, and totally my own fault for not learning Vietnamese sooner, but nonetheless, it’s so much easier living somewhere where almost everyone understands you perfectly. Refunds, phone top-ups and general questions are no longer a headache and I can’t help but appreciate it.
I know England is hardly famed for glorious weather but there is nothing like England in the sunshine and this summer has been something else entirely. When it’s sunny, the whole country is on a high. Even the cold days have been enjoyable; it’s nice not to feel sticky with sweat ten minutes after leaving the house.
You know what sucks when reading all the ‘TGIF’ posts on Facebook? Knowing you’ve got a full weekend of work ahead of you. Working weekends is part and parcel of being an ESL teacher and very much worth it to have so much free time during the week, but I can’t lie: having a weekend again is nice. It’s so lovely feeling everyone’s spirits lift when Friday evening rolls around. Although working the weekends is worth it when I’m in Vietnam, I’m going to fully enjoy having them free for now.
Friends ‘n’ Fam
This one goes without saying, but I couldn’t really write a blog without a small mention of my friends and family who have been so amazingly lovely in welcoming me home. From decorating my wheelie bins (they’ve wheelie missed me since I’ve bin gone- their puns, not mine…) to baking me my favourite nutella swirls to making me insulting banners anticipating my return to ‘Nam, it’s been the absolute best.