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Moving to another country: The first month living in Vietnam

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Vietnamese person riding a bicycle

The first month living as an expat in another country is a whirlwind of excitement, anxiety, wonder, stress and curiosity. Feelings become mixed but one thing stays solid in the mind; however you feel on a given day will change but the overall experience cannot be beat.

My first month living in Hanoi, Vietnam was a whole patchwork of emotions and experiences. It was the first time that I really was left to set up my life in another country without the help of a job. When my boyfriend and I first turned up to Hanoi, we had booked into a hotel for a few days to get settled. Off the tip of a friend who had previously visited the city, we joined the Facebook group, Hanoi Massive. Apparently ran by other foreigners, it was a group that connected expats in the city to resources that they needed. While scrolling through the page, I found that local realtors were posting apartments for rent. A quick message and phone call later and we found ourselves on the backs of two strangers’ motorbikes, headed to look at an apartment.

Hanoi from the top - Motorbikes around

The first one we saw caught our eyes and eager to establish our lives, we ran to the ATM for deposit money and planned to move in the next day. It was a studio, had a rice cooker and was in a location walk-able to most of the city. My partner set off to buy a motorbike the next day, taught himself how to drive it and how to balance with me on the back. With wheels, we headed to the markets, stocked up on groceries and actually started to feel at home.

The rest of the weeks were spent exploring the city, feeling accomplished when we remembered how to get to our new favorite coffee shop or that random alley where we had found the best Pho.  We occupied our time with exploration, figuring out the scams, how to cross the road without being run over and even the best spots to make some friends. It felt good to have a new home.

Hanoi - Streets from Vietnam




Shannon is an American travel blogger and writer who has backpacked around Europe, lived out of a van in New Zealand, taught English in Asia, lived in a Balinese bungalow and road tripped all around the United States. You can follow her adventures at Lives Abroad or visit her on Facebook for updates and inspiration.