Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I did it. I managed to pull off a Thanksgiving to remember. For many of the people invited tonight, my roommates and all our friends, it was their first Thanksgiving. I also invited my American friends because I wanted to share the holiday with people who understood my need to cook starting the night before. Well maybe they didn't understand but they appreciated it. Turkey is pretty expensive over here so I decided to buy chicken instead. I wish I had taken Vietnamese culture into account before doing that. In the end it was soul strengthening. Chickens here come in prepackaged bags with everything attached. And by everything I mean everything. I don't think I've ever bought a chicken from the grocery store with that stuff attached. When I first picked up the chicken I saw the dark matter in the bag and I thought it was giblets, liver, etc that they tend to leave with the chicken for those people that like to use it. So I saw it and thought nothing of it. When I reconnected with my roomies in the grocery store Helen looked at the packages and said "Is that the head?" and I said "No it's the giblets" and she said "no, it's the head." That's when I had a mini panic attack in the pots and pans aisle. The entire way I home I kept thinking about it. Could. Not. Stop. I couldn't stop to the point where I couldn't nap. So I decided to start right away before I lost any nerve I might have built up as a result of  my roommates cheering me on. I pulled the first bird out and after several minutes and angling myself in a multitude of ways I finally chopped it off. I then chopped the second head off. THEN I SAW IT. The feet were attached. They'd been stuck in its belly and kinda came loose after all my angling of the bird. The feet are scary if you've never seen feet attached to chicken. I'd have to stretch the entire leg so I could chop it off at the joint and as it stretched out the claws would extend and separate like it was trying to scratch my eyes out. Absolutely terrifying. But I did it. I feel as if I've grown as a person over the last few years. Vietnam is simply awesome.
I cooked dinner for 13 people and made two chickens wrapped in bacon, mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted bell peppers, roasted zucchini, and glazed carrots. Everything was homemade by the way. Including the gravy. It was the first time I'd ever made gravy and I think it was pretty delicious, if I can say so myself. Lauren made green beans and Helen made a fridge cake. It's basically melted chocolate, digestive biscuits that are crushed up into fine particles, honey, apricots, and raisins. It was delish! Once the chocolate cooled down you could stick it in the fridge until it chilled. Such a good cake!

Here are some pictures to make you drooooool. :D

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I never want to leave...

and I desperately wish I could have this apartment in the States. Sure, it would be ridiculously expensive, practically unaffordable, but one can always dream.
My living situation is pretty saweeeet at the moment. I have two really amazing roomies. Helen and Kat both work for ILA. Kat even works at my center which is good because we can split the cost of a cab if we head in together. Maybe one day one of us will own a bike and drive the other on in. I'm counting on Kat to be the driver. Not sure if I can handle it. Everyone says its easy and I don't plan to drive in rush hour traffic but at the same time it's still crazy!
Helen is currently in the process of getting her bike. She literally just left to get her black Yamaha. It's all she knows about the bike but she's so excited and it's kinda like Christmas around here.
Not much is going on. I've learned that Vietnam has a flu season like everywhere else. Except this time around its bronchitis and a sinus infection that seems to be floating around. I have obviously caught it. It's cool though because it gives me a really good reason to stay in when my friends make plans to do something. It's easier than saying "I really love my apartment and don't want to leave it at the moment. Maybe in 2-3 months."
So life is pretty good. I like my job, I love my apartment, I adore my roommates. Knock on wood that things stay this good.
I'm currently planning my Thanksgiving dinner. I don't think I can find a turkey so I'm making roasted chicken, parmesan asparagus, garlic mashed potatoes, stuffing and oreo truffles for dessert. Hopefully it all works out. Will post pictures if its successful.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My new apartment

Main entrance, dining room

Living room

View from the living room


More kitchen

My bedroom

Large closet

Even larger bed

Super amazing bathroom

View from the living room at night. It's every evening and its amazing.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pictures from Vung Tau Pt. Deux.

Confessions of a brand new teacher...

I've been teaching for about 1 1/2 weeks now. Two weekends and a couple of days during the week. My schedule so far is Saturdays and Sundays, because everyone has to teach on weekends, and then evenings on Tuesday and Thursday. I really hope to keep the Tuesday/Thursday schedule but if I were to get M/W/F I could bank more hours and thus more money faster. For my first two weekends I was given a cover class. The teacher was on vacation for a couple of weeks so I took over his 3rd level Junior class. Juniors are kids between the ages of 7-10 but I have some 11 year olds in my permanent class. They're the really smart ones. This past Sunday I got a taste of what a full day is like. I got to school at 6:15, prepped for my 7:30 am class, had SO much fun with them, got lots of hugs when I said it would be my last class with them and promised to visit them in the future, fixed some admin stuff and then got asked to cover two classes later that afternoon. I was already exhausted because I'm not completely back on a good sleep schedule but the woman who schedules the classes told me I had a Jumpstarts class, which of course I jumped at. They're the 4 to 6 year olds who are COMPLETELY ADORABLE. The cover classes were at another center from 2:30 to 7 pm and I figured, why not, it's more money. My friend Theresa, and future roommate, works at Centre 5 so she welcomed me, showed me around, and got me set up for my afternoon classes. They were fantastic and I had so much fun even though I was exhausted after being on my feet for 4+ hours. Then Theresa got sick. Like violently ill and I felt terrible for her. The centre's academic manager had left for the day and she didn't know what to do so I volunteered to cover her class for her. More money of course and I couldn't leave my friend to suffer like that. Turns out it was for the best. Her class was an Elite class and up until Sunday I had been terrified of teaching them. They're anywhere between 11-17 years old and they have amazing language skills. I was terrified because I was sure that those kids knew way more than me. Well they do but they don't attack you if you don't know something. Plus the cover lesson was on Charities and BOY do I know about charities. The lessons went really well and now I'm rethinking Jumpstarts because even though they're INSANELY cute and they'll crawl in your lap and kiss you and hug you, there's a lot of time spent on the floor and it's murder on my joints. Maybe I'll make it work. In the meantime good things are happening and hopefully I'll have wonderful news to post on Saturday! :) In the meantime, have a good week cyber/real family!

Sorry to disappoint that there weren't any actual confessions.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Things I love about living in Saigon...

I get to go to the beach! Sure, I could go to the beach when I lived in Burke but that was only 2 out of 12 months. Now it's ALL the time. I <3 it so much. I'm off to the beach tomorrow with some of my potential roommates.It's just one night but sometimes that's all you need to recharge. I can't wait! I'll be back soon. Stay anxiously awaiting the next blog post. :P

Shout out to Deepak! I can't wait for you to visit! :)