Well, once again, it’s been a little while since I last posted. Life these last few weeks has been a blur of goodbyes and hellos, packing and unpacking and settling back in. A time full of transition, and anticipating the further transitions to come.

Just over a month ago, we stepped onboard a plane – a week earlier than initially planned – to move back to the UK. In the end, with Hanoi’s restrictions heightening, flights were changed and our final fortnight in Vietnam was shortened to a final week. That week was unsurprisingly hectic as we stuffed our bags, donated things, met friends and did as many of the ‘lasts’ we were able to. One last walk round the Old Quarter; one last takeaway from our favourite restaurants. One last sunset enjoyed on the rooftop (which ended with us being locked on the roof and having to yell 7 floors down to the street, but that’s another story).

A ~32 hour journey door to door, in which my face was all but hidden underneath a face mask, eye mask and headphones, brought us back to my parents’ house. A thousand miles from the Hanoi hustle and bustle (geographically and otherwise), they live in a countryside village with a garden bigger than the house and the sounds of sheep and birds instead of motorbikes and street sellers. Despite having to quarantine for several days, the outdoor space and long June days made jet lag and early mornings a blessing. After a few tests, when my freedom was announced via email, I was able to enjoy what I’d been missing. What’s followed has been weeks of countryside walks, my daily step count average higher than ever within Hanoi. I’m stopping to see the flowers shiver in the breeze. I’m enjoying those BBQ smells found in every neighbourhood on every relatively sunny summer day. I’m relishing in the fact I can find halloumi on sale in every supermarket. 

The ease of seeing family has been a treat too. Older relatives I haven’t seen even via video call for years are now just a short drive away, sweet treats set out under cling film as they always were. Walks and games and car journeys and coffees with my parents are scattered about my days, and it just feels so damn good to be able to hug all these people I’ve been missing.

I’m transitioning in my career, too, though I’ll save the details of that for another post. For now I’ll say that I won’t be teaching next academic year and though I’m nervous for this huge change after teaching for the last 6 years, I’m excited for what my new role is going to bring. I hadn’t expected to find a job this quickly, having left Vietnam just weeks ago with nothing planned, but I’m thrilled to have been offered a role which seems to combine many of my passions. More on that later.

The transition back to the UK has been an easy one in many ways, because of all those things I was excited anticipating being able to do and those people I was desperate to see again. Despite a few bemused conversations with retail and waiting staff as I figure out the UK’s restrictions, it feels like I’ve never really been away.

And yet obviously I have. I spent three years in Vietnam, and haven’t been back to the UK for two. At times, it seems almost easy to forget that that’s happened. I don’t want to forget it. We were pretty certain it was the right time for us to leave (and still are), but they were three incredible years and easily ‘slotting back’ into UK life doesn’t mean they didn’t happen. My memories – and my excessive camera roll – prove that it did, so you can still expect more posts on here and on Instagram about Vietnam. 

And so, when people ask me, “Are you happy to be back?”, “Do you miss Vietnam?”, “Are you still pleased you lived there?”, the answer to all of these is a resounding “Yes!” That’s possible – probable even. In the flurry of goodbyes and hellos, packing and unpacking and settling back in these last few weeks has brought, there’s been a flurry of emotions too. I guess there will be in the next few weeks too, as we move to Norwich, I start my new job and say farewell to those beautifully long school holidays.

Moving to, and living in, Vietnam is probably the best thing I’ve done. I can see that moving back to the UK is a wonderful thing too. These transitions are big, confusing, exciting, nerve-wracking and a whole lot of other adjectives which ultimately describe life too. Life’s always transitioning in one sense or another, it’s just that this summer brings a lot of transitions all in one go. I’m excited to see where I’m at in a few months, but for now I’ll just enjoy the ebb & flow of it all (and the fact halloumi is so readily available here).

Niobe x

PS, you might like:

Moving back to the UK: What I’m looking forward to
One Month

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