Something that usually happens when living in another place/culture, weird things happen that you don’t like and then you want to go home. So, now I’ll relate two things that’ve happened over the weekend that made me just want to give up, throw in the towel, and go home. The first was on Saturday evening, and I had reluctantly agreed to co-teach some children’s English classes at the Center for Foreign Languages here at AGU. I went to the class and it wasn’t too bad, but there were literally hundreds of thousands of these damn little bugs everywhere attracted to the lights. They’re just tiny, but they fly around everywhere and in the morning are dead on the ground. So, I got through the class, and then I got a call from a friend to come hang out. I got on my motorbike and started driving, and sometimes I had to almost stop because I was squinting so much because of the damn bugs. Then, I met my friend, and we were sitting and watching the soccer game between Vietnam and Iraq. Then, the horror of all horrors happened. I had to answer the call of nature, and there was a bright fluorescent light in the bathroom. I went inside, and it reminded me of the show “Fear Factor.” The technical name for them is brown plant hoppers, but inside that small bathroom they were like something from hell. They swarmed all over me. They got inside my shirt and hair, and somehow even got under the souls of my feel. It was awful. I sent a text message to Lillian saying that I wanted to go home. And the next morning I stepped into the hallway to see thousands of them dead everywhere.
And then on Sunday I went to the supermarket here in town. I just had two things to buy, but of course there were only a few checkout lines open, so I had to stand and wait for several minutes. Finally, when I was next in line, I man just stepped in front of me and said something like, “I’m going first.” I really wanted tell him how rude he was, but realized that in this culture, I’d be the one who looks bad. I just don’t see how people can think it’s their right to go in front of someone else in line. I don’t care how much older you are or whatever. If there’s no emergency, then stay back and wait your turn. It was just a little thing, but that again almost made me snap and just want to leave this place.
It still isn’t too hot in Long Xuyen, which is nice and surprising, and I almost wish I was teaching now so that I could take advantage of the cooler classrooms. My dream of visiting Laos before I go home is also coming closer and closer to reality, which I can’t believe. It came down to arranging things with Rebekah, and at this point, things keep looking okay. However, it is unfortunate that I waited until now to visit Laos, because Ben and Alisa have already left Laos and are headed back to Canada via Europe. But I’m still giddy about the prospect of visiting one more country in Indochina…
Last night I couldn’t sleep. Last night the guest house was completely deserted. Last night I was the only foreigner on the campus of AGU. It started when I was looking at pictures of the past few months and realized some great times that I had here with this weird mixture of nationalities and personalities at AGU. Thinking back, there weren’t too many activities that I could actually list, but there was a presence of people to talk to about anything. Last night was the first night in about a year that no one came to my room to talk or hang out. And the rest of the house was completely deserted. It was roaring with silence in my ears, and then the knowledge that it was silent made louder in my head. Times change. Things don’t stay the same. But the memories are strong. Buong, my cat, was my company. He purred and licked my nose and fell asleep next to me. But I still couldn’t sleep.
Tomorrow is the final day of the An Giang University entrance exam. The general figures that I have heard concerning this exam is that about 18,000 students will take the exam, but there are only approximately 2,000 openings to attend AGU. Those aren’t very good chances for getting accepted, no matter how good a student you are.
The campus feels strange on these days; it’s very still during the testing hours, and I get angry glances from the guards if I drive too close to the testing locations. Today I decided that it would just be easier to walk out to the copy shop (it really isn’t that far anyways). I also heard that the completed–yet ungraded exams are not only kept under lock and key, but there are three police officers posted there around the clock. However, I’m glad that this over-dramatic show of security will be over tomorrow and hopefully I can move back to my real room. The place where I’m staying now isn’t too bad, but my motorbike has been having problems after sitting in the rain because there’s no garage, and there seems to be quite an insect problem too.
Here are the crowds of families, relatives and friends waiting for the people they know outside the university during the exam.
And then there was one…
Yep, it’s happened, the three others are gone, and I’m here with a cat and a computer. I went up to the big city with Steven for a couple days before his departure, and then spent a little time with a Swiss girl, Sabrina, who’s studying here in Long Xuyen for six months.
And, as far as other less-than-good news goes, an EMU student that was thinking about potentially replacing me has decided not to work here at AGU. So times are changing here at the foreign population here. If things continue on their present course, as I predict, that I’ll be the only single, male volunteer at AGU for these last six months of my time here. Speaking of that, I’m not sure if I mentioned it on this blog before, tentatively I’ll be home on December 21st, right before Christmas. Really, there are too many things going through my mind now to even grasp a hold of one and then make it (or them, as the case may be) come out as words.
This is what I’ve been listening to lately.