The search for an apartment/house continues. So far I have seen 3 different places, each with their own benefits and drawbacks, but so far nowhere that I can see myself being comfortable for a year. Normally I would just rent for a month or two and leave when I found someplace better, but most places require not just a secutiry deposit but also 3 months rent, and I'm just not ready to make that kind of commitment to a place I don't really love. There is one apartment that is fairly close to work, but it is only a single bedroom, a bathroom, and a shared kitchen with the other apartment on my floor. Now I wouldn't normally think this is a bad thing, but what they are charging me is absolutely outrageous. 9 million dong (1. I still giggle every time I say the name of the currency and 2. That is about 400 dollars, which is a ridiculous price for just a bedroom even in the states) is just too expensive. Especially considering option #2. #2 is a house with three bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and 1.5 bathrooms for the low low price of 6.5 millions dong (still funny). The downside of that place is it is far from work, my only form of transportation right now is walking or a cab (which are fairly pricey), and it was incredibly dirty. Ridiculously dirty. I almost passed out when I opened up the fridge (which still had an old 7UP bottle and some melted butter inside. Seriously, if you are about to show a house clean it up). I normally would jump at a deal that good, but the drawbacks are just to large. House number 3 had the price of 7 million dong (giggle), but was fairly small, lacked a bed, and didn't have a stove in the kitchen, only a hot plate. The benefit, however, was that it was only 2 blocks from work. Another major downside was that the staircases were incredibly narrow, and I can just see myself coming home from a late night, missing a step, breaking my neck, and not being discovered until I missed a shift at work. There is a fourth option that I have not seen yet, but a decision needs to be made soon, as I'm going a bit crazy at the hotel.
Housing issues aside, everything else has been getting better. I've had some quality time with my coworkers, and am getting along with them much better. As it turns out, much like me, they have a work persona and an everywhere else persona. The difference is their work persona is much more held back than my own. One of my coworkers has invited me to dinner at his house this week, which I am really looking forward to. His girlfriend is Venezuelan and lived most of her life in Spain, and she said she would could me a Tortilla Espanola and would look into making some other tapas from Spain that I had mentioned I love. I bonded quite well with his girlfriend a few days ago, and we spent some time chatting in Spanish, which oddly enough made me feel much more at home (I miss you my Peruvian friends!). My other coworker has been very supportive at work, and while he might be incredibly dry I blame that mostly on the fact that he is South African more than he is a dick. Seriously, Adrian and those who know him, he is 15 times dryer than you. Perhaps you have picked up a bit more ability to display your sarcasm since you've been in the states for so long, but I seriously have no idea when he is joking and when he is serious. As for my boss, he has been nothing but supportive and is a joy to work for.
We had someone from the corporate office in Hanoi come to our school last weekend. They observed classes and gave feedback, which was a bit nervewracking since I've only been teaching here for a week. However when it came time to get my feedback I felt much better. I got some great compliments from him and my boss, and they were really pleased with how I was handling my classes. They were both very impressed with my repoire with my students, and both mentioned how impressive it was given my limited time with the students. Most of you know I have no issues with me ego, but it's nice to have my confidence in my ability validated by an outside party, especially since I haven't been my confident self in the last week.
Honestly, I had a bit of a breakdown last Saturday. I never got culture shock in China, and Peru was fantastic, but it has been a bit of a struggle here and I was beginning to doubt myself. But after spending some quality time with coworkers and after getting my reviews, I'm more confident in my decision. It's not always easy, but I knew I needed a bit of extra help this time, I asked for it, and I got it from the people here.
That is about the most that has happened lately. Thanks to everyone who has been keeping touch either through facebook or e-mail. A lot of your updates came when I was feeling really crappy on Saturday, so well timed there. I hope you all are enjoying the snow, and I'm glad to see a lot of you got days off from it. The weather here has been nothing short of perfect so I'm glad you are at least being treated to the joys of snow while it is cold. Just know that when the snow melts but the freeze continues, I will be laughing in a T-Shirt.
Lots of Love,