Thursday, September 27, 2012

Favorite seat in the meeting room

Once a week we have a meeting. When there are so many things to deal with we meet twice a week. Not always fun when staying at school all day for me. This is my favorite sitting place, between Mai (on my right) and Hanh (on my left) - 2 of the 7 vices. Mai's chair is next to me. Opposite of us are the dean and first vice :-) and the 3 other vices sit at the next table. Perhaps we sit like this because we often are on time for all meetings. Responsible vices.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New experience

As a person who teaches English as a second language, I always wish to have a chance to visit (at least) the UK and other English-speaking countries. But for me and a lot of people travelling abroad is luxury. However, I have a favor. A short holiday in London will be given to me as a gift. Great!!!  I feel really happy. My dream will come true. But first VISA application.

Under my friend's guide (who has a lot of experience applying for visas) I spent time visiting the UK Border Agency website and applied online first. I read and answer questions carefully and honestly. If I had difficulties I stopped and asked for help. And my application online was accepted. I had to make an appointment with the visa section of the UK Embassy in Hanoi a week later. Within 1 week I prepared necessary documents to submit. Thanks to the Internet, I could find out easily where to have my documents translated into English and certified. I thought it was a difficult week for me. :-) But it gave me a new experience. On Thursday I went to the Embassy. They asked me to submit the copy of the family book with translation and certification. I knew it in advance but I got the book just on Wed evening (not enough time for me). I accepted to get back one more time with the book. The staff also advised me to write a letter expressing in detail my purpose to London. The deadline was by 4 pm. I came back home. On the way, I dropped by the translation and I arranged to get the book by 2.30 pm. When I got home I wrote the letter. I thought no more worry when I got back to the Embassy at 3 pm with all the necessary documents. But the next morning when I was in classroom the visa section called me and advised me to change the time to visit London. She said my planned time was too far (over 4 months) and the UK just issued visas 3 months before my departure but it will be valid for 6 months (my planned time still within their permission). That meant I had to change my hotel booking and time in my letter. I could not do that at university because power was off. It was OK with the deadline they said 1 pm on Friday. We still taught but I knew we could go home earlier than usual because of no power. I still felt happy. That deadline I could meet. I stopped teaching at 10 and went back to the staff room to return the class file. Suddenly I was kidnapped to a meeting. I could not refuse. Although sitting in the meeting I felt as if I was on fire. Finally it finished at 11. I rushed home and changed hotel booking and letter and emailed them to the visa section. At 12.30 I rushed back to university to attend another meeting. What a day for me ;-).

As far as I read on the Internet, applying for a visa like my own situation was often not successful (travelling alone as a tourist). I told my friend that I hoped I would get the visa but not too upset if I would not for the first time. What I get from this is a life experience. If I failed I would know what to do to succeed for the next time.

When my visa work finished last Friday, I felt relieved. And within a week I got the Visa, and I felt so happy.

Just have good preparation, just open to other people's experience and advice and open to new things in life plus your little braveness, you can do what you think is impossible for you.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Like brother like sister

This is a photo of my 2nd brother and me. He was born in 1970, 5 years older than me. And I look most similar to him among my other siblings. He cares for me and always gives me a helping hand when I need assistance. Perhaps that is because I am the youngest in my family and I get on well with him most.

He lives with my mother and his wife and 2 daughters in a small house in the suburbs. Although his life is hard (not much income), he is happy with his small family.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Visit to Thang Long Citadel

Today is still our public holiday in Vietnam. I decided to take my son to visit Thang Long  Citadel which is open to the public recently. A nice place in a busy city. The old structures were destroyed, few relics are left. The city authority is planning to make the whole area a museum/park in the next few years. It will soon become a popular tourism attraction in the capital.

Long time ago, in the 12-14th centuries or so, there were palaces where kings lived. Then the French occupied and built French-style buildings. After that they were home to the Ministry of Defense. Civilians were not allowed to enter. Now the Ministry was relocated to somewhere else and people can go to visit some relics such as steps with decoration of dragons, wells, drainage systems, foundations and walls of old palaces. In some buildings built by French we can see meeting rooms with the chairs specifically seated by famous Vietnamese generals during the war with the American. Even a tunnel for them to avoid bombs.

I really feel satisfied with the visit. I know some more about the history. The citadel is not too crowded, clean, well-organised, with so many trees and plants and paved pathways and some rooms displaying antique objects are even air-conditioned, which makes me feel so comfortable.