Well, it's finally happened! I have been accepted by a host family, and moved into my new home on Tuesday.
My family consists of Grandma (Ba), uncle/"older brother"/dad (Anh --), aunt/"older sister"/mom (Co Van), and two younger sisters, 12/13 and 14/15 years old (Vietnamese add a year to their ages...). One of my sisters is obsessed with Michael Jackson, the other with Miley Cyrus--clearly we have lots in common. The other night I watched (a terrible quality DVD) Twilight with my younger sister. She was shocked that I had not yet seen it, particularly since she had already seen it at least three times. I have a funny suspicion that I may learn more about American pop culture here in Viet Nam than I knew previously, having lived a somewhat pop culture-deprived life up till this point.
Co Van and my sisters speak English quite well, which has been very nice but could be a little too easy and potentially interfere with learning Vietnamese.
The house is quite nice, other than its lack of toilet paper (I have now rectified this situation). I have my own room, which is complete with a brand-new, matching, bright pink sheet set; a baby blue curtain; a pastel-colored windchime hanging in the middle of the doorway that I hit my head on every time; and, of course, a few christmas decorations for good measure.
My favorite thing about the location of my new house is that it is on the edge of Ha Noi; thus, it is in a relatively quiet neighborhood (other than the nearby construction that sounds, to me, like someone is pouring an endless bowl of lead cereal in the kitchen). Furthermore, it is close to fields, something I had forgotten the existence of since coming to Ha Noi! I have a had a few nice runs on the road next to the fields, where there is minimal traffic and less than half as many staring, "hallo!"-yelling people. In addition, I feel like I can breathe; apparently I can handle the smell of manure much better than that of bus fumes, cigarette smoke, and general pollution.
The downside to my location is that it is very far from everything except church. It's about a 25-minute bike ride to The Gioi, and about 40 minutes to school/MCC. Guess I'll be getting my exercize, which is great considering my family always seems to think that either
a) I cannot pick up food items with my chopsticks or
b)I am too shy to eat as much as my giantish stature requires;
therefore, they feel the need to pick up food items with their chopsticks and deposit them in my bowl, to try to convince me to take another heaping bowl of rice, and to buy me random pastries.
My favorite thing so far is seeing what's for breakfast. Ba prepares this meal for me, and so far I have had something different every morning: eggs, floating in oil, and a loaf of french bread; some kind of pastry with meat and tiny hardboiled eggs inside; grilled ground-meat sandwiches on very square, very white bread; milk from paper pouches--you name it.
So far, I have spent a lot of time here being, well...bored. My sisters seem to go to school/do homework pretty much all the time. I feel constantly torn between not wanting to seclude myself in my room, but not really knowing what else to do with myself. It is a challenge to be in a place where I do not know exactly what my place is; it is difficult to play a role when I do not know my lines.
However, it is a relief to be finally rid of the suitcases I have been living out of for the past month and a half. And even though I do not yet know what my role in this household is going to be, now that I am here I can at least begin the long process of discovering it.