In response to various questions, I have decided that it might be helpful for me to write a brief overview of what a typical week looks like for me in Hà Nội.
Get up at 5:30. Run to tennis court (don't be impressed--it takes about 5 minutes). Alternate playing tennis and watching Cô Vân and Chú Hùng play until 7:00. Run home.
Eat breakfast, provided by Chị Hải (house helper) or Bà (Grandma). While sometimes I wish I could just make my own breakfast, I usually enjoy being surprised each morning (the last three days, breakfast has included corn-on-the-cob. Why not? I don't mind.)
Ride bike about 25 minutes to Thế Giới Publishers. Change from sweaty biking clothes to professional work clothes.
Edit English translations, with occasional breaks for chatting with Hannah or drinking coffee at the cafe next door.
Lunch at Thế Giới canteen.
Nap/Rest time. Yeah, we even have fold-out cots!
Supper with the family.
Leave at about 7:45 for the 40 min bike ride to school.
Morning: Vietnamese class with Alicia and our teacher, Cô Giang. We have a book that we use for about half of the 3-hour session. For the other half we maunder through various subjects using what I like to call "Vinglish." Boyfriends are a hot topic; Twilight came up once, as did American Girl Dolls; Cô Giang often recommends the best places to eat phở and mỳ vằn than, and informs us which Friday of the month is the ice cream buffet at Fanny's (on my list of things to do before I leave Hà Nội)!!
Lunch at MCC Office.
Work at Thế Giới in the afternoon.
Ditto Monday, minus the tennis.
Also, after supper I go to Bible Study at the home of a family from church.
Early-morning tennis, then ditto Tuesday.
Morning at MCC Office: This is a time for me do things that I need to do (ie--financial reports, check email, write blog entries for you...) and build relationships at the office. Last Friday I went with Cô Thu, the MCC cook, to the market to buy food for lunch. I loved it! It reminded me of going to the farmers' market in Grand Rapids, except for the raw meat being carved up all around and the live snakes, fish, and caterpillars wriggling around in their tubs of water...
Lunch at MCC.
About half the time I go home after class. Other times I meet friends at the Bia Hơi across the street for cheap, good food and entertainment (this is the site of the rat incident I mentioned in a previous entry).
At first, this was my least favorite day of the week. My whole family is gone most of the day (my sisters have school), and I pretty much sat around the house. I discovered that too much inactivity leads Calah to too many longing thoughts of home and to what I guess might be called...homesickness? So now I try to fill up at least half of my day. Examples:
-Last Saturday Derek and Ana invited Hannah, Ali, Joel, and me over for an evening of gluttony and card games--it was glorious.
-Often I bike along my favorite road, a very scenic and--for Hà Nội--quiet one next to West Lake. It is home to a plethora of cafes, so I usually pick one and get my whole less-than-a-dollar coffee's worth by sitting and reading for hours.
-One Saturday, I headed downtown and met Alicia to peruse various hotels in preparation for our parents' upcoming visits. Then we met Hannah for delicious bowls of my favorite kind of Vietnamese soup, got ice cream, looked around the shops. Good times.
-I recently discovered a running club that meets on Saturday afternoons. I have only gone once so far, but this may become a regular addition to my Saturday schedule.
Sleep in (for me) or go for a run.
Eat lunch with friends from church--usually at Foodshop 45, a great Indian restaurant close to church (and my house)--unless my family is having a special extended-family lunch, which they often do on Sundays.
Participate in the last half hour of my sisters' 3-hour English lesson in the evening. Their tutor usually gives us a topic to discuss in English. Then my sisters write short essays in English while I write one in Vietnamese.
So, there you have it: A small glimpse of my typical week in Việt Nam. Of course, my schedule may change considerably when:
1) my family moves (on Saturday!).
2) my Vietnamese classes decrease to once weekly I begin working 4 full days a week at Thế Giới.