A family from California moves to Ho Chi Minh City. Hilarity ensues.
To celebrate the fact that we’ll be touching down in Ho Chi Minh City tomorrow, we’re offering a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure format for the inaugural blog.
The somber “the war hangs heavy” opening
A couple days ago I got my haircut at my (used-to-be) regular place and mentioned that I’d be moving to Ho Chi Minh City. The barber grunted about its beauty. “When were you there?” “The war.”
We’re moving to Vietnam. We’ve gotten rid of most of our worldly possessions and tomorrow we will travel ten time zones away with our going-to-be 3rd grader and kindergarten twins to a country that was the recipient of 7 million tons of bombs dropped by my country (more than twice the total tonnage dropped on Europe and Asia during all of World War II). We will raise our family there for two years.
As I was leaving, the barber told me that one of his colleagues is from Vietnam and fought on the South Vietnamese side. I moseyed over and chatted him up a bit, though our language barrier was a, well, barrier. I left no wiser, though feeling of a different era than my elders.
Who’s ready for the hilarity?
Learning about our family is your top priority
We’re your ordinary American family with 2.5 kids (but let’s go ahead and round up). Sarah is from Sacramento and chose UC Santa Cruz after high school, while Warren grew up on the other side of California in Riverside and went to UCLA. “So, where’d they meet?” you might be asking yourself.
England, obviously. They both studied abroad (and Warren certainly did study a broad if you know what I mean) at the University of Birmingham. Love blossomed in the chill of the Midlands.
After graduating back stateside they quickly got hitched, then rode the dot-com wave in the San Francisco Bay Area, enjoying free massages, laser tag, and a gifted motorized scooter as job perks. Life was good. Yet a more meaningful existence beckoned. After deciding on a long-term strategy of international teaching in Peru (see If you’d prefer a history of what brought us here), the pair headed down to UC Santa Cruz for their Masters in Education and teaching credentials, subsequently hopping up to Sacramento to get a job and buy a house before starting to pop ’em out. The Eldest joined the clan in 2005 and on Leap Day 2008 The Little Lady and The Big O completed the picture. During their tenure in Sacramento, Warren taught high school math (and dabbled in teaching history) and Sarah taught 4th, 7th, and 8th grades. The Eldest enjoys playing piano and figuring out innovative techniques for everyday activities, The Big O is always striking a handsome pose while posing astrophysical questions, and The Little Lady loves growling at strangers and cuddling (as long as it’s her idea). All the kiddos are now old enough to claim a season of little league under their belts. We’re pretty All American. In an international sort of way.
A history of what brought us here
We’ve known about the move for a few months, and despite what Sarah’s parents will tell you, we’ve been preparing both mentally and physically for quite a while. Here’s how it all began (insert dreamy flashback song here…).
13 years ago we took a belated honeymoon trip to visit Warren’s sister and her husband who were teaching at an international school in Lima, Peru. When we saw Amy and Doug’s school and heard their stories about their travels, expat lifestyle, and savings (!), we decided that someday, we would follow in their exceedingly smart footprints. Three years later, we had our teaching credentials and a long-term plan of “Kuala Lumpur 2013!” (Or other random major international city). We knew that we wanted to teach abroad when our youngest kid hit kindergarten (this was before we knew we’d get the twin pack on our second successful attempt at breeding). And so we bided our time.
The summer of 2012 was filled with us daring each other to start the process. We sent our resumes around the globe during Thanksgiving and winter vacations and were mostly given the cold shoulder. But it only took one bite.
We now have leaves of absence from our school district, have gotten rid of most of our cold weather clothes and household items over the course of three exhilarating garage sales, and the 10×10 storage unit is packed to the gills (do storage units have gills?). We shipped 2.38 cubic meters of belongings we could live without for six weeks, and have ten suitcases, 2 carry-ons, and five backpacks (totaling somewhere around 600lbs of our most important stuff) with us on the plane. We are officially ready to dive into the humid and frenetic life of big city Vietnam. Wish us luck!
(Saying goodbye to Sarah’s parents at San Francisco International Airport, just before skipping the country.)