In the past week I have seen many articles concerning the influence of politicians service (or non-service) in Vietnam. Most recently, Richard Blumenthal claimed he served when actually he did not. During the presidential election of 2004 there was a big issue about the “swift boat” soldiers and to be honest, I forget what the controversy was and really do not feel like looking it up.
It has been three and a half years since I first came to San Francisco to work on the career aspect of my life. Things have gone according to plan, I’ve settled into a routine and time has gone quickly. In fact, this is the most time I’ve spent in once city in the past decade.
One of the most intriguing things about living abroad, is the learning experience of returning to your native country and seeing norms, institutions, daily life with fresh eyes, almost comparable to that of a foreigner.
In some ways, I feel as though I have more control over my own life now that I have lived abroad and can look at things in my native country more critically now that I have a basis for comparison. Instead of simply saying “Well, that’s just the way it is” or “It’s what everybody does” I understand that what is “the norm” here in the USA may be the complete opposite in another country.
America in the House!!! Last week one of the biggest socialites in Saigon had his going away party and the theme was to dress like someone from your country. Therefore, I decided to dress as someone from a “Red State” and although my state of Ohio turned out red this time, I think that was simply an irregularity as most people from Ohio are most excellent. Perhaps my costume could have been construed as someone from Michigan or perhaps Indiana.
I also ran into a few of my friends from the State Department who also happen to be on my darts team and when I explained the costume they just shook their heads in disappointment.. 🙂
Last night my good buddy and roommate packed up his stuff and left Vietnam, perhaps not to return. Axel was the guy I discovered Vietnam with as we both had studied in Tokyo together. He left the language program earlier than I, but we kind of understood that we would probably both see each other again in Vietnam sooner or later. In the August of 2004 I came to Vietnam and about 8 months later he finished up his MBA program and came to do some consulting work for our friend who owns a computer company. He stayed in the room just next to mine and now seeing that room empty, I can’t help but feel a little sad.