Growing concerns about “expat” title

11 Jul

GROWING CONCERNS ABOUT “EXPAT” TITLE    I will officially acquire the “expat” title in just over two weeks. I will be an Australian living overseas. Living in Vietnam, to be exact. While I’m very excited to accept my new tagline, I’m not naive about the challenges it brings. These are my top concerns about living and working in South East Asia.

How will I maintain blonde locks in Vietnam?

Hair maintenance. I have blonde hair and have to admit it’s not natural. Bleaching is a risky business even in Australia, where fake blondes are running rampant. So how on Earth will I find a hairdresser in Vietnam with a trusty track record in bleaching? I’m almost certain I will end up with orange locks or little hair at all.

Language. Vietnamese is a tonal language, which means the meaning of a word depends on the pitch of its delivery. There are five different tones in the Vietnamese language. Therefore, I only have one in five chances of saying each work I speak correctly. I’m doomed.

Stomach bugs. A guy recently told me he lost 18 kilograms from a stomach bug in Vietnam. He did admit that he wasn’t taking care with his food intake though, eating anywhere and everywhere. As much as I would love to lose a few kilograms, I prefer to drop them in a healthy manner. So I will be eating fresh food at popular places.

Seafood. I’m allergic to seafood and fish sauce is a key ingredient in almost all Vietnamese dishes. Even vegetarian dishes often have fish sauce in them. The only way I can manage my seafood stress is to learn how to say “allergy to seafood” in Vietnamese, pack loads of allergy medication and keep Lomotil handy! If all else fails, I will eat Oreos for breakfast, lunch and dinner – they seem to be available everywhere.

The next steps. While I’m down to just a single backpack of belongings, it’s very tempting to continue travelling and working overseas beyond my assignment in Vietnam. The only problem is, besides missing family, friends and special events, there are too many great destinations to choose from.

By Marissa Toohey

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4 Responses to “Growing concerns about “expat” title”

  1. Alison July 13, 2010 at 6:15 PM #

    With the right attitude, you’ll have a wonderful time in Vietnam. It is very easy place to live.

    The people are great and many of them speak English, your organisation will provide translators when necessary. I know many expats who speak Vietnamese, it’s possible and the locals are very sweet about helping you 🙂

    The food is absolutely delicious, and there’s a wide variety. We’ve been going back and forth for a few years and never been sick.

    It’s not the boonies, hairdressers are everywhere, so are well styled blonde expats!

    There is a huge amount of support for expats, eg:


    • theBubbleBuster July 16, 2010 at 1:56 PM #

      Thanks very much for the tips Alison! I’m very excited to learn Vietnamese and think a language exchange buddy might be a nice way to learn and make a local friend. I’m sure I will settle in just fine 🙂

  2. Michelle July 15, 2010 at 11:56 AM #

    Well firstly I have to say the fact that your main worry is about ur blonde hair makes me laugh and so happy to know that it doesnt matter where you are you will still be the same Riss.
    I know you will have a ball and learn even more new and exciting things.

    Hopefully Jetsar keep up with the 2 for 1 to Vietnam and i will bring Candice and we will come and visit!

    • theBubbleBuster July 16, 2010 at 1:58 PM #

      haha I want to look good in my photos 😛 I’ll be keeping an eye out for cheap flights for you guys too! Hope to see you over there somewhere x

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