Expat Confession: A South African Living in Vietnam

Moving abroad can be an amazing experience. If you’re considering a big move, hearing other people’s experiences can be a great confidence booster. Seeing someone else’s success story is a great way to start your research on living abroad. Mentor Travel is back with another expat confession. Meet Nicolette, a South African who has moved to Vietnam.

Nicolette at her home in South Africa

Nicolette’s Expat Confession on Living in Vietnam

Please introduce yourself, what’s your name, age, where you’re from, what languages you speak? How did you grow up?
My name is Nicolette C. from George in the Western Cape of South Africa.  It’s knows as the garden route in SA. I speak English and Afrikaans. And I’m 49 years old. 

Where’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to?
At this moment, I would have to say Peru. Even though it’s a third world country, but their quality of life seemed so much happier than first world countries I’ve been to. The people seem to be content with what they have.

What’s number one on your bucket list to travel to in the future?
Italy, I’ve always wanted to visit the Italian countryside and see the vineyards, mountains, and farm villas.

What was the final factor that made you take the leap to move abroad? What was it that turned it from a dream to reality?
Because my family was no longer with me in South Africa, I just felt that I needed to see and experience more cultures and ways of living before I get too old to travel (which is never).

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Where are/were you living abroad? What do/did you do to support yourself financially?
I’m in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. I live in an apartment with my brother. I teach English at a public school to local Vietnamese students.

What information do you wish you knew before you moved? Do you have any regrets?
I don’t have any regrets, and I think I did enough research to prepare myself for Vietnam. I was definitely not prepared for the amount of traffic  on the roads. But when I decided to go with the flow(pun intended), it didn’t seem so bad.

Are/were you able to travel while living abroad?
I would like to see as much of Asia as I can. I plan to have Vietnam as my base for the next five years, so I should be able to see a lot of the area because of how easy and cheap it is to travel. Where ever isn’t too expensive or difficult to obtain a visa to is where I hope to visit in the future.

What is your favorite part about living abroad? What is your least favorite?
I really enjoy experiencing a different life. My least favorite would be that I don’t have as much access to luxuries I was used to at home. Also, it’s not that it’s not available, it’s just more complicated and expensive to access.

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How has the cultural differences affected your life abroad? Are there any language barriers? Culture shock stories?
Obviously there’s a language barrier. But I try to overcome it by learning important phrases to help me get a round. And I haven’t experienced any culture shock so far. I’m a very accepting person, so the different cultures don’t bother me.

Did you notice anything unique about being a SA while living abroad?
I was really surprised by how many South Africans are living in Vietnam. My taxi drivers seemed pretty exposed to people from my country. 

What is your favorite memory you had while living abroad?
I think it’s meeting the group from the TESOL program, and the experiences with them. The TESOL program is a certification on teaching English as a foreign language. 

How has living abroad changed your life?
I’m far more relaxed. I feel more free because you feel committed to things in your own country and your own life. But, living abroad and experiencing different things, I feel forever on holiday. Now, I feel relaxed and at ease – a forever traveler. For example, I don’t stress about small details any more. 

Anything else you’d like to share? What are your final thoughts on living abroad you’d like to share with someone else considering it?
First of all, I know there’s a lot of people back home that see living abroad as a dream, and they just aren’t brave enough to take that step. If there is a possibility to move abroad, jump in. Just do it and don’t hold back. The experience is so amazing and you grow a lot from learning about other cultures and yourself as well. If you can, just do it.

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Now that Nicolette has been settling into Vietnam quite well. She’s only been in the country for two months so far, but loving every second of it. Make sure to check out our other expat confessions, and contact us if you have any questions for Nicolette or about moving abroad in general.

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