|Backmans in Hanoi||
If you are a dog owner and move abroad you have to take responsibility and bring your little darling. I thought so, anyway. However, it has its drawbacks. To find out how to get a dog to Vietnam was not the easiest thing. Embassy of Vietnam in Stockholm did not know anything about the rules for entering their country with a swedish dog. They told us to contact the Swedish Embassy in Hanoi. We had already done that and they had referred to the Vietnamese Embassy in Stockholm. Back to square one. Eventually we found an animal hospital in Hanoi (Asvelis Veterinary Hospital - http://vietnampetservices.com) who knew the rules that apply. They were very helpful. They even have pickup service from the airport and veterinary checkup at arrival.
Practicalities such as give the boys healthy snacks to bring to school, ensure that they are doing their homework and arrive without problems to ASA (After School Activities) is my (Jocke) main focus these days.
Ruben goes to UNIS (United Nations International School). It seems to be the school (almost) everyone wants to attend in Hanoi. UNIS have amazingly good resources in terms of facilities and sports facilities, and the staff appears to be very good. Ruben has really acclimatized. It has gone beyond expectations. It may be because we was very clear and told him that the language sets limits for him and he should not expect to much at first. He goes to school with a smile on his face and return home the same. He seems to communicate with his new friends like it is the most natural thing to do. I´m so impressed.
Ossian did not get a spot at UNIS when there was no place in EAL class (English as an Additional Language). In the meantime, he has been at Concordia International School Hanoi. It is newly opened and that was really good for Ossian when there were only four students in his class. It gave lots of individual time with the teacher. Concordia seems like a great school. Tomorrow, 20th September, Ossian will attend grade 1 at UNIS. I´m looking forward to that. To have both boys at the same place makes everything easier. Not only for me but also for the boys.
Ossian has had a harder time at school and he thinks at times that it's boring. This is quite understandable as it is a new language, country, culture, climate, friends, etc.. He is so brave and goes on the school bus every morning (some days with great persuasion). Ossian really wants to be with the others at UNIS. All his friends from the Embassy and the Swedish camp is at UNIS and he felt left out.
He does, however, great progress in school. Although he never had English lessons at home in Sweden he reads English books in the evenings. His teacher, at Concordia, Mrs. Markin has many years of experience working with children who do not have English as their first language and she is very impressed by Ossian - "he is so intelligent," she says. In the little time they had together, he has learned more than any other children she had as a student. She has even told the EAL teacher that it will be difficult to keep up with Ossian's learning pace.
The children are very polite to Sinh (our maid), and they can now talk to her about their the day at school. It is quite amazing considering that he only have had four weeks learning english in school.
I have put myself to school. I intend to learn Vietnamese. This will probably take much longer than it does for the boys with the English language. I am so proud of them.
We have been here for 4 weeks now and everything is back to normal. As normal as it gets. At least for Carol and the boys. Carol has started working and the boys have started school. I (Jocke) will not work for 2.5 years which feels a bit strange. However, I will be in charge of the household. As much as possible anyway. We have a maid (Sinh) that does almost everything. We are so lucky to have her. She makes great food.
Our first time was spent waiting. Waiting for our lost luggage. Waiting for the house at Swedish Camp to be ready for moving in. And finally waiting to move back to a house at the embassy. The time we would have had to settle down just vanished. While we have been waiting we have mostly played with the boys. In the pool at the Embassy and then at the Camp. It has been so much swimming that both Ossian and Ruben got inflammation in the external ears. Very common among the children here at the Swedish camp as I understand. The boys are at least much better swimmers now than four weeks ago.
The container with our stuff will arrive within a few days. Then we can finally move into the embassy area and settle in properly. As it is, we have only a very austere set of utensils in the kitschen and we can not really have guests yet.
At first glance, Hanoi is only chaos. Traffic is completely insane and no rules seem to apply. The strange thing is that it seems to work. It is moving forward at a steady 25-30 km/h, almost all the time. It is like a river where the water (traffic) will take the path that creates fewest obstacles. Magnus one of the neighbors here at the Swedish Camp said - "the traffic is organic", and I agree. However, after hours in a taxi I am eager to go out there on my own. It feels a little hard to pay for a taxi when I could get from A to B by myself. I'm ready now. To rent a motorbike is only 300 SEK a month. Thankfully, one of Carols colleagues will give me some assistance to get my license and hopefully I'll have it within a month.
This will end the first post on this website. I will now have a cup of coffee and a piece of banana cake that was baked by Sinh. The best banana cake in the world.