A TEFL Teacher's Winter Tales

    Published in the ESL / EFL JobFinder -

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    THANKSGIVING

    Ah, turkey day. Time to stuff your face endlessly until the whole family passes out around the football screen. For those of you worried about lone little English teacher Danielle spending the holidays sad and lonely, fear no more. Hanoi rocks in the holiday season. All the fun of green and red everywhere, but none of the standard push to buy buy buy (unless you count the gum and Banh Mi vendors who seem to hound me at every corner). Thanksgiving was a different story, though, as a purely American holiday is sorely displaced in a city notably devoid of Americans.

    I let Halloween pass with only a slight whimper. Another Halloween abroad (sob, sob) left me feeling terribly let down. Too stubborn to let Thanksgiving meet the same fate, I invited my only other American friend in Hanoi, Kieran, to help me prepare the festivities. Turkeys are harder to find in Vietnam than a roasted dog in Ohio, so we settled for a balanced meal of 2 ducks, 1 chicken, and 5 pigeons. Yum! Pigeon!

    Part of the thrill of eating meat in Vietnam is watching all the animals be killed and feathered in front of you. Not for the light hearted, meal preparation in SE Asia. Kieran is a professional chef, so, for once, I took backseat to the food preparation and watched him work his kitchen magic....yum! bread stuffing, mixed greens, collards, bread, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, roasted yams, the whole
    works...

    Only 2 Americans out of 25, but somehow it felt amazingly like home. Perhaps it was the football game with a red cabbage by the lakeside that pushed it over the edge towards impromptu Americana. I asked the Vietnamese people at the party which western food they preferred. "The white one. It is very good." Mashed potatoes: one. Apple pie: zero...

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    FASHION ADVICE

    For those ladies trying to keep one step ahead of those hot East-meets-West fashions, let me fill you in on the next international showstopper: Peasant pajamas. The ultimate in ready-to-wear Hanoi style, a good sturdy set of pajamas go everywhere: bed to motorbike, motorbike to work, work to dinner party, and back to bed again. What more could you ask from a simple 2 piece, button down, elastic waisted garment? Matching an air of relaxed diffidence with the classic lines of a pantsuit, pajamas are soon destined for worldwide domination. Pajamas are available in a wide range of fabrics to meet your wardrobe's needs, from practical cotton-synthetic blends sporting posh teddy bear prints to high quality velvet in a muted winter palette. Just remember: pajamas aren't just for the bedroom anymore!

    Afraid of visiting Vietnam mid-winter and being mistaken for a classless backpacker (aka "tay bao lo")? They'll never make that mistake as long as you bear fashion's three golden F's firmly in mind: Feathers, Fur, and Fluff. They're not just for winter coats any more! No, feathers, fur, and fluff can be found on sweaters, tank tops, handbags, t-shirts, and trousers. If there is a square inch left on your body that doesn't scream "Touch me, I'm fuzzy," you've obviously forgotten the meaning of S-E-X-Y.

    The finest example of this high class Hanoian trend can be noted in a recent stream of debutantes sporting neon green, yellow, and pink fluffy rayon sweaters along with itchy chicken feather cuffs and collars. If those babies don't whisper infectiously, "Take me off, please!" I don't know what does.

    Concerned about road safety? Just do what the Vietnamese to to catch attention on the road. Mix and match. That's right, anything that mixes, matches. Teddy bear print shirt, hello kitty socks, sparkly silver jacket, striped trousers, and an orange and green plaid flannel overcoat on a man pushing 85, it's all good. I'd like to see orange reflective tape compete with that get-up for stopping lorries dead in their tracks.

    Finally, if you really want to wear your cutting edge, rebel personality on your sleeve, don't be caught without an @accessory. All over Vietnam, people are saying: "@ is where it's at!" From t-shirts to hairpins to plastic slippers to jackets, everywhere you could think of putting an @, you will find at least 12. To set yourself apart from the simple followers of fashion, be a trendsetter by buying the newest Honda scooter: The Honda @.

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    Danielle Fodor is a graduate of the Boland School Teacher
    Training Center (www.boland.cz/tefl). She is presently
    having a great time teaching English in Vietnam.

By Danielle Fodor