Saigon Stories – My fellow students – Irritations in Saigon

As I mentioned in the previous post, I’m studying Japanese here in Ho Chi Minh city. All the other students are Vietnamese and it’s really interesting to study along side them. The foreigners here in Saigon usually only interact with the Vietnamese at work, or with those who work in the bars, but rarely get to see the other side of them. By studying Japanese with them, I’m able to communicate in a language other than English and understand that they are going through the same hardships trying to learn another language.

They really are a wonderful people and the way they pronounce Japanese words is really cute. Instead of a crisp “Irrashaimase” as the Japanese do, it comes out “Irrasaimase” They cannot pronounce the “shhhhhhhhh” as the sound we make in English when we want someone to be quiet. Instead it comes out as “Sai” or the sound we make when we say “Site” without the “te” at the end.

I spoke about irritations when one needs a break in the last post. One more irritation today would have been the looks I get going into a school that is all Vietnamese students. Instead of a “hello” and then wondering if I will respond like a monkey to a bananna, it would be a “konbanwa” and astonishment that a white man can speak a language usually reserved for Asians.

Again, life usually isn’t like this, it’s just that I’m way overdue for a vacation.

Ok, one last irritation and then I’m done I promise. Sometimes foreigners get tired of the mistakes other cultures can make when trying to be polite. Really they mean well but it’s just a stupid irritation my stupid brain reacts to negatively. For example, I went into a major international company today and had to wait for the person I was supposed to meet. The receptionist said “I’m sorry, may I have your name?” “I’m sorry, can you please wait?” “I’m sorry, can you take a seat?” I didn’t want to sit down so just acknowledged what she said and remained standing. Then thirty seconds later she repeated “I’m sorry, can you take a seat?”

At that point I just wanted to say “Stop being sorry, and no I don’t want to take a seat!” Sounds stupid huh. It is, and is just proof I need a vacation. The other one is the overuse of “Please” When they want you to do something they will gesture and say “Please, please.” After hearing “Please, please” over and over every single day, it can make you want to bang your head against the wall. Maybe it’s difficult to understand for people who have not experienced a long term overseas stay.

Oh my god!!! At the moment I’m writing this, I’m watching “Everyone loves Raymond” and his mother just went berserk about Raymond’s overuse of “at” as an end of a sentence. She just said “Is this the end of civilization!!!” and then went on to scold Raymond about his education. I guess anyone can get upset about these things and proves that there is a higher power up there who makes these coincidences happen. Weird huh.

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! \(^.^)/