Being abroad can be exhausting. While living in a new country, with a new family, surrounded by new experiences, languages, and foods is incredibly exciting, it is also tiring. Since I’ve been in Vietnam, I have been struck by just how busy I am every day. When I am not filling my time with new sites to see or work to do, I am at my home-stay hoping to connect more and more with my host family. I am constantly aware of my surroundings and wanting to take advantage of every opportunity. All of this means that my mind is constantly running and I have yet to find space to relax.
After a long week of working on the guidebook draft for our internship, my team took a day to work remotely. I chose to head into Ba Đình district and find a coffee shop I read about, Manzi. I got off the bus and started heading toward the shop. Once I stepped on the street where Manzi is tucked away, I was struck with a sense of calm: There were no loud motorbikes or cars and people were sitting comfortably outside of their shops. It felt like a little sanctuary in this busy city. As I passed through the gate that leads up to Manzi, the term sanctuary became even more fitting: Manzi is a quiet, open space filled with natural light and soft music. The first level of the shop is a cafe with a few tables where I found people working. Upstairs, the space becomes an art gallery with beautiful works from local artists. I found a cozy nook to sit in and worked on peer editing my teammates’ guidebook sections while sipping cà phê sữa đá.
It was in this space that I realized just how exhausted I had been feeling. Due to the constant happenings in my life here, I have been neglecting my time to recharge. Finding this sanctuary was exactly what I needed.
It can be very easy to get caught up in taking full advantage of being abroad ,but this does not mean you should neglect your time away from it all. Being able to find calm in my bustling day-to-day life helped me feel more prepared to find space in my final few weeks here in Hanoi. With my little sanctuary of Manzi, I feel even more excited to dive in to finding all Hanoi has left to share with me.