This is a new beginning. The working week is almost over and I am still alive. It has been very interesting to enter the scene and I have been welcomed with eager.
I found a cheap room in the center for 7usd/night incl fan, TV and refridgerator (yes, Hanoi is an expensive city, in other cities I've paid around 4 usd/night). I bought a bicycle and I know where I get food so I'm stationed.
Work has been interesting sofar. Apparently I'm the first intern the WHO Vietnam has had. That explains some of the hassle with my employment. The international staff changes a lot. My supervisor, Sylvain, has been here only for 3 months and he was the one initiating the internship procedure. Sylvain is a funny guy. He is French, a tall version of Mel Gibson. During the past 18 years, he has not stayed in one place for more than 3 years. Now he's already planning where to go next, probably Geneva or Africa. The assistant I share room with, Minh Ly, is giggling all the time but she is very professional. They both work 12h every day, sometimes Sylvain is here weekends as well. Crazy people..
Working here look good at least on the outside. I've already participated in several meetings and we've been driven there by our personal driver in a Toyota Land Cruiser. Naively, I love it when I'm going anywhere in my office clothes and tourists and locals alike stare at me. I love eating at a food stall in my skirt and say no to a motorbike taxi because I have my own transport. Stupid things really, but I love acting local.
You should hear the language they use here. Fine words and abbreviations. Thousands of them! Guess how many 3 letter abbreviations the UN has! 17 576!!! And they are used frequently. So, listening to people can sometimes be difficult because you have no idea what they're talking about. It's like learning a new language, really; trying to learn the most common abbreviations and to use them fluently.
In a good WHO style, condoms for men are distributed everywhere in the WHO building in two sizes as well as the special ones for women. The HIV/AIDS workers have sterile needles surrounding them.
These are the bits and peaces of my first week in Hanoi. During the weekend I'm going to be a tourist and tour around with my new bicycle (the Vietnamese colleagues couldn't understand why I didn't buy a motorbike). Have a nice weekend, guys!