During my junior year of college, I studied abroad in Hanoi, Vietnam. While I studied abroad in Hanoi, Vietnam; I met one of my best friends. I know what you are thinking, how did I meet my best friend in a country that I didn’t know how to speak the language? How did I get so lucky to have met an English speaker in a café?

One day, I walked in the middle of a black street around a huge blue lake called Haom Kiem Lake in a city called Hanoi. I walked along these streets and was looking for this amazing café I heard about. I walked pass a brown bridge and a Roman church while music streamed in my ears. I turned left past shops filled with tapestries and colorful elephant pants. I saw the café right near a magical white church.

I walked towards the cafe with black and white tiles, black tables, a menu written in English and an outside area filled with rocks at the bottom of my feet. I sat down at a black table with black chairs and pulled out my Vietnamese homework. I looked at my homework for hours as I tried to comprehend these new sounds. I wanted to learn Vietnamese so I could get around in a country where no one spoke English. Every time I tried to speak Vietnamese, gibberish came out. I decided to give up for today.

I looked around the cafe and saw a short girl with black hair and a superman shirt.  She told me to come over and share the table with her. She told me her name was Chi and that she is from Vietnam. She explained that she has been living in Vietnam her whole life and she taught herself English when she was fifteen years old. She told me that she came from a traditional Vietnamese family where she was told that she needed to be a nurse by her parents at a very young age. She decided to go against her family’s wishes and live out her dream of becoming an architect. She decided to pay for college by herself and receive her first degree in architecture. She asked me what I was doing in Hanoi. I told her that I wanted to study abroad in Hanoi, Vietnam. I explained that I have travelled all around Europe and that I never explored a country in Southeast Asia. I told her that I learned so much about why Vietnam stayed a communist country in college. I wanted to experience first-hand how Vietnam survived after the war and see the places where the war had happened. I wanted to stop listening to history books and other people’s opinions of Vietnam. I told her I wanted to create my own opinion about Vietnam’s culture, people, life, and history. She smiled at me and asked me if she could show me around the city. I told her sure.

 

I walked outside and saw a black and silver motorcycle. My hands were shaking and my heart raced at a million beats per minute. I decided to jump on. Chi drove fast through cars and bikes that all drove in one lane. She drove past white buildings, blue shops, past black bars that surrounded a blue and black lake. We stopped at a bike store. After we got on our bikes, she said to me, “I need to show you the gold gems of the city and we need explore Hanoi for what makes this city unique.”

 

We biked along this long blue lake passed trees, down black roads while the red, orange, yellow pink sun shined through brown trees while we stopped to take a picture. We stopped in the vast of a silver bridge, gold lights streamed from all sides, while we both stood there and smiled at each other. I had no idea that this city was filled with golden keys that open blue bridges that showed me the true lights that sparkled inside black buildings, inside golden bridges, and inside blue black lake that surrounded this city. I had no idea that I would be exploring the most magical city where gold shined in my eyes. We rode our bikes and I knew that I had just met my best friend.