By Quy Nguyen_Cookie (Vietnam)
(This is my second YEALI blog and maybe my last blog on Facebook. Sorry for all friends waiting for my “Quy and Blog” Page!)
This blog was written with my heart locked in Missoula, my brain sometimes worked facing the culture shock when moving from Missoula to New Orleans )
Being on 2 flights to New Orleans, I cried a lot
Stopping the conversation with Tuyen Pham on the phone, I cried a lot
Listenning to the songs for YSEALI from Peter, I cried a lot
Walking along Mississippi River, I cried … a lot
I haven’t prepared to say Good bye yet, I haven’t said the word Good bye to anyone yet…
When being asked the question “Who volunteers to write the blog today?”, I raised my hand in a heartbeat though at that moment I was deadly tired. I wrote my personal blog every day but right at this moment I am not ready because it is gonna be sad. (After this blog maybe I needed a long time to start writing again). I have heard a lot about the beauty of New Orleans, I was so excited to see Mississippi River, I was touched by the story of Hurricane Katrina and hoped to discover that land. I longed for one day standing in a big street in the US,…. Yes it came true but I was so sorry because when being in New Orleans, my heart literally did not go with my body.
I tried so hard on the last day in Missoula to keep my smiles, to forget my hurting legs, my sickness, my family problems, my stressful final school year back home and especially my sadness missing Missoula but being on the flights to New Orleans, I could not stop thinking and crying. From the morning time I got up at 4am to prepare, to say thank-you to beloved and familiar faces in the Comfort Inn and wrote a short note for them. The most important reason I loved Missoula so much…. because I always felt home there and never did I think I was living in the US during the time there. I was myself to discover, to engage, to enjoy and to be a person I was supposed to be.
I was so thankful for everything we YSEALI fellows were given in Missoula. I was so grateful for your support Dr Len, Dr Nicky, Deana and Mel. Thank you very much my dearest GTAs, Nick, Shanti, Peter, Sam, Pat and Mercedez with your encouraging words and great support! Thank you my beloved families! Thank you my UM friends! Thank you for everything!
Finally we were in New Orleans
The first day without you, I tried so hard to keep my body moving without my heart. Everything was a big contrast. I wanted to sleep for a while after check-in at Aloft hotel, 225 Baronne Street, but I cried instead of sleeping. I knew that every beginning had an ending but this was the first ending ever totally locking my heart. I was captured almost sad moments (picture from Queenie)
And many times… Cookie, wake up! Cookie, Look at your face! Quy, where is your smile? And whenever I “woke up”, The culture shock began!
My neck hurt because I tried to look at the top of super tall buildings, which also meant no mountains to hike and no sunrise or sunset moments to enjoy. The street was crowed and people were busy, kept quickly moving and talking. That was marvelous, not as simple as Missoula. That was, exactly what I imagined about the US before my departure to America and Missoula changed my mindset with wonderful mountains and super-friendly people. Now I saw a different angle of Southern American life .
We walked to Mississippi River with Dr Nicky, Mel and some fellows. I thought about the Adventures of Huck Finn – a 1993 American adventure film with touching moments and lessons learnt about Racism and Slavery, hypocrisy of “Civilized” society… I was amazed listening to street Jazz music everywhere but a bit scared by the appearance of some people wearing strange clothes. There were lot of horse tours on the street and the weather was much much hotter than that in Missoula. We visited some art and souvenir shops as well… The prices were more expensive and we, of course
needed to pay tax. I started to get confused.
We then had dinner at 801 Royal French Quarter thanks to suggestions of Mel. The seafood was so appetizing. I and Queenie chose the recommended dish after asking the waiter (Fried Shrimp Po-Boy) but to be honest, the food was a bit salty. After tasting other fellows’ dishes, I recognized it was salty with almost the food there and when I asked the waiter, he happily explained because it was local seafood taste.
Fried Shrimp Po-Boy
Then we walked around to enjoy beautiful buildings, which looked like Royal palaces. If in Missoula, I was captured by maroon colors and “Go Griz” message, being here, I was impressed by the state flower “Fleur de Lis”, which could be seen everywhere.
I saw a T-shirt with the word “I know why I miss New Orleans” and suddenly realized that New Orleans also impressed me a lot but just my heart still got lost in Missoula.
Enjoying Café Du Monde with Beignet was one of the must-do things in New Orleans. The taste was so special and no words to describe. Going to French Market, I was a bit scared and wondered whether or not people were as friendly as those in Downtown Missoula… And I realized that maybe the hustle and bustle of life made them busy sometimes but a lot of nice and friendly people were there. Luckily I meet a Vietnamese man selling craft products there for a very long time knowing almost people in the Market. He was so happy to meet Vietnamese and when I wanted to buy anything, he introduced me to his friends who sell those things that I was his friend and they even did not sell them but gave me free. I was so surprised and I tried to put money in their hands being thankful for their kindness.
I knew that being in Missoula or New Orleans with such big contrast, but wherever I went, I always found something special to love and some touching moments to remember. That was why my friends, even some YSEALI fellows said “Cookie has too much love for everything and no love for (even destroy) herself” LOL.
Finally I ended my first day in New Orleans with my smile (Thanks for encouraging me to smile)
Thank God Cookie can smile again!
But tears are dropping on my finger typing these words now and… listening to music for YSEALI from Peter. Deep down in my heart now is the big love for Missoula and a ready-to –love feeling for New Orleans.
My last blog!
Cookie- Quy Nguyen