1. A legendary creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion; the head and wings of an eagle; and an eagle’s talons as its front feet. Griffins are known for guarding treasure and priceless possessions.
The Griffin has long stood as an emblem of the Philadelphia Museum of Art where we met as coworkers in 2014 and promptly became best friends and fell in love.
In 2016 we decided to temporarily pause our careers in the nonprofit arts sector to pursue a shared dream of living abroad for a year in order to gain the world-view of a different culture, have more time together, and be stretched in new ways.
After extensive research toward areas of the world where there is accessible employment opportunities for native English speakers, low-cost living, a safe environment, a mix of vibrant cities and beautiful nature, all set within a radically different culture, we discovered our match in Southeast Asia in the country of Vietnam.
We set forth in June, 2016 and spent our first month visiting the areas of Hanoi, Bai Xep, Saigon, the Mekong Delta, Hue, Hoi An, and Da Nang in order to determine where we would most enjoy settling into for the year ahead.
Following our exploratory travels, we spent five weeks in Hanoi where Mark completed a hardcore, month-long “CELTA” training program at Language Link and became certified to teach English as a second language, not only here in Vietnam, but throughout the world.
In August of 2016 we made our official move to Da Nang, a city nestled between the ocean and mountains in the Central region of Vietnam. Da Nang’s beautiful environs, friendly and welcoming community, fabulous seafood, lower population density, and proximity to hiking, snorkeling, and cultural destinations sang out to us as the place we wanted to call home here in Vietnam.
That same month, we very unexpectedly had to return home to the Philadelphia area after Mark experienced a medical emergency that led to the discovery of a large brain tumor in his left frontal lobe. While it was the most tumultuous five months of our lives, there was a wonderful outcome: A successful surgery at Jefferson University Hospital followed by radiation treatment eradicated the cancerous tumor. In mid-December of 2016 Mark’s doctors pronounced him healthy with an optimistic prognosis for the tumor to stay at bay, and green-lighted him to return to living abroad. We wasted no time in making our plans to return to Da Nang and the extraordinary people we’d met there.
We returned to Da Nang in February, 2017. Although we’d previously thought our time overseas would be brief, it quickly became clear that we were living our best lives here, and so removed the idea of a predetermined end-date. Mark now serves as the Academic Manager of Student Experience for Fisher’s SuperKids English Center. Robin provides marketing services for two Da Nang-based digital agencies: Seadev and Code Engine Studio, and volunteers for a variety of charities which has been very meaningful. We’re incredibly grateful to be living together in this stunningly beautiful part of the world where we daily meet amazing people from around the globe. You too would love it here. We’re ready to welcome you for a visit any time!
We invite you to follow our confusion, laughter, and awe as we summit the challenge of living as foreigners in Vietnam by following our blog and photos here on our travel website, along with our Instagram and YouTube pages which are linked in the above navigation menu. If you would like to receive an update when we post new blog entries, just enter your email into the “Subscribe” form located on the right (you can unsubscribe any time).
Thank you for traveling and learning with us on our adventure!
Robin & Mark
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