From Sheffield to Hanoi

Here’s an insight into our lives prior to moving to Hanoi. So, on the off chance that you’re reading this and you’re neither of our mums…

We’re a 25 and 27 year old couple from Yorkshire (albeit different parts), England who’ve managed to end up planning a move to the other side of the world.

Glastonbury Festival 2016

I (Abi) followed the most conventional path possible. I tried really hard and worked tirelessly to earn my A-Level grades which got me a place studying English Language and Linguistics at the University of Sheffield.

Aged 18, this was a huge deal to me, and the thought of moving all the way to Sheffield from Pontefract (30 miles/ 48km) was really daunting.

I did it though, and once again worked tirelessly to earn a 2.1 in my degree and a place on the PGCE Secondary English teaching course. At this point I started to figure out who I was, I think I was 22 when I became a somewhat adult. I moved away from what was comfortable: I left a 6 year relationship; started exercising; did well at work and started living the best parts of my life to date.

Lagos, Portugal

Matty pretty much followed a similar path, if you replace “worked tirelessly” with “worked mildly”. The point is that he did his A-Levels and went to uni.

Things were a little more spiced up on Matty’s uni front compared to mine though. He was lucky enough to have family in Lagos, Portugal – an unsuspecting combination of a fishing town turned backpacker’s hotspot. Having spent the summer working for his Aunt’s bar, he met a variation of young backpackers from different walks of life.

An opportunity to teach English in South Korea was on the cards upon finishing uni, but despite his Portuguese taste of the traveller lifestyle, it never came to fruition. This near-TEFL experience was followed by a string of monotonous call centre jobs and bar work for a few years, before settling into a role in social media which he’s pretty good at. From Matty’s perspective, he was taking life as it came but remaining deep inside his comfort zone.

Sheffield Half Marathon 2017

Fast forward a couple of years and I re-connect with a uni friend whose flatmate at the time happened to be Matty. The pair of us got talking about food and over a year later we’re still talking about it (amongst other topics).

It became clear pretty quickly that we make each other very happy, whilst simultaneously pushing each other to be the best that we can be. We support and challenge each other effortlessly and have a great time while we do it.

We both spent the first part of the relationship worried that things felt a little bit too good and it would all accidentally come crashing down, but eventually we accepted that sometimes people can just genuinely be suited to one another, and that admiration can be both mutual and sustainable. Don’t burst our bubble, Hanoi.

Lamai Night Market

So, during the “please don’t realise that I’m just an average person” phase last summer, we decided to go on our first holiday together as a couple, to Thailand, and we loved every second. We desperately didn’t want to come home, and although a move abroad isn’t comparable to a holiday, it started to become apparent that not only was moving to Asia something that we could do, it was absolutely something that we should do.

Without even realising it, we were completely on the same page about where our lives are going and what experiences we want to have while we are still essentially free of responsibility.

For me, it was like a huge weight had been lifted. I knew that with Matty by my side I could now do the things that had always previously seemed a little bit too scary. For Matty, being in Thailand triggered the previous travel ambitions he held five years ago and with my support he finally felt that it was the right time to take the leap of faith and book a one way ticket.

Sheffield, we love you, and we may be back one day. In the meantime, bring on Hanoi.

Matty and Abi 👫✈️🇻🇳 x