An Nguyen, from Vietnam, is a freshman majoring in Biochemistry at Bellevue College in Washington State.
Why did you decide to study in the USA?
I have always been intrigued by the reputation of U.S. education and I couldn’t wait to experience it for myself. In addition, I have always desired to expand my network to connect with all people around the world, studying in the USA is fulfilling that goal.
Why did you choose Bellevue College?
From the first time touring the campus, I could see myself fitting well into this great community. Being ranked by Yahoo Finance as one of “15 Fantastic Higher Education Values,” Bellevue College has a great location and an excellent environment.
What do you like best?
Bellevue College has the best academic and leadership programs! They have small classes with inspirational and knowledgeable instructors who wish for every college student to do well. And there are over 90 clubs and programs available for students to get involved and build their leadership skills.
What do you miss most?
Family. Although we are 7,156 miles apart, they are always in my heart.
What was your biggest surprise?
The environment requires people to learn and do a lot of things by themselves. At the same time, there are lots of resources available to students like the writing lab, reading lab and science lab to help students achieve their best.
... your biggest disappointment?
Because everyone has to focus on his or her own life and work hard, it is more challenging to interact with people. For example, it is harder to know your neighbors.
How have you handled: ... language differences?
I’ve been in the U.S. since 2010. At first I was shy to speak English. Being immersed in the language and culture gave me ample opportunity to practice. It’s important to go out of your comfort zone and practice! Now, I feel I can speak quite fluently. Although, once in a while, I’ll say a Vietnamese word in the middle of the conversation.
I feel extremely blessed to have my parents taking care of the major expenses. Also I work on campus and that helps to cover some living expenses.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
It was not easy but doable. In Vietnam, I attended a school for gifted students. I had to attend additional classes to keep doing well in school. In the U.S., I had to do more research and self-guided study in order to understand definitions and concepts. But it has helped me develop new skills.
What are your activities?
I am one of the lead coordinators of the PALS Center, which stands for Peer Assisted Leadership through Service. PALS Center is the center connection between students and campus resources.
I am also the communications coordinator of the International Student Association. We organize cultural events and activities such as the Halloween Dance, Lunar New Year Celebration, International Night and so on.
How easy or difficult was making friends?
It really depends on your personality and interests. At first, it might seem impossible to get along with anyone, but once you overcome the language barrier, it’s much easier. Everyone is very approachable and out-going that you can literally start the conversation, or even a friendship, while waiting for a class in the hallway.
How relevant is your U.S. education to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
I have been nurturing a dream of becoming a food scientist in the future. I want to work closely with food processing and safety to ensure the proper nutrition and diet for everyone, especially for my fellow Vietnamese.
The discipline in U.S. education has taught me to value our work and others’. Living and studying in the United States has really improved my communication skills as well. I feel now comfortable speaking in large groups of people or even giving a public speech. I believe these skill sets will be valuable to me in my future career and life in general.
What is your advice to other students who are considering a U.S. education?
Be yourself and get out of your comfort zone to learn new things from other people. There is always something new to learn about everyone you interact with. At the same time, work hard towards your goal to achieve it. Because people will not believe the words you say if your actions do not match.
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