Why did you decide to study in the USA?
Because of its multicultural environment, quality education, and world renowned academia, I decided to study in the U.S.
Why did you choose this particular college or university? What attracted you about your school?
One of the main reasons that I chose the College of Central Florida (CF) as my institution was related to its location. I lived in Ocala, FL, so it would be convenient for me to commute from home to the institution. As I studied there, I discovered wonderful things about the college, including its talented professors, excellent advisors, friendly and motivated students, and overall a marvelous experience.
What do you like best about your program or university?
The best thing that I like about the institution is that the college does offer the bachelor degree for some certain programs. I am studying nursing, and it was a blessed experience transitioning from an ADN to a BSN without relocating to a new campus. Plus, the college tuition would be much more affordable compared to a university.
What do you miss most about home?
I miss my family and my relatives in Vietnam. I came to the U.S ten years ago, and I have not yet got the chance to travel back to Vietnam. I am lucky that I have my parents and one of my sisters here; however, in the future, I hope that the right time would come, and I would then see the rest of my family and relatives in Vietnam.
What was your biggest surprise about U.S. life and education?
The big surprise was seeing how nice and understanding the teachers and professors could be. I have not yet encountered a bad one in the U.S., and I have already crossed my fingers after saying that. I feel that the professors in this country are empathic, understanding, compassionate, courteous, and are trying their best to put their students to think outside the box, which I think is a significantly necessary skill to learn in real life.
... your biggest disappointment?
The biggest disappointment for me would be the inadequacy of financial aid for international students. It was challenging for me to find scholarships that could qualify international students as the applicants. Scholarships should be more widely available and easily accessible to all students, regardless of their residency status, as long as the status is legalized.
How have you handled:
... language differences?
It is important to be proactive rather than reactive. I had to step out of my shell to start a conversation and maintain that conversation. I made mistakes, especially in the grammar and pronunciation, but I learned from those mistakes after making them several times. No one is perfect, and no one will expect me to speak the language without an accent. I still speak it with a strong accent; however, in my opinion, it is the effort that counts.
It is challenging for international students to find work outside of the institution’s campus, related to the visa restrictions. If that is the case, then try to look for work on campus. I worked as a tutor for a year before graduating with my two-year degree. I enjoyed working in the library as a tutor since not only I continued to strengthen the subject’s topics but also I got to know various tutor friends with different accomplishments and dreams.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
Although I have mentioned that the professors in the U.S. are understanding, compassionate, and courteous, I always make sure that I still carry the accountability and responsibility. When I did not understand something in the paperwork or the course curriculum, I always directly came to see the advisor or the professor accordingly. I also tried to talk to some other international students and how they approached the different educational systems. The process of learning the best approach and implementing it is the best intervention to handle a situation.
What are your activities?
During my two-year program, I participated as a member in the Phi Theta Kappa and International Club. I enjoyed being a member in both of the programs. Not only did I learn more about my local community and help improve the functionality within that community, but also I learned about different aspects of cultural appreciation and development.
How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?
It was not a challenging process for me to make friends in the U.S.; however, the process requires one to be fairly social, outgoing, and willing to participate and join the given conversations. At CF, I got to know quite some international and American friends. We were participatory and excited getting to know each other’s cultures, practices, values, and systems thinking. The exchange of information mentioned above allowed us to be more understanding, comprehensive, and considerate of not only our communities but also the others surrounding us.
What are your career goals? How is your U.S. education relevant to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
My career goal is to be a nurse practitioner. I devote a strong commitment to the quality of life in the community. By being a nurse practitioner, I would gain the appropriate autonomy and great responsibility for the care of my patients. The community deserves to have healthy lifestyles and necessary knowledge to make appropriate healthcare choices. The field of nursing is well respected and prestigious, at least assuredly in the United States.
A nurse is not a physician’s aid but the patient's advocate, educator, and a friend to talk with during the patient's most vulnerable time. The love for my patients drives my desire to keep learning, develop new skills, maintain advocacy, and even strengthen my character as not only a good nurse but also a good person. The availability and accessibility of healthcare environments are important to improve any country’s quality of life, including my country. I would be completely proud and honored to bring back the knowledge and implementation that may transform and improve the healthcare system in Vietnam.
What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering a U.S. education?
The importance of getting to know what resources are being offered at the institution plays a major role in the life of every student. The resources could be the institutional organizations, clubs, events, activities, programs, curriculum, professors, advisors, and financial aid. It is also important to be proactive in your behaviors, decisions, as well as your initiations. When life does not go as planned, it is up to the decision makers to choose whether it is the time to give up or to start making a new path for themselves.