Tuan Nguyen from Vietnam is studying Hospitality Management and Finance at City College of San Francisco (CCSF) in California.
Why did you decide to study in the USA?
Because the USA has one of the best education systems in the world and is the most culturally diverse nation. My dream was to obtain my degree in the U.S. I chose to study in the USA for its academic excellence and a wide variety of educational opportunities that are second to none.
Why did you choose City College of San Francisco?
City College of San Francisco (CCSF) was my first choice of colleges because it is located in the best city in America, San Francisco. San Francisco is home to many different ethnic groups including Vietnamese. Access to the foods and people from Vietnam is important to me.
Living and going to school in another country is a great experience but requires getting used to some unfamiliar things, and CCSF made it easier.
The weather in San Francisco is mild and comfortable all year around. City College of San Francisco also has an active student employment program with a variety of jobs available on campus. I work in the International Students Program Office; I really enjoy it and work with great people.
What do you like best?
I love the diversity of the student population. A large benefit is that the size of the classes allows for interaction with the instructor, which is invaluable. CCSF also has an excellent counseling department to assist students with their academic planning.
What do you miss most?
I miss my family, mainly my mother. But with Skype and email, I am able to talk with her every day.
What was your biggest surprise?
Freedom of speech, while I knew it as a concept prior to coming to the U.S., experiencing freedom of speech was quite amazing to me. Observing people sharing their opinion and sharing my thoughts and opinions in an open manner is quite liberating. The concept of challenging and debating beliefs, especially in the area of politics, was very foreign to me.
... your biggest disappointment?
I was very disappointed that what America calls “football” is not soccer.
How have you handled:
... language differences?
I taught myself English starting as a teenager in Vietnam, but even though I was far from speaking perfectly I was able to communicate well enough to do well. Of course, my speaking and writing English language skills have advanced significantly during the past few years. If I wasn’t understood, I would speak slowly and try to convey what I meant. People are generally very patient and accommodating when speaking with someone who speaks English as a second language.
My mother helped me as well as my sponsor here in the United States. I was able to get a part time job at CCSF, which helped tremendously.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
In Vietnam, you stay with the same classmates throughout the whole schedule of classes of the degree program. In the U.S., each class has a unique set of students. In Vietnam, the administrators decide the student curriculum and class schedule. In the U.S., the student signs up for individual classes and composes their own schedule. It is another example of freedom!
What are your activities?
I have volunteered for the Project Shine Program at CCSF (a program that helps immigrants learn English and to pass the U.S. Citizenship interview) and joined a hip-hop dance club.
How easy or difficult was making friends?
It is very easy to make friends in the USA. You can start making friend by joining variety of clubs. If you have time, community volunteering will give you a great opportunity to meet new people, improve lives and help others.
How relevant is your U.S. education to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
My career goal will concentrate on hospitality and finance. Vietnam has been changing dramatically in the last 20 years. More and more investors from overseas are willing to spend tremendous amount of cash in Vietnam to open their business and expand their brand. The hospitality industry and banking are the two great examples. With the knowledge that I have gained in these fields, I am confident that I will make great contributions to my country.
What is your advice to other students who are considering a U.S. education?
My advice is to prepare yourself by learning English. You need not be completely conversational, but you should be able to communicate, even if it not perfect.
You should have a specific major that you would like to concentrate on. Choose wisely which school you are going to study in the U.S. and spend time studying about that school. You can learn a lot by reading the school’s website.
A U.S. education is a great choice for your future education. U.S. degrees are renowned throughout the world for their excellence. The U.S. is the land of opportunities and innovation. By obtaining a degree in the U.S., you are holding a key to a bright and successful future.