An Nhien Pham from Vietnam is studying International Business at Moraine Valley Community College
Why did you decide to study in the USA?
The reason I chose the USA is that the USA has a good standard of education. The USA has a strong reputation for teaching and educating all over the world. One of the top three countries that International students choose to start or continue their study. USA has ensured their position through the time with their above standard of facility, technique, and materials which is an important and priority criterion that International students in general and I looking for.
Why did you choose this particular college or university? What attracted you about your school? What is special about your school and its location?
In the beginning, Moraine Valley was suggested by my cousin because they lived near the college area and they had a good experience with it. Also, before I decided, I did a lot of research and comparison about Moraine Valley. Moraine Valley was located in Palos Hills, it only takes me 20 minutes to ride a car and 30 minutes via bus. So, it's close and helped me save part of my finances. On the other hand, Moraine Valley had really good communication and kept in touch with International Students. The college provided many courses and degrees that students could choose to study and the tuition is not so expensive compared with other colleges. Also, for me as an International student, Moraine Valley provided a good and quality Intensive Language Program that helped International students improve and increase their English ability. The most attractive thing about this school is the diversity, and professionalism of the faculty and staff. But the most impressive to me is the staff from International Student Affairs; they are thoughtful, always answer questions and give good guidance for new and current students. I always received a fast answer from them since the day I registered to Moraine Valley.
What do you like best about your program or university?
Everyone is friendly, staff are helpful and the environment are three things that I like best about Moraine Valley Community College.
What do you miss most about home?
Things I miss most from my home country are the food, my family, friends, and lifestyle. Things are different because we have a different culture, but I have experienced a lot from that difference and I really enjoyed it.
What is your biggest surprise about U.S. life and education?
The education in the USA was not surprising to me, mostly because I know its reputation and it proved so throughout the whole the time I studied here. U.S. life is a little bit different. Part of my college life, I lived in a suburban area so it's kind of quiet and peaceful compared to downtown. I used to live in Ho Chi Minh city, which is a small city in Vietnam but crowded so I see many people and we usually enjoyed life at night, but in the U.S, people relax and enjoy being at home more than going out after a hard-working day.
What is your biggest disappointment?
Even up to now, my life in the U.S and college didn’t give me any disappointment. I just lived like normal and I already told myself before I came here, don’t overthink and expect things too much. Everything can change and they have their own faces.
How have you handled language differences?
I overcame my language differences by studying hard in all English classes that I attended in Moraine Valley. I tried to be confident, to speak more and to listen carefully when teachers, staff and local students talked. From the way they spoke, I tried to learn how to fix my own tone in pronunciation of the vocabulary. I felt the more I spoke, the more I saw my mistakes and started to fix them.
How have you handled finances?
Part of my tuition is from my family’s fund, so they covered it a lot for me. But to help my family handle the finances, I registered and worked as a student employee at Moraine Valley Community College. I worked at two departments: the Job Resource Center and International Student Affairs. I worked hard and the earning and savings that I got from both jobs mostly covered my personal needs, gas, and other small things. I don’t need to use my family’s funds to pay for these things.
How have you adjusting to a different educational system?
Before I came to study, I researched carefully a lot about U.S. education and my college’s policies and helpful tools. When I started to study, I had good support from my advisors from International Student Affairs, each of them gave me a lot of good advice for registering classes in the beginning. When I started my Academic courses, I also went to the Academic Advising Center to help me choose classes that would match with my University’s equivalent credits that I can use to transfer to their school. I learned a lot from those experiences and it helped me to create a good pathway to plan and register for class later.
What are your activities? (clubs, sports, student associations, travel, homestay program, special activities or trip sponsored by your program)?
My greatest activity that I enjoy and participate in is being a member of the International Student Ambassadors Organization. I've collected a lot of experiences from participating. I also meet and greet a lot of International students who come from many countries that I never thought that I would meet and had a chance to become friends with them. Each of the activities gave me the chance to prove myself. I also joined the Leadership Exchange at Joliet college through the Organization and it was a really helpful and informative trip because I met a lot of leadership from other colleges and universities and heard their stories and experiences.
How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?
I thought it will be hard but it turns out it was easier than I thought. American students or International Students are nice and friendly. Of course, they are shy too because each of us come from many countries and backgrounds but if you open your world, they will open too. I’m an introvert person so I'm usually not active in communicating with other people. But since I came here and practiced connecting with others, I realized that people in the USA are friendly and hospitable. From talking to people normally and building that connection, I started to have more confidence in starting a conversation. The more confident you are, start conversations and come out of your comfort zone, the more chances you have to connect and create your own worldwide friendship.
What are your career goals? How is your U.S. Education relevant to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
My major is International Business so basically, I will work most in trading and communication with foreign companies. My goals are to achieve a management position in a multinational company, in which its function is mainly traveling and working in many diverse workplaces around the world. I want this position because it will allow me to access and communicate with many employers and employees in different worlds. Along with this career, and the support from another major in Social Work, I plan on doing more within those communities.
U.S Education is an important step ahead because I have a chance to study and work at one of the most modern, developed countries which have the strongest and the most competitive economies. The education here is a like business too, the setup and lead of the school are just like how you would lead a business. You have to balance all the sources and think more open. That ideal is what I need to for Vietnam. Nowadays, Vietnam is open to many chances for investments from other countries to come to build up. So, the knowledge and experiences I learned from the U.S. are helping me a lot. I will transform and make it more appropriate to apply to Business in Vietnam.
What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering a U.S. education?
My advice for other students from Vietnam who seek a U.S. education is to be confident, open your mind and come out of your comfort zone. Know your goals and reasons why you choose to study abroad. Don’t be dependent on others and start to practice living independently. Think and read everything carefully before deciding on anything important, especially with your life. Make some new friends, participate in clubs, activities and speak English more. Look and try to find a job at school, even if it's big or small, the salary less or more. What you get will be bigger; like experiences, co-worker relationships, letters of recommendation and other things that you never know about it until you try. Don’t just live, find and stay in your comfort zone, open your relationship, think bigger and be brave.