Why did you decide to study in the USA?
At first, my mother wanted me to try to come to the USA to study because she thought that if I study abroad that I will have more opportunities for my future. I was 14 when I came to the USA. I felt excited because I heard about American as a dream of many people. She also felt less worried because I have a relative in the USA.
Why did you choose this particular college or university?
I choose Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC) because tuition is not expensive like the university. MVCC is near where I am living, which is great because I am not driving and I am walking to school every day. My high school made a couple of trips to visit MVCC. Moreover, MVCC has the major that I want to study, and I have many free lectures.
What do you like best about your program or university?
What I like the most about MVCC is its holistic student support office that helps students with their schedule. The school has a career and transfer office to help students work on their resume when they are looking for jobs on campus. My school also protects the privacy of students from health officials, for example, students need mental help, they can walk through into the room but other people think that they get hurt, not because of mental help.
What do you miss most about home?
I have been living in the USA for almost 6 years, but I never have a chance to go back to my country because the ticket is too expensive. I miss my family a lot, street foods, and my best friend.
What was your biggest surprise about U.S. life and education?
I was surprised about the culture, about foods, and how people dress when they are outside of their house. Education is lighter than my country, one subject takes one year instead of my country, students need to take about 12-13 subjects each year, and they have no choice what they want to learn.
... your biggest disappointment?
My biggest disappointment is I was not trying my best while I was in high school so I can get more scholarships. I did not make a lot of friends, but I will try to at MVCC and I did have a lot of friends at MVCC, after a year.
How have you handled:
... language differences?
I felt stress when I started my life in the USA. The pronunciation is completely different from what I have learned in my country. Other people could not understand what I wanted to say, and I was not able to get their points, either. However, at MVCC they provide ESL for anybody where English is their second language.
I do not have any finances but for native American students, especially at MVCC, they provide not only finances but also some more help, some programs on campus are free for students, provided needed for students.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
I love the education system in the USA. They do not rank the students who are better, but they reward good students. They let students choose what the students want to take this year, next year, and they will set up the plan in the future for students. Therefore, students will feel more comfortable and balanced between their studies and can take part in the sport in school, without any burden.
What are your activities?
One of the many ways quickly to get to know or join college life is clubs and programs. I am involved with the International club, PTK club, and Kidz-N-Coach club plus the Food Recovery Program.
How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?
Asians eat everything inside of pigs or chickens or fish, so it is hard for some people to accept that smell, just kidding. Most people are friendly, so it is easier to make friends with them when we have the same things to talk about. This means some of them feel our culture is interesting so they asked about that, I feel happy to share and let more people get to know about us. In the beginning, my English was horrible so it was hard for me to find friends who had the patience to listen and understand what I wanted to say. Friends helped me improve my English skills a lot.
What are your career goals? How is your U.S. education relevant to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
Vietnam is a small country, but these couple of years there are more schools that have connected with foreign as an exchange student program. In my study field, my career goals are to help students to understand more about other countries and what they will be facing. I can give them a general point of view and my experiences, and I hope to help them gain more confidence.
What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering a U.S. education?
We are humans, we will find some way to community with others, we do not need to feel worried or scared. The school will provide what you need. Make some friends so you will not feel lonely. The teachers will understand that English is not our first language, they may give you extra time for the tests or quizzes, but talk to them to let them know. The school will help you to look over your essays, fix your grammar, and avoid plagiarism. Someone will be there for you if you need help. Do not feel stressed, relax, and try your best.
Lu The Linh, who goes by Linh, from Vietnam.