Why did you decide to study in the USA?
I love English and the multicultural aspect of the USA. That is why I want to start my college experience in the States.
Why did you choose this particular college or university?
First, the most important reason for me to choose SUNY Plattsburgh is that the school offers high scholarships which help greatly with my family's financial burden. Second, the location of SUNY Plattsburgh is ideal. Plattsburgh is a small town that helps me stay focused on school, but it is close enough to many big cities (such as Montreal, Burlington, Lake Placid) that help me to de-stress after studying and working.
What do you like best about your program or university?
The people are what I love the most. Friends, professors, staff, and community members are always welcoming and hospitable to international people like me. Especially, the Global Education Office staff are the ones who always show support to me throughout my college experience.
What do you miss most about home?
I miss Vietnamese foods, especially mom-cooked dishes. As a college student, I barely have time to cook for myself. Whenever there is a cultural holiday in Vietnam, I miss the time gathering with my family and friends to enjoy the authentic meal together.
What was your biggest surprise about U.S. life and education?
Resident life experience surprises me the most. I have never stayed in a dormitory back home so I had nothing to expect when I first came to the U.S. It is fascinating because of the good housing facilities, numerous events, and helpful resident assistants (RA) in the dorm. That is also a reason why I want to become a part of this society by applying for the RA position.
... your biggest disappointment?
I would say my biggest disappointment about U.S. life is the diversity aspect of it. I expected a welcoming society, friendly people, and high education about the term “being different.” However, there is still a small portion in the community who do not understand the beauty of people who are different from them. In general, I appreciate the opportunity to study in the U.S., and I think this country is still growing its knowledge about diversity.
How have you handled:... language differences?
Making friends and communicating with them is the most efficient way for me to handle language differences. I learn idioms, slang, and vocabulary day by day from the conversations I have with my friends.
I had my first part-time job as a tutor in the learning center during my second semester at SUNY Plattsburgh. Later on, I was offered a peer career assistant position at the Career Development Center and also as a resident assistant in campus housing. With the jobs I have, I am able to fulfill my needs with the income I make instead of using my parents’ money.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
In the American educational system, I realize that I should be more active and speak my opinion as long as it is for a good deed. The U.S. is a country that allows freedom of speech and encourages students to raise their thoughts. I learned this throughout my time here, and I have become more confident in my learning experiences.
What are your activities?
I have always appreciated the opportunity to study at SUNY Plattsburgh. Therefore, I make use of all the moments I have while I am here. I was a president of the American Marketing Association, a vice president of two clubs including the Vietnamese Association and the club I co-founded — the Oratory Society. I volunteered to be a mentor at a local high school. I worked part-time as a tutor/counselor for a summer program called Upward Bound - TRIO, a group leader for international student orientation, and a teaching assistant in the Management Information Systems and Analytics Department.
How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?
I would say it depends on the different people I interact with. I have more friends who are international than domestic, mainly because I feel a strong connection with people who leave home to study in America like me.
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 work with people and bring benefits to them. The experience and knowledge I gained from my education have helped me to become a better person. In the short term period, I want to experience the educational field in which I learn a lot about American culture.
What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering a U.S. education?
My advice would be: just prepare your luggage and go if your financial status allows. The U.S. education system is not perfect. However, from my personal experience, it helps me understand myself, become more independent and confident.