Van Phan from Viet Nam is a senior, majoring in communication, at Grossmont College

Van Phan from Viet Nam is a senior, majoring in communication, at Grossmont College

Why did you decide to study in the USA?

Since I was a little child, I dreamed that one day I would come to the USA to study. The biggest reason I considered a study abroad program is the opportunity to see and explore the world. By studying abroad, I can experience a brand-new country with incredible new outlooks, customs, and activities. The benefits of studying abroad include the opportunity to see new sights, natural wonders, museums, and landmarks of this beautiful country. This enriching experience will enable me to see and do things I wouldn’t expect, and meet people who have grown up in a different culture.The reasons I chose the USA in particular for my study abroad are quality education, unique curriculum, multicultural environment, and abundant opportunities. 

Why did you choose this particular college or university?

There are many reasons why I chose Grossmont College to continue my education. It has such a welcoming, supportive community with a diverse population of students, high transfer rates, and a beautiful East County, San Diego campus. However, what mostly attracted me to this school is a non-credit, pre-college program on the Grossmont College campus: American Collegiate English (ACE). I understand that one of the most common challenges of studying abroad is the language barrier. Therefore, I tried to find the best program to improve my English skills. This program had all I wanted with small classes (average of 10 students) and fun International Club activities to meet new friends. I easily transferred to Grossmont College after one ACE session.  

What do you like best about your program or university?

I personally love ACE at Grossmont College. This ESL program definitely helped me become a straight-A student, and therefore, more successful in my college classes. ACE professors encouraged me to better share my thoughts and options. Now I feel a lot more comfortable asking for clarification in my current college classes. The small ACE classes allowed my professors to give me more thorough and helpful feedback after every speech or essay. Each professor ensured that I understood the material, and helped every student get the help they needed. This allows and encourages the students to reach their fullest potential. ACE made me realize that learning English can be so much fun, and not so overwhelming. As part of the course, we interviewed American high school students who gave me various useful tips from their experiences for taking exams. I learned how to organize my study materials, how to better manage my time, and how to deal with homework. ACE also gave me a lot of necessary soft skills. Finally, the ACE professors are also Grossmont College professors, so they know exactly how to prepare students for college or university academic life.

What do you miss most about home?

One of the most painful aspects of leaving home is that your family stays behind. I miss my parents and my older sister so much. I also miss my mom’s pho, my dad’s fried rice, home made rice and chicken, and banh mi. 

What was your biggest surprise about U.S. life and education?

Colleges and universities in the U.S. offer a wide range of campus activities beyond just academics which surprised me the most. I can have the opportunity to join athletics, music, drama, arts, Greek life, volunteering, and many other clubs and student organizations. 

... your biggest disappointment?

Actually, Grossmont College offers a variety of services to help international students both inside and outside of the classroom. To be honest, I don't have any disappointments with living and studying here.

How have you handled:

... language differences?

I think practice makes perfect. I forced myself to speak to people in English whenever I could. There was nothing to be afraid of all along. Nobody laughed at me, even though I was a complete beginner. In fact, they seemed even more encouraging because of it. The more I spoke, the more confident I got. Learning from your mistakes is an essential skill that will help you to move forward and stay positive. The person who recognizes, accepts and learns from their mistake is the one who will make the fastest progress.

... finances?

My parents had saved and planned to pay for my college tuition fees.

... adjusting to a different educational system?

It was not an easy task to get adapted to the totally new educational system. However ACE provided me all necessary skills to succeed in Grossmont College. I gained numerous tips from professors at ACE. For example, color code your files for your different activities: keep all your school documents and information about extracurricular activities in yellow folders. Use blue folders for financial aid papers (bank papers, scholarship applications, award letters, etc.).

They also taught me about priorities. Put first things first. I use a calendar to keep track of deadlines, school schedule, day assignments are due, and other important activities. My today’s success could not be possible if I had not attended ACE.

What are your activities?

Grossmont College has over 30 active student clubs/organizations on campus. There are so many activities for the whole year. I joined the greater San Diego community as they celebrate the beauty and heritage of Chicano park at the 49th annual park day celebration. My classmates and I also helped the San Diego Food Bank feed vulnerable families and seniors during the COVID-19 crisis. I also support The Grossmont College Speech and Debate Team, presenting its final showcase of award-winning speeches for the season. 

How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?

It is not very difficult to make friends in the U.S.; I found most  Americans very polite, respectful and friendly.

What are your career goals? How is your U.S. education relevant to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?

After graduating, I want to teach English as a second language back home in Vietnam. Not only through research but through personal experience, it is proven that cultural immersion is the fastest, most effective way to learn a new language. Studying in the USA not only allowed me to learn to speak a foreign language fluently, but also gave me the opportunity to learn about American culture. This also led to making connections with other people who share similar viewpoints and interests. I hope that with all my gained experience, I can become a successful teacher and inspire the next generation to learn English, and hopefully encourage them to study abroad.

What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering a U.S. education?

If you dream to study in the USA , don’t hesitate to do it. Plan it today, and make it come true. I am not telling you it's going to be easy. I'm telling you, at the end of the day it's going to be worth it.

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Van Phan from Viet Nam is a senior, majoring in communication, at Grossmont College.

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