Interview with An Pham Thien Nguyen
An Pham Thien Nguyen, a pharmacist in Vietnam, is studying English in the Iowa Intensive English Program (IIEP) at the University of Iowa.
Why did you decide to study in the USA?
English is really important in my job because I often have to invite the doctors from Europe and U.S. to come to Vietnam to speak in my symposia, and I also work with foreigners, participating in meetings and training abroad.
Why did you choose Iowa Intensive English Program at the University of Iowa?
I chose this program because of recommendation of my best friend who lives in Iowa City.
What do you like best?
I like the way of studying here, students are very active and express their own opinion during class time. The curriculum is also very good.
What do you miss most?
I miss my family at home.
How has this program helped you to handle future study at a U.S. university?
I have been studying for six months. My English has improved a lot because when I came to U.S. I couldn’t understand a very simple sentence, as my pronunciation was not good. But now I can easily communicate with native speakers. This program will help me to apply to the master’s [program] at the university.
What was your biggest surprise?
The biggest surprise about U.S. life is Americans are very friendly. They always talk to strangers, but actually, they just want to say “hi” only. The way of education here is very good as the teachers are very good and always willing to help students make progress for themselves.
... your biggest disappointment?
I didn’t have any disappointment in Iowa City.
How have you handled: ... language differences?
I often join the social events to speak with native speakers: volunteer for Iowa Art Festival, joining salsa [dancing] activities in Senior Center, Pedmall and some other places in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, Iowa. I also practice pronunciation with my communication teacher every week and I have campus conversation partner.
I have some saving money to pay for my English program. I also worked in the bakery in the university.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
I really love the way of education in IIEP so I enjoy studying and I don’t have to adjust anything.
What are your activities?
We had field trips to Lake Macbride, a corn maze, and bowling trip.
How easy or difficult was making friends?
It is easy for me to make friends in the USA as I’m friendly, and also, I’m good at dancing salsa. I have a lot of good friends in Iowa City.
How relevant is your U.S. education to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
I want to be marketing manager in five years. My U.S. education will help me to save a lot of time in my job as I can communicate easily with my boss, my regional team and foreign doctors. In my company, people really appreciate good English-speaking people so I can have more chances to get promotion.
What is your advice to other students who are considering a U.S. education?
I would advise them to come to study in the USA as the best way to study English is living in that society and experiencing the real life in English communities.