Update 12/22/16: Hue’s post on Study Abroad Corner has some great advice for anyone who wants to study abroad.
What I wish I had known before studying abroad in the US
Every week I organize an English speaking club for university students in Vinh City. It’s called Hello! English Club. To learn more about it, follow this link.
This past August I met someone from Vietnam who’s studying in America. Her name is Linh. I asked her if she would like to speak at my club about her experiences living and studying in America. This is a summary of some of the advice she gave.
*** If you want to study abroad you should be prepared to read a lot. You should start reading now to improve your ability to read for long periods of time (sometimes 50 pages must be read in 2 days).
*** Her biggest difficulty in living in America is the loneliness. She missed being with her friends and family during the holidays.
*** She really likes the education system in America. She likes the interesting teaching style of her teachers. They use videos, pictures, and other ways to keep their students interested in what they’re learning (the lessons aren’t boring). The teachers have office hours. You can visit them before or after class to ask questions or just say hi. In the lessons, students are encouraged to ask questions (even ones that may be considered stupid).
*** Plagiarism and cheating at schools in America aren’t tolerated. You will get expelled and it will be extremely difficult to get accepted at another school.
*** A big difference between the West and the East is you can’t use bribes if you break the law. For example, if you go through a red light and a police officer stops you, you can’t give them money to not get a ticket.
*** She was never interested in science until she took an Oceanography class. The way the teacher taught her about ocean life caused her to have an interest in science that she never had.
*** Companies in America want to hire people who have good abilities (hard working and dedicated). This is different from Vietnam where your ability isn’t so important. It’s more about your relationship with current employees of the company. In America there is a lot of competition to get jobs. Companies look for graduates who they can train to become star employees.
What do you think?
Have you considered studying in another country? Are you studying abroad now? Share your advice in the comments below.