A Vietnamese teenager answers questions about studying in Australia

Dave and I exchange gifts before he leaves for Australia.

My friend Dave is 17. He’s Vietnamese and from Vinh City. He’s studying in Australia. He will be finishing his last year of high school there. After that he will go to an Australian university. In this post he answers questions from Vietnamese students about what it’s like to live and study in another country.

(Q) Will you come back and work in Vietnam after you graduate? Or will you stay and work in Australia? Why?
(A) I think it depends on how good I am to stay and work for an Australian company. I want to live in Australia so far. Honestly, it is much better to stay and grow old here because of the great environment, lifestyle and opportunities for work.

(Q) Can you tell me about the teaching method there? How much do you have to pay for each course? Which certificate do you need to attend?
(A) Australian education always focuses on hands-on experience for students (which I think many other developed countries do). They do not require you to memorize every formula (mathematics, chemistry, ICT, etc). They only want to see how you apply it to solve the problems. For example in Chemistry (in my foundation year at Monash), students have to spend a lot of time in the laboratory to do, practice and observe thousands of experiments.
I’m studying at Monash at the moment. The money that I have to pay for my course (bachelor of engineering) in the foundation year is 24,000 AUD (I haven’t attended university yet). I recommend that if you are 17 years old like me, you should get a 2 year diploma in any degree you want at Monash College. Then you can go to Monash University and you only need to pay 17,500 AUD.

(Q) When live in abroad, what do you miss about your hometown? How do you study when you miss Vietnam and your brain is full of your hometown?
(A) To be honest, I only felt lonely the first 2-3 days after settling down. First, I share a room with a Vietnamese student and I have a lot of friends who are Vietnamese. Second, I didn’t get culture shock because the people in Australia are so friendly that they make me feel like home. Moreover, the classes I take made me study really hard so instead of thinking of family and friends in Vietnam, my head keeps thinking about how to pass exams, get accepted at university and how glorious my life could be if I graduate university successfully and have a suitable job. Consequently, I haven’t been really homesick. But living far from your hometown will make you realize how perfect it is to stay at home with your family and hang out with friends.

(Q) How do you like living in Australia? What do you miss about your homeland? What will you bring back to Viet Nam when you come back? What knowledge will you bring? I am glad you have the opportunity to study there. Hopefully it is cheaper and safer than the US.
(A) I love the peaceful life, perfect environment, great community services and many opportunities for talented people. Also people in Australia are so great. They are friendly and always talk with a big smile. While living in Melbourne, I miss some Vietnamese food, miss hanging out with family and friends and miss trying many exotic things. Next time I come back to Vietnam, I’ll bring some apples for my family ( 😛  ) and some presents for my friends. In Australia I gained a lot of knowledge not only in school but also in life. I learned how to speak with other people and how civilized Australia is in comparison with Vietnam. Furthermore, I prefer living in Australia to America because choosing a country to live and study in depends on your own personality. Take myself for example, I want to live a peaceful life. Therefore, America has too much hustle and bustle for me.

(Q) Can you share some ways that you’ve studied English? What made you successful at English?
(A) I have to confess that I’m not very successful with English. In my opinion, experiences are really important for people who want to improve their English. My four tips for improving your English are:
1. Try to talk with a native speaker to improve your speaking skill.
2. Watch movies without subtitles (or with English subtitles for the first time) to improve your listening skill.
3. Read books or news written in English to improve your reading skill.
4. Write essays or blogs to improve your writing skill.

(Q) Can you share about life in your new environment? Do you have a part time job? How can you find a job in Australia?
(A) I’m a student so I spend most of my time at school (from 9 AM to 5 PM). Also I have to cook 3 meals everyday. I rarely hang out with friends because everyone seems to be very busy studying, completing their assignments and studying for exams. I used to have a part time job as a waiter at a Vietnamese restaurant. It’s not too hard to find a job in Australia. You only need to search for the type of job you want on the Internet and apply for it by sending the resume to the manager.

(Q) How can you find info about scholarships in Australia? Do Australian people have a tendency to treat Asians differently? What’s the weather like there? Is school a huge problem? What are some problems at school?
(A) It is quiet hard to get a scholarship to an Australian university. Only about four outstanding students in my whole class were able to get a scholarship. But you can apply for many types of scholarships (academic study, sport, music, etc). Nevertheless, if you want to get a masters degree in Australia, you can easily get a good scholarship. Australia is a multicultural country. There are so many Asians who live here that I hardly ever have a chance to speak with local people in the city of Melbourne. So you don’t need to worry that Asians are treated differently. Moreover, there is no inequality in Australia, everyone has the same rights and responsibilities. About the weather, it’s unpredictable so you have to get used to checking the weather forecast online before going out. By the way, school is really great. Teachers are really open, friendly and want you to talk with them anywhere anytime. People who always talk with their teachers about what they are learning will get high grades easily.

Thank you for reading. I hope that you were able to learn something from Dave’s answers. If you’re a teenager and looking for some life advice you can find it on Reddit.