Meet Hoàng Quân, known as Hadrian Lê among his international friends, a vibrant soul who embarked on a journey from Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh City. Fueled by an unwavering passion for writing, this flame within him ignited during his high school years, propelling him to join the journalism club and boldly take on the hoa học trò challenge. It wasn't long before he found his voice as a valued contributor to the captivating realms of KPOP and the enchanting world of CPOP.
As fate would have it, Hadrian's dream of studying abroad became a tangible reality. With sheer determination and grit, he earned the prestigious ASEAN scholarship, paving his way to Macquarie University in Australia. While many may have been lured by the magnetic fields of IT, business, and finance, Hadrian felt an undeniable pull towards a different path. He was drawn to the captivating realm of Marketing and Media, where creative expression merged seamlessly with his most profound aspirations.
But what set Hadrian apart from his peers was his profound inclination to harness the power of marketing for the greater good. Non-profit organizations, government initiatives, and environmental causes became his guiding beacons, compelling him to raise global awareness and leave an indelible impact. From championing women's rights to embracing endeavors that shaped a brighter future for all, Hadrian saw marketing as the catalyst to ignite positive change in the world.
In this week's Study Abroad episode, Hadrian generously unraveled his extraordinary tales and shared the profound wisdom he gained along his path. From dealing with challenges and keeping his eye on the goal to nurturing creativity and his hopes for the future, he shares how studying abroad nurtured self-acceptance and inner companionship.
On his preparation before leaving Vietnam:
As borders cautiously opened amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic at that time, I eagerly set my sights on Australia. However, given the circumstances then, my opportunities to meet up with friends before my departure were regrettably limited. Nonetheless, I managed to arrange a heartfelt gathering, bidding them farewell and creating lasting memories.
When it came to packing, I meticulously ensured I had all the essential clothing for my upcoming journey. Amidst the belongings, I included a precious item: Vietnamese coffee, a comforting taste of home to accompany me on this new chapter. Mindful of the circumstances, I consciously refrained from bringing perishable food items, instead focusing on essential supplies and specific medications.
On the day of my departure, I decided to have only my family accompany me to the airport. My utmost concern was the well-being of my friends, and I didn't want to risk them accidentally contracting COVID-19 due to our gathering. With heartfelt hugs exchanged, I embarked on my new adventure, firmly believing that bidding farewell is merely a prelude to the anticipation of joyful reunions in the future.
On his daily routine:
I'm grateful that my family supports me financially, allowing me to focus on my studies without needing a job. In addition to academics, I actively engage in clubs, activities, and the Vietnamese community, helping students, organizing events, and volunteering. Each day, I wake up and plan my tasks, prioritizing assignments and due dates to stay organized.
On what keeps him going:
Several factors keep me going and help me persevere. It's important to note that I'm not always motivated, but these factors play a crucial role in getting me back on track when I feel like giving up.
Embarking on this journey is a significant investment, and while my parents are willing to support me financially, I am fully aware of the privilege it is to have parents who can afford to invest billions of VND in my education. Whenever I contemplate giving up, I reflect on this privilege and remind myself that I cannot waste a valuable opportunity.
I consider myself a resilient individual who doesn't quit halfway. I hold onto the belief that I am someone who finishes what they start. I find great satisfaction in the idea that even if I'm not the first to cross the finish line, I will be the one to reach the end, even if I'm the last. Therefore, I don't want to simply abandon my goals and achieve nothing, especially when I deliberately chose to pursue them in the first place.
I feel a strong sense of responsibility because this entire journey is my decision and my choice. Therefore, I recognize the need to take full responsibility for my actions and outcomes.
On staying connected to his family and friends in Vietnam:
Every day, without fail, I make it a point to call and text my parents to provide them with updates on my daily life. However, I choose not to burden them with the details of my difficulties because I genuinely care about their well-being and do not wish to cause them unnecessary worry. Instead, I share with them stories and anecdotes from my day, assuring them that everything is going well on my end.
On building relationships abroad:
I have the privilege of having Vietnamese and foreign friends in my social circle. As I settled into life here, I actively sought out connections within the Vietnamese community. Over time, through shared classes, projects, and collaborative teamwork, those acquaintances turned into close friendships.
In my opinion, being open-minded is crucial in fostering these relationships. It is vital to acknowledge that human beings are inherently social creatures, relying on one another for survival and thriving through communication and connection. Therefore, I dedicate effort towards nurturing and sustaining these relationships. Personally, I find this to be the most challenging aspect of adulthood.
On having an English name:
When deciding on an English name, I intended to avoid being just another “Nick” or “David.” I desired a name that would truly reflect my individuality. Considering that my Vietnamese name means royalty, I sought a name that resonated with that concept. That's when I came across “Hadrian,” the name of a Roman emperor. It felt fitting, aligning with my desire for a unique and distinctive English name.
On the importance of nurturing creativity:
I highly value and prioritize my creativity, as it is a powerful skill and a means of escaping stress and anxiety. Through creativity, I can delve into my identity and discover new aspects of myself. While it is true that many young people associate creativity with financial success, reputation, and fame, it is essential to emphasize that creativity primarily offers a way to express ourselves and find solace from the pressures of life.
It serves as our sacred sanctuary, nurturing our souls. I firmly believe that experiences play a vital role in fostering creativity, which is why I maintain an open-minded attitude and embrace new opportunities that come my way. It's about seizing the chances that lie ahead!
On what he learned from studying abroad:
Being friends with myself and accepting who I am is essential. I should accept that I'll have bad times, too and learn how to tolerate them. Because eventually, at the end of the day, I'm still alone, even though I am surrounded by many people every day. I only have myself to count on. I can't rely on someone else to live my life for me. So, being friends with myself will help me stay comfortable even when alone.
Let's give ourselves opportunities to try new things because we are still determining what chances will come our way. As soon as it's safe, let's just go for it. Let's be open-minded, volunteer, talk with people, take new classes, and try everything we can if we want to.
On how his outlook on life has evolved:
Initially, I strongly admired white people, assuming they lived at a higher level, and hesitated to embrace their Vietnamese identity. However, after moving here, my perspective has shifted. I feel grateful for my privileges in Vietnam, knowing many need to work hard to afford their education and living expenses.
Furthermore, I've noticed that many Vietnamese parents in Australia aspire for their children to assimilate into white culture. Yet, deep down, these children desire to reconnect with their Vietnamese roots. Sadly, they often lack the necessary support. It's become clear that their lives here entail successes and struggles.
On dealing with challenges:
For me, the biggest challenge I've encountered while studying in Australia is undoubtedly loneliness. Many people hold the misconception that studying abroad is a constant whirlwind of fun and joy, filled with weekend parties and enjoyable hangouts with friends. However, reality paints a different picture, especially for individuals like myself who are studying overseas alone.
During the initial 6 to 9 months, I struggled to find a companion with whom I could share my experiences, and I often felt like an outsider amidst the crowd. Whenever I sat among Australian friends, I sensed a palpable disconnect as they engaged in conversations rooted in their own cultural and local context, leaving me unsure how to contribute. Consequently, I found myself navigating this new environment entirely on my own.
This has proven to be a difficult challenge for me, as back in Vietnam, I was constantly surrounded by friends and my community. The stark contrast of being alone in a foreign land, even my Vietnamese friends, is difficult for anyone to grasp. While they consistently offer encouragement, the burden of loneliness is not easily surmountable.
Fortunately, I have been fortunate enough to develop meaningful friendships since then. However, it has been a challenging journey. I had to learn to accept and communicate with myself, often engaging in reflective conversations. Therefore, I advise those facing similar difficulties to take time for self-reflection and avoid rushing the process. We shouldn't force ourselves to achieve instant connections or immediate solutions. Instead, by allowing ourselves the space to grow and adjust, we can gradually overcome the challenges of loneliness.
On his hopes for the future:
I have numerous aspirations for my future, particularly a strong desire to work in a multicultural setting. It is possible that I may return to Vietnam and seek a position that allows me to collaborate both locally and internationally. Additionally, I dream of becoming a scholar, envisioning myself as an athletic academic researcher in the UK or engaging in similar pursuits. However, the truth is that I cannot predict where life will lead me. What I do know is that I am driven to make a positive impact and contribute to the betterment of the world.