Meet Nguyễn Nhật Minh, or William, whose remarkable journey from Cần Thơ to Sydney is a tale of determination and inspiration. Minh’s parents, driven by a desire to provide their children with better opportunities, sent him to Sydney to pursue his education when he was just 15 years old. Despite starting with limited English skills, Minh is now working towards degrees in Education and Media Arts at UNSW Sydney, driven by his passion for teaching and multimedia and a deep commitment to making his parents proud.
Sydney, renowned for its academic excellence and cultural diversity, has not only nurtured Minh’s academic growth but also expanded his horizons. The city has become his second home, where he has thrived intellectually and personally. It’s a place where he’s encountered diverse communities, each with their own unique stories and aspirations.
In this week’s Study Abroad series, let’s dive into Minh’s incredible journey. We’ll uncover his beginnings in Cần Thơ, the hurdles he overcame, and the triumphs he celebrated in Sydney. We’ll also delve into how he bridges two different worlds, always holding onto his parents’ dreams and his unwavering determination.
On his preparation before leaving Vietnam
Leaving my home in Vietnam to study in Australia stirred a storm of feelings inside me. The day my visa came through, excitement kept me awake, with dreams of the adventures awaiting. Yet, the reality of leaving really hit the next day when my mom turned in my school’s withdrawal form. Sharing the news with friends led to a mix of shock, questions, and farewells that, at 15, felt overwhelming. As I prepared, I hastily booked flights and, while packing, couldn’t resist including "Hao Hao" noodles as a comforting piece of home. Those final goodbyes were heart-wrenching, signaling the dawn of a fresh chapter.
On his daily routine
I start my day early at 6 am, getting ready for university. I live quite far, so I take a 90-minute train ride to campus. Classes usually begin around 9 am, but the schedule can vary. Besides attending lectures, I also work as a student support officer. I help other students with their questions, and I really enjoy this role.
On the days when I have officer duties, I stay on campus until about 5 pm. Then, I take the train back home. I also do my grocery shopping once a week to get the things I need for the coming days. Living in a foreign country, away from the familiar, has been a truly transformative experience.
On what keeps him going
My study abroad journey is fueled by a strong sense of independence and a desire to prove to myself that I can succeed, just like anyone else. The daily challenges of adjusting to a new culture, a different education system, and a life away from what I know motivate me. I find daily strength in the belief that I can overcome these obstacles and thrive.
Beyond personal growth, I hope my experiences inspire others, especially those considering a similar path or facing their own challenges abroad. The thought that my journey might embolden others pushes me forward, reminding me that every step I take is paving the way for future adventurers.
On staying connected to his family and friends in Vietnam
Even though I left Vietnam when I was young, I make it a priority to stay close to my family and friends there. I visit Vietnam from time to time, and I really cherish those times when I can be with my loved ones. Even though I’ve made new friends in Sydney, I still keep in touch with the friends I made when I was in primary school. Even though we’re far away from each other, we use technology and social media to share our lives and support each other. My family in Vietnam is also very important to me. We have regular video chats and send messages to stay connected, no matter how far apart we are.
On building relationships abroad
In Australia, I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a rich tapestry of cultures. Sydney stands out for its vibrant multiculturalism, and this is mirrored in the diversity of my friends. While I share bonds with locals, my circle spans across continents with friends hailing from Greece, Thailand, Singapore, Iraq, and many other nations. This mosaic of backgrounds has not only enriched my study abroad journey but has also transformed my social interactions into educational experiences. Through them, I’ve gained invaluable insights into various traditions, customs, and worldviews, making my time here even more rewarding and enlightening.
On having an English name
Using the name ‘William’ makes things easier, especially for people to say and remember. My original name, ‘Nhat Minh,’ was often tricky for people, so I switched to ‘William.’ Besides being simpler, I felt like ‘William’ suited me well.
On the importance of nurturing creativity
Volunteering holds a special place in my heart, offering both personal development and a chance to make a positive mark on the community. I dove into volunteer work during high school, undeterred by my then-limited English skills. Through it, I honed teamwork, enhanced my language proficiency, and gained confidence in leadership roles. Such experiences highlight the myriad of opportunities beyond traditional learning, forging more holistic individuals.
On what he learned from studying abroad
Studying in another country taught me a very important lesson: it’s okay to be yourself. When I was in high school in Sydney, some people made fun of my accent, and it made me feel self-conscious. But as time went on, I realized that being different was actually a good thing, not a problem. Instead of worrying about my accent, I focused on really listening to others and making real friendships. This shift in mindset was affirmed when my peers elected me as their student representative, underscoring that true value lies in authenticity, not appearance or sound.
On dealing with challenges
In the past, when things didn’t go my way, I used to dwell on what I couldn’t change, and I often criticized myself too harshly. Over time, I’ve learned to understand and accept that some things are just meant to be. Embracing this perspective has been essential in helping me cope with challenging moments, especially when dealing with homesickness or feeling like I don’t completely fit in.
On his hopes for the future
I see a future where I’m not just a high school teacher, but also a catalyst for change in people’s lives. I aspire to influence others positively, be it through teaching, mentoring, or other avenues. As I look ahead to the next 5-10 years, I’m excited to move closer to this dream and find all the different ways I can make it happen.
This or That
Movies or books?
Cats or dogs?
Fresh juice or smoothie?
Shopping in-store or online?
Instagram or Twitter?
Give a speech or write a paper?
Give a speech