Studying abroad can be challenging for many, but it offers valuable lessons and creates unforgettable memories. This is why many individuals leave their home countries to study abroad as a way to not only explore the world but also to shape their future.
Like many other overseas students who are trying their best every day with dreams and hopes, Quỳnh Giang, or Harley to her friends, has been working hard to pursue her goals in the suburbs of Seattle, USA.
Giang grew up in the small rural town of DakLak. Her parents did their best to provide her with a good upbringing and opportunities to find her passions and talents. Her motivation to study abroad was to change her future and access diverse cultures, knowledge, and experiences. Giang is passionate about her education, especially since none of her siblings has a university degree.
Giang chose to study in Edmonds because her older sister was also studying in the same city. She recently graduated with an Associate in Art in Business degree from Edmonds College and presently taking up her OPT (optional practical training), allowing international students to gain industry work experience for 12 months. As for her associate degree, it’s an overarching program in the business field that gives her a foundation for both majors and helps her avoid starting over or taking too much time in college.
In this week’s Study Abroad series, Quỳnh Giang tells us the story behind her English name and how cooking traditional Vietnamese food keeps her from missing home.
On their preparation before leaving Vietnam:
Because my sister was already in the US, I didn’t need to prepare too much for life outside Vietnam. While I was spared to stress about what to bring and whatnot, I was anxious about communicating and culture shock in general. The good thing was, it didn't last too long because I had the help of my sister as well as friends and teachers at Edmonds.
On their daily routine:
My student life is pretty simple: I go to school, study, and do homework. On top of that, I have to do house chores by myself, such as cooking, washing, and cleaning the house. Others are lucky to have host families or roommates to help them with cleaning and food preparation, but this experience of being away from home has taught me to be independent and survive. On some days, when I’m not occupied with schoolwork, I go out with friends and participate in club activities.
On what keeps them going:
I have a clear goal in mind, and I am working really hard toward it. And to me, it’s all for my family. It’s important for me to show my parents that their support and guidance have not gone to waste. And that my success will bring them pride and joy and serve as a testament to their hard work and dedication. When life gets a little tougher, I draw strength from my family.
On staying connected to her family and friends in Vietnam:
Being my support system and the very reason I’m putting so much effort into what I do in the US, I am regularly in contact with my parents. I FaceTime them and keep them updated with my life abroad.
On building relationships abroad:
Since my sister’s already here, I consider her my first friend in the US. As for friends outside our home, they’re primarily Vietnamese. I guess having people who speak the same language and share the same culture with you helped my transition here. But recently, though, I have expanded my circle and now have friends from other countries.
On having an English name:
I’m a huge fan of DC comics, and while I find the male heroes incredible, I still favor one badass female character in particular: Harley Quinn. I like her so much that I used her name as my English name.
On what she learned from studying abroad:
As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. In my case, my family — being away for so long made me appreciate the time I spent with them when I was home. I’ve learned to treasure them more and be grateful for the time we share. Also, balancing school work, house chores, and personal time helped me grow. I’m proud to say I’ve become independent and self-reliant.
On dealing with challenges:
We all have ways to cope with whatever life throws at us, and to me, I call my family to hear about what they’ve been doing back home and ask about the tiny details of their days. One other thing I do is cook traditional Vietnamese meals; it gets me through homesickness and keeps me close to home despite the distance.
On their hopes for the future:
I’m currently doing OPT. I will apply to university when it ends and continue my study program. While doing that, I continue to do better as I reach my goal – being successful and making my parents proud.
This or That
Movies or books?
Movie. I read books also, but if I have to choose, I prefer movies because I want to feel like I’m in those scenes through sounds, colors, character expressions, etc.
Fresh juice or smoothie?
Can I take both? I make myself spinach and banana smoothies every morning and drink orange or apple juice during the day.
Shopping in-store or online?
Online. I already know my size, and I don’t want to go around with many shopping bags and wait in line. Everything I need to do is just a click.
Instagram or Twitter?
Instagram. I don’t use social media too much. I’m kind of an old-school person.
Give a speech or write a paper?
Give a speech, of course.