Study Abroad is a series that explores the experiences, challenges, and lessons of Vietnamese international students.
As a kid, Rachel Pham was self-conscious and reserved. But as she opened her eyes to the bigger world and embraced them with curiosity and a genuine desire to discover new places and learn new things, that’s when she started to bloom. Fast forward to today, Rachel is persistent in reaching her dreams of being able to give back to her home country.
Born and raised in Ho Chi Minh City, Rachel Pham is presently based in Melbourne, Australia. The used-to-be shy girl from Saigon is taking up her Business and Marketing degree at one of Australia’s top universities, Monash University in Melbourne.
When asked what made her decide to move abroad for education, Rachel said it was ultimately her love for discovering new cultures, languages, and people. “And since I consider myself an extrovert, I also get excited to make new connections with individuals from around the world. I believe that these will bring me such great stories and experiences.”
Here we’ll learn more about how Rachel started her journey abroad and her hopes for the future.
On her preparation before leaving Vietnam:
After our trip to Australia in 2017, my family and I started talking about my future of going there to study. When I got to the time when the actual planning began, I had to prepare myself and my skills. Since the school required me to have an IELTS certificate, I took several courses in six months to achieve the score. Then, I spent most of my last year in Vietnam improving my English as well as completing my 10th grade.
During the last few days, I was absolutely emotional because I was not ready to leave my friends behind. When I arrived here, I got a lot of support and advice from my family and friends during the first few weeks to adapt quickly to the new environment.
On her daily routine and the relationships she has built:
My life at the university involves two days of classes per week and three days of office work during weekdays. On weekends, I visit my brother, spend time with my boyfriend, or hang out with friends. Most of my friends in Australia are Vietnamese, Chinese, Malaysian, and Japanese. Besides, I also have local Asian-Australian friends.
One of my biggest pursuits in this journey is to graduate and get a Permanent Resident in Australia. My family and friends’ support always cheers me up and inspires me to keep going.
As for my family back home, despite my busy schedule, I always make time to call them twice or thrice a week to catch up about my current situation and their circumstances in Vietnam. I often talk to my friends in Vietnam via social media about what they posted there, so I still maintain good relationships with most of them.
On the importance of nurturing creativity
My passion is to explore as many new things as possible, especially when I’m living in “a whole new world.” To me, it is vital to have an outside life besides university life. It helps to reduce stress from studying and enables a person to gain more experience and knowledge with the new culture, society, and lifestyle of different people.
On dealing with challenges
Studying abroad alone is not easy because I will have to face many challenges and difficulties. Many times, I have learned how to deal with them better. I usually share my issues with the people I trust, such as my brother or boyfriend. I also talk to my family as well about my condition when I feel lonely. They give me great advice and motivation to do something and move on.
On what she learned from studying abroad
Thanks to the journey, I have gained a lot of experiences and great lessons.
The very first one is becoming more independent. I have to do and face everything as well as overcome all of the challenges by myself. And that helped me become mature and mindful.
To me, “sharing is caring” is the most important thing I have realized from my journey. If I can share my thoughts and struggles, people will not hesitate to help or advise me to solve the problems, especially in the university and workplace.
I feel happy because I’ve gained many valuable lessons and experience from going to work at an early age. They taught me to think more logically in doing anything to receive the appropriate results and work productively and efficiently.
Living alone in a big foreign city like Melbourne, I also understood how to spend responsibly and that saving is essential. Lastly, I now listen to people more than just talk, and I always try to learn from my mistakes.
On her hopes for the future
Although studying abroad is my dream, and I’m doing my best to aim high consistently, I still hope that soon, I will be able to share my knowledge and experience with my fellow Vietnamese, who are as eager and passionate. Moreover, I will set specific goals to achieve in terms of careers and living location.