Meet Thy Huynh, a 17-year-old Saigonese navigating life as an international student in South Carolina, USA. Growing up, she was molded into a model student by her family’s emphasis on etiquette and academic achievement. However, she missed out on having fun. Despite this, these experiences have evolved into cherished memories influencing her as she forms connections with diverse individuals.
In the calm charm of “The Magic City,” a nickname for Florence, Thy discovers a peaceful contrast to the bustling vibe of her hometown. She enjoys the quiet and scenic seasons, immersing herself in school life at Trinity Collegiate School in the United States. It’s not just about hitting the books; she also explores sports, adding an exciting twist to her academic journey.
Thy’s passion for art and design propels her vision of pursuing Architecture at the University of Cincinnati, a path she’s determined to mold into a meaningful career. Inspired by her brother’s courage, she takes a bold step to carve her narrative in the US.
Mindful of the financial challenges that studying abroad brings, Thy actively seeks scholarships to alleviate her parents’ burden. South Carolina becomes more than a cost-effective education hub; it transforms into her chosen haven. Beyond academics, Thy envisions creating a social media space to document her journey, helping fellow Vietnamese students explore opportunities abroad through digital storytelling.
Thy stands as a beacon, illustrating that intricate dreams unfold with perseverance and a clear vision – one design at a time.
On her preparation before leaving Vietnam
In the rush of preparing for my move to America, my mom was a huge help. She guided me in picking out clothes and essential items, especially Vietnamese fish sauce, which tastes better than what’s available in the US. The excitement of studying abroad mixed with sadness about leaving my family, friends, and home. I made the most of my last days with them, helping at home and cherishing every moment. This made me feel stronger and ready for my new life. As I got on the plane, I felt a mix of nerves and excitement, but mostly, I was eager to start this new chapter.
On her daily routine
My day begins at 5:30 a.m. with planning, breakfast, and a bus ride to school, where I enjoy music and the morning scene. After school ends at 3:30 p.m., I head home for skincare, homework, and language study. I then exercised, showered, and had dinner. My evenings involve family calls and relaxing with painting or music, ending around 11:30 p.m.
On what keeps her going
When I start overthinking or feeling down, I find inspiration in YouTube videos of other international students. These videos rekindle my purpose for studying abroad: to gain and apply new experiences in real life. They encourage me to keep pursuing my dreams. I remind myself of my goal to explore the world, knowing I must keep moving forward for the great opportunities that await.
On staying connected to her family and friends in Vietnam
I’ve learned that nurturing relationships from a distance can be challenging. To stay connected with my family, I text them daily and make phone calls three times a week, ensuring we’re updated on each other’s lives and maintaining our bond.
With friends and teachers, I make it a point to reach out on special occasions like New Year, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Additionally, my friends and I regularly engage on social media, sharing fun moments and pictures to keep the spirit of camaraderie alive despite the distance.
On building relationships abroad
I have mostly friends from Asia and European countries, with some American friends. Since I came to America, I have had a deeper understanding of diversity and an appreciation for various perspectives.
On having an English name
Choosing an English name wasn’t a priority until my friends and teachers struggled with my real name. An English name makes communication with foreigners easier. Selecting one was challenging, but I finally chose ‘Tia’ with my cousin’s help.
Initially odd, it’s phonetically similar to “Hey Thy!” in Vietnamese, which felt personal. Plus, my cousin mentioned a successful person named Tia, making it seem promising. Despite the quirky reasons, I’ve come to love ‘Tia’ as it feels part of my identity.
On the importance of nurturing creativity
I’m deeply committed to understanding and empathizing with others treating everyone with kindness and respect. I believe that interacting with a diverse range of people beyond my university broadens my compassion. Engaging with individuals of varied backgrounds, genders, and ages is a learning journey that enhances my growth and passion for human connection.
On what she learned from studying abroad
I’ve gained valuable insights in my nearly two years of studying abroad. I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of English in its various accents and realized that Vietnamese food is unparalleled in its homeland. I’ve learned the importance of connecting with loved ones, even if just through phone calls. Most importantly, I’ve mastered balancing my life and prioritizing my mental health.
On how her outlook on life has evolved
In my two years studying in America, I’ve grown significantly, becoming more open-minded and learning to value cultural diversity. Daily interactions with locals have given me insights and knowledge that can help modernize and improve life in Vietnam. I’m excited to share these experiences and contribute to Vietnam’s development and evolution.
On dealing with challenges
My first few months in the US were tough, with homesickness and language challenges. I coped by keeping in touch with loved ones back home, befriending international and local students, and focusing on self-care. Gradually, I adapted and developed new routines and interests, reinforcing a positive mindset. This experience taught me about the limitless potential for adaptation and the importance of embracing new challenges.
On her hopes for the future
As I near the end of high school, contemplating my major and university choice, I’m particularly drawn to my passion for art and design. I’m aiming for a bachelor’s degree and considering graduate school in Germany or England. I envision gaining experience and evolving into the person I aspire to be, capable of supporting myself and my family, and contributing to charitable endeavors.
I’m determined to find fulfillment in my career and enjoy my work. Additionally, I hope to meet a life partner who shares my dreams and passions, with whom I can grow, evolve, and possibly start a small business together.
This or That
Movies or books?
I usually like books more than movies. I enjoy the beauty of storytelling through words, and I often find that movies based on books can lose or change important parts, messing with the original story.
Cats or dogs?
I prefer dogs because they’re easier to care for and have a laid-back attitude, although I have affection for both cats and dogs.
Fresh juice or smoothie?
I am not really into fruits, so I would prefer smoothies here.
Shopping in-store or online?
I prefer in-store shopping, especially for clothes. Being particular about fit and style, I value the opportunity to try items on before purchasing, ensuring better choices.
Instagram or X?
I have yet to use X, and since most of my friends and family connect with me on Instagram, I’d choose Instagram.
Give a speech or write a paper?
I prefer to give speeches, as I’m adept at communicating information to an audience orally and generally find speech preparation quicker than writing papers.