Meet Nguyễn Hoàng Hải Vy, known by her English name Venelia, a 21-year-old from Đồng Nai whose journey through life has been nothing short of inspiring. With a population of around 10,000, her childhood in the small town was marked by the tranquility of rural living. However, her aspirations stretched far beyond the borders of her village.
In 2013, Vy’s life took a pivotal turn as she moved to Ho Chi Minh City to attend an international school. This shift opened up new horizons and opportunities. From the get-go, she dreamt of studying abroad in the USA, a goal that faced setbacks with two initial denials. Undeterred, she embraced change and transitioned to Võ Thị Sáu High School in Bình Thạnh District, where her journey took a remarkable turn.
Vy’s unyielding spirit finally bore fruit when she secured an exchange student scholarship and a successful visa application on her fourth attempt. This triumph led her across continents to the heart of South Kensington, London, UK, where she currently resides.
When asked what motivated her to study abroad, Vy simply said, “My passion for success and my eagerness for knowledge and experience.”
The path to this moment was marked by both challenges and triumphs. When the pandemic hit, Vy found herself back in Vietnam, navigating online education to complete her high school studies. She continued on a unique educational journey, opting to study Hotel Operations Management at The Imperial International Hotel College in Vũng Tàu. This strategic choice positioned her for a seamless transition to Leeds Beckett University, where she graduated with a BSc in Hospitality Business Management in July 2023.
Vy’s choice to study in the UK was underpinned by practical considerations. The one-year duration of the program, in contrast to the longer commitments required in the USA and the allure of a two-year graduate visa, swayed her decision. The partnership between Leeds Beckett University and her college facilitated a smoother application process, making her dream more accessible.
In this episode of Study Abroad, Vy shared her journey — a combination of passion, determination, and unwavering support. Balancing academic pursuits with part-time work, she managed to finance her education through scholarships, part-time employment, and her parents’ support.
On her preparation before leaving Vietnam
While experiences may vary for everyone, gaining knowledge about my university, understanding my destination, and setting clear goals has been immensely beneficial. This clarity has guided me through the challenges and stressors I’ve faced. With unwavering faith and defined objectives, I feel empowered, knowing I’m striving for something truly meaningful.
On her daily routine
My Front Office shifts run from 7:00 to 15:30 or 13:30 to 22:00. I’m up 2 hours prior, and depending on my mood and weather, I’ll walk (45 mins) or bus (20-30 mins) to work. After finishing my 8.5-hour shift, I unwind in my flat, cooking dinner and holding off eating until I’ve found an intriguing YouTube video. Lately, I’ve been hooked on Đệ Nhất Mưu Sinh, Ca Sĩ Mặt Nạ, and 2 Ngày 1 Đêm. Vietcetera’s vero own First, Lady, and Have A Sip are my picks for reflective moments.
On what keeps her going
I’d say my dream and my family. Raised by working-class parents who’ve climbed life’s ladder with determination, their embodiment of diligence, ambition, and kindness deeply influences me. Their journey inspires me and fuels my drive to ensure financial security for our family.
My aspirations span across several domains: in an industry led predominantly by men, figures like Katerina Giannouka remind me of the potential of women. I relentlessly strive for excellence in my role, not necessarily eyeing the executive suite, but with the faith that dedication transcends gender. Simultaneously, I envision collaborating with philanthropic networks in Vietnam to uplift the marginalized.
My love for meaningful conversations shines through my recreational desires; I am enthralled by intimate dialogues, especially in podcasts that touch on resilience and life. Being a voice on such a platform, influencing and motivating, is a milestone I ardently wish to achieve.
On staying connected to her family and friends in Vietnam
I make it a point to connect with my parents at least twice a week, typically on my days off, and with my friends about four times weekly. Dinner time, between 18:00 and 19:30, is my family’s favored window for chats; it’s when everyone gathers at the table, allowing us to catch up collectively. As for my friends, our calls are more spontaneous, aligning with moments when our schedules conveniently intersect.
On building relationships abroad
During my time in Leeds, while working part-time at a Vietnamese restaurant, I grew incredibly fond of my colleagues. We were all Vietnamese, bonding deeply over shared values and cultural ties. However, since relocating to London to work in a hotel, the cultural tapestry around me shifted. Now, my workspace is diverse, including English, Spanish, Chinese, Hungarian, French, Italian, and Filipino colleagues.
This eclectic mix was initially unfamiliar, but it has become the highlight of my job. The team’s camaraderie, support, and warmth have been pivotal to my growth. What stands out the most is our mutual respect for each other’s cultures, values, and personal boundaries outside the workplace. I am immensely thankful for this wonderful team and their cultivated environment.
On having an English name
Regardless of its pronunciation, my name holds significance for me. I do have an English name, Vy, inspired by the Amazons – immortal warriors from the mystical island of Themyscira. It’s a mighty moniker that resonates with aspects of my persona. However, when introducing myself, I always prefer using my Vietnamese name. It’s the name lovingly chosen by my parents, steeped in meaning and consideration, and how I wish to be known and remembered.
On the importance of nurturing creativity
Fortunately, my passion aligns seamlessly with my career, giving my job a sense of purpose and fulfillment. But beyond the professional realm, there’s a side to me that values personal downtime. After the rigors of work, I find solace in simple pleasures, whether cooking, watching Netflix, or diving into podcasts and audiobooks on YouTube.
My daily journaling serves as a reminder of life’s daily gifts. Everyone’s post-work routine is unique, and it’s crucial not to get caught in the comparison trap. Dr. Giản’s insights from ’Have A Sip’ episode 113 resonate with me: it’s not about drawing a line between work and personal life but integrating them harmoniously. Ultimately, while downtime is essential for well-being, there’s no prescribed way to spend it; it’s all about emotional resonance.
On what she learned from studying abroad
Navigating life abroad has offered me profound insights. One of the most poignant is realizing that physical distances can inadvertently lead to emotional gaps; sometimes, I even create emotional distances. My overseas journey is uniquely mine, not dictated by universal notions of right or wrong but by personal experiences and feelings.
As I journey through this phase, my passion, dreams, and steadfast dedication serve as my compass. While others might offer their perspectives, I’ve learned it’s essential to remember that my choices profoundly shape my story. It’s crucial for me to stay true to myself, undeterred by the opinions of fleeting acquaintances or even well-intentioned friends.
On how her outlook on life has evolved
I hold myself with confidence and take pride in my authentic self. Instead of getting lost in the endless chase of success or yearning for others’ approval without truly valuing my journey, I focus inward. I’m committed to perpetual learning, betterment, and growth because my life is a reflection of who I am. As I continuously evolve, I trust that my life will inherently shift towards greater fulfillment.
On dealing with challenges
While living abroad, homesickness and loneliness are inevitable. Remembering my life’s purpose helps me navigate these feelings. I often ask myself: Is my vision for my life worth these sacrifices? Time is precious, and decisions should prioritize my happiness. As I find contentment, everything else aligns. The stark reality is I am the sole captain of my journey amid life’s transience. Embracing solitude and self-reliance now can be empowering. It’s crucial to offer myself the understanding and positivity I seek because, if I don’t, how can I expect it from others?
On her hopes for the future
I’m focused on completing my internship at The Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel and progressing to the Graduate Management Program of The Red Carnation Hotel Collection next year. My aspirations also include pursuing an MSc at the Glion Institute of Higher Education, ideally before turning 27, with a semester each in London and Switzerland. My professional trajectory is directed towards Operations and Revenue, aiming for roles like Director of Rooms or Country Revenue Manager within a decade. Vietnam and Singapore are my preferred locations for deep-rooted growth and specialization.
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?