Thao Tran from Vietnam: Studying Biochemistry at North Seattle College

Thao Tran from Vietnam: Studying Biochemistry at North Seattle College

Why did you decide to study in the USA?

I want to stay independent of my parents, to gain more experience about life and exposure to a new culture. I have given myself many opportunities to find my passion by studying in the U.S.

Why did you choose North Seattle College?

The friendly studying environment is one of the significant factors. A small class can give students more chances to communicate with instructors, and they can understand lecture material better. Also, North Seattle College (NSC) offers many classes in very different majors and has lower tuition. The location of NSC is awesome. I feel more at home in Seattle, even if it rains a lot.

What do you like best?

Being a student at North Seattle College makes me feel like being home. Instructors, advisors and staff are incredibly friendly. They always try their best to help you, and it is easier to adapt. And I got a lot of chances to make friends through the International Programs activities.

What do you miss most?

I think the festival atmosphere in my country.

What was your biggest surprise?

My biggest surprise about the U.S. education is its creativity. Studying in the U.S. gives me a lot of opportunities to practice what I have learned. I really enjoy it, especially in my major, biochemistry. Every week I need to be in lab class to practice what I have learned in lectures.

How have you handled:

... language differences?

I started to learn English only one year before studying in the U.S. I was very worried at first, but everything went smooth for me. It was a little bit hard to clearly understand books, but by practicing, everything got better and better. My advice is trying to take part in as many activities as possible, so you will have more chances to improve your English.

... finances?

Knowing how to spend money wisely was one of my challenges. My parents give me a certain amount of money, which I can spend for my expenses each quarter. And my duty is knowing how to balance it in a good way so I would not be out of money while I am in the middle of the quarter.   

... adjusting to a different educational system?

Students need to be active and get used to thinking outside of the box to have a great experience in American classes. Here, students need to figure out problems on their own, so it helps them gain a better knowledge about the material. Only showing up to class is not enough, you have to listen and take notes of the lectures, as well.

What are your activities?

Being a student ambassador for the International Programs is an unforgettable experience. By meeting a lot of different students, my communication skills have improved significantly. I have become more confident and enthusiastic.

How easy or difficult was making friends?

People in America are incredibly friendly. They can smile and say ‘hello’ very easy to strangers, and they make me feel I belong to this place. I think it is much easier for me to make friends. By coming to class early, smiling and asking “how are you today?” Yeah! You have new friends!   

How relevant is your U.S. education to your personal goals and to the needs of your country? 

I am majoring in biochemistry and my career goal is to work in the public health field. Public health is in demand in my country, and the government is focusing and investing more in citizen’s health care. I really want to come back to my country and contribute myself to a better health care system.

What is your advice to other students who are considering a U.S. education?

Being prepared with your English, because language is one of the most important factors in communicating with others. You also need to prepare yourself mentally and financially to adapt to a new environment, and try to be as flexible as possible. You will have a great opportunity during your study in the U.S. 

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