It was Lunar New Year last year and my mom was coming back home after she went to see a fortune teller. In Vietnam, particularly in Hue, people had a habit of seeking advice and future predictions from fortune tellers every time they are about to make some big, important life decisions. My mom was one of them. She believed that the spirits of those who passed away or some divine forces could guide her in making the right choice, whether it is to get married or have another baby.
To be honest, I am not so fond of these so-called superstitions. I guess I have grown old enough to know that I should be the one who takes responsibility for what happened to me and experienced enough to realize that marrying a rich husband or owning a villa do not come cheap. But it was not until around the last Tet did I make up my mind.
Coming home, my mom told me I was not destined to study abroad. What sounded like all but an unfounded joke ended up making me cry inside. For years, I have been dreaming of studying abroad, the places, the people, the education, and especially the language. By High School, I remembered doing imaginary vlogs of my life abroad, studying my ass off for the IELTS & SAT, handling clubs and schoolwork, and stressing over financial aid.
What do you mean I was not cut out for overseas education? What is the ideal person to go abroad anyway? Was I just born with an innate inability to survive in countries other than Vietnam? Those questions kept haunting me, especially after I decided to study at VinUni and got asked by everyone, relatives and friends, “Why do you stay?”
For a while, I made a promise to myself to set those dreams aside until the time is right. Now that I am having a 6-month exchange program in Sydney, I realized that maybe my fortune teller was right. If I were still my 18-year-old self, not knowing if Business was the right major and if the US was the right country, studying abroad would not be destined for me.
It was the fact that I discovered my love for Business and found my support system at VinUni (friends and professors with whom you can share every single struggle of studying away) that made me deserving of a chance to go.
It took time and a lot of fortune (literally) but I’m glad I’m here.
Sydney is 4 hours before Ha Noi so it was early morning in Vietnam when I was writing this piece. Ever since we arrived in Australia, it felt as if we had four hours on hand to spare. When you guys wake up at 7AM over there in the Northern Hemisphere, we would already have our breakfast, a 2-hour class and probably a nap. Many of my workaholic (or play-a-holic) friends even tried to go to sleep by Vietnamese time and get up at Australian time. Said, she hit the hay at 0AM (GMT+7) and got up at 7AM (GMT+11). It would only take her 3 hours in what feels like a 7-hour sleep. To be clear, this is a joke, so don’t take it seriously for the sake of your sleep quality, but in some way, you can use different time zones as an excuse for getting up late or skipping your breakfast.
Sydney was a slow-paced city, or should I say all of Australia? To someone who was so used to the America-like hustle bustle at VinUni, I was seriously having a lifestyle shock. They walk at such a speed that the Registrar’s Office answers your requests and talk with so many accents I feel like walking past a Cross-Cultural Navigation class. Almost every shop is closed by 5PM and nightlife is virtually non-existent if you live 20 minutes away from the city center. But if you are an introverted xenophile (like me), the combination of cultural fusion streams and a tranquil lifestyle makes for a perfect study away experience. It has been 2 weeks since I set foot in Sydney and the more I explore Aussie life, I know I have made the right decision (no need of a fortune teller!)
Sign in or become a Sincerely, VinUnians member to join the conversation.
Just enter your email below to get a log in link.