I love to call myself a “true” international student. Not that other people from other parts of the world are not. It’s just that my experience is probably a little bit more colorful.
Fontbonne is the school located in the third country that I’ve spent my studying “career”. I went through primary and secondary schools in my hometown – Vietnam, and moved on to be a junior college – high school equivalent – student in Singapore.
Everything was different in each of the country I’ve spent a sufficient amount being a resident, not a traveler. Vietnam was quite, what you would call, the typical developing country that is still lacking economic development, good healthcare plan and most important of all, education. Most of the things we studied are theories, and rarely were there any hands-on experiences. We do not emphasize outside-the-classroom activities, and even when physical education was made a compulsory subject, it was taken lightly by both the teachers and students. Though we’ve been trying to change, it will be a long battle. All that I had, for the better, at that time, were my family and friends, who I’ve known for a long time. The academic experience was not too useful, but I had a fun, loving and meaningful childhood surrounded by love.
After that, I went on to study in Singapore under a scholarship that came with both my hard work and probably lots of luck. After my four years in Singapore, I often jokingly tell my schoolmates that Singapore is like the wasabi California roll. It’s half Asian, and half American, and extreme. Why? We often deemed that in Asian culture, academic results are the most important thing, and professions with high knowledge levels like doctors or lawyers should be the goal for every Asian (mostly East Asian) child. This is a generalization, but it’s true. In Asia, there are cases where people study until they commit suicide. Which is a little extreme, but you know you have to be in their shoes to know what’s going on. And then, in America, or the Western culture, natural and free development seemed to be appreciated, and Western students tend to do well in their co-curriculum activities. Singapore has both. Young Singaporeans strive to be on top of the Dean’s list, while scoring their team that deciding point. That was probably why my life in Singapore was really stressful, because from a person who only knew how to have fun, I have to force myself to be organized, disciplined, and studious. I failed to do all of those at the same time, and my time in Singapore was a rather unpleasant experience.
I went on to crazily search for a university. Because this time, I want to pursue what I truly want to do for my life. And then I got accepted by Fontbonne. My first few months here so far have been enjoyable. It’s like I finally have the chance to live the life I want, my own life. I would stroll around the school in sunny mornings, wrap myself up in my bed on cold nights, I can do what I imagine a “life” should be like, and I feel happy. Besides that, the amount of knowledge I receive every day, in or out of class is enormous, but engaging. It makes me want to dig in more, it makes my studying become something I enjoy doing. People here are friendly, and are so ready to help. Everyone, from my classmates to my teachers, from people I’m getting to know to people I randomly meet on the street. You all seem to have a bright smile that almost always comes with a kind greeting ever last on your face. Sometimes that smile of yours saves my day.
I could say that, I have everything I’ve ever wanted here in Fontbonne. A good education, a good life.