Moving from Vietnam to Derby: My experience as an international student

Travelling thousands of miles to study is a challenge at any time but Huyen took on this challenge during a pandemic. For her, it was worth it, to pursue her goal of making a career out of helping others fulfil their potential.

Journey to Derby

Working in Vietnam and Singapore in organisational development made me realise how making the right career choice, and driving career development can positively impact individual well-being and organisational growth as a whole. Therefore, moving from Vietnam to Derby for a Masters in Careers Education and Coaching was my turning point.

I decided that I wanted to pursue my passion, whilst learning how I could help people of all ages to improve their own wellbeing through their career choice, and their own personal development. Coming to the UK this time was one of the most difficult decisions I made, as my family was very concerned about the impact of COVID-19. However, I wondered if I deferred my offer to next year, whether the situation would be different, or there might be other barriers stopping me.

Furthermore, this pandemic is a critical time for people to seek guidance and support on upskilling and reskilling themselves to cope with the situation. Those reasons pushed me to take the risk and move my life to Derby.

The most attractive reason for choosing my course was that it was one of only five in the UK accredited by the Career Development Institute (the UK’s leading professional body in the career guidance sector). Derby also has a strong reputation for teaching quality and a well-known research centre in this field (iCeGs), giving me the chance to connect with and learn from its experts.

The people I spoke to couldn’t have been any more understanding about my concerns and challenges as an international student, and they fully supported me to begin my new life.

Before arriving, I was added into a WhatsApp group that included other South East Asian students. I started to make new friends, and get support from dedicated staff, who guided me through everything as I transitioned, which made me feel cared for and secure for my first trip to the UK.

Broad experience and support

I have received good academic support from the beginning. My lecturers are passionate and have a deep knowledge of their subject, which inspires me a lot. I also regularly meet with my personal academic tutor to discuss my progress. Our online learning system, Blackboard, has given me the same experience as I would have had in a face-to-face class, with group discussions, group work and collaborative activities.

Outside of my lectures, I’m a student representative for my course. This gives me the chance to listen to other students and suggest improvements to the course. I also receive support from other academic staff to join extra-curricular activities such as volunteering, seeking part-time jobs and joining mentoring programmes. This has really helped me to start engaging with UK life and broaden my networks and skills required for my future career.

Looking ahead

Looking to the future, I plan to gain more experience in the UK after graduation and before returning to Vietnam. My aim is to help strengthen our career guidance system and contribute my expertise to help improve wellbeing in developing countries through lifelong guidance policies.

I firmly believe that investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make – this course at Derby is the beginning of my lifelong investment

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