Greenville University Blogs

My GU Story with Benjamin Nguyen: The Transition from Vietnam to Central Illinois

2020_benjaimin_nguyen_2Q: Start by introducing yourself.

A: First of all, thank you for having me. My name is Benjamin. You guys can call me Ben or Benny and I’m an international student from Vietnam. It is a very beautiful country, small but great. You can travel to my country and explore history, culture, and everything. It’s such an amazing country. My major is English, just like you. I know that because I’ve met you before. My minor is Spanish. My enneagram type is number 2 like the giver, always positive, and optimistic. I always try to give people positive energy. 


Q: What do you do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies?

A: I love cooking, especially the traditional dishes from my country. I love them all. I love singing, as well. I love dancing. I used to perform in many events in my country for the ambassadors for Latino America. I also have a small dance group with my friends. I love sharing things. I love making videos. I have my own YouTube channel and it’s really amazing. I love sharing things about my experience, about how to study English, how to study Spanish as well, and how to cook my favorite food. That is everything in my channel. 


Q: Are you trilingual then? Are you fluent in Spanish? 

A: I would say that I’m not fluent in Spanish, but I can communicate at the basic level. 


Q: So, what’s your favorite dish to cook?

A: Vietnamese or American dish?


Q: Both!

A: My favorite Vietnamese dish is pho. Do you know that? It’s like a rice, noodle that’s really famous. The second one, i have two, is Banh Mi. It’s kind of like bread with various fillings, toppings, and different sauces. My favorite American dish is cheesecake, I would say. My all time favorite is the traditional one; the New York style. It’s incredible. I do not know how to bake it. I fail at it all the time. 


Q: Have you ever been to the cheesecake factory? 

A: Never.


Q: You have to check it out. It’s really good. 

A: Is that the factory that sells ice cream as well?


Q: Ah, I don’t know if they have ice cream. It’s like a sit-down restaurant, but they specialize in cheesecakes.

A: Oh, I will check it out after this session. 


2020_benjamin_nguyenQ: Let’s talk about how you came all the way from Vietnam. How did you find Greenville? Why did you choose it?

A: Do you believe in destiny? I do believe. So basically, there is an interview for a scholarship given by Dr. Geet. She traveled from American to Vietnam to offer a scholarship to a good student, even though I’m not. I try to be humble, but it’s okay. I met her in Vietnam and at first I didn’t want to move to American to study because it is too far from my hometown and I’m too old. I was like, “Maybe I should pass the opportunity to the other.” But I met with Dr. Geet and she talked to me and she was like, “You are a good student and I want you at Greenville.” Oh really? If you say that, I agree. That’s the reason why I am here today. Another reason is Dr. Geet’s friends, Renae Bauer, inspired me a lot. She said, “You are really a missing piece of Greenville right now, so you have to come. You need to prove to everyone how good you are.” She inspired me a lot, so that’s why I’m here. 


Q: Did you do any research before you came here?

A: Definitely. I did a lot of research. The very first video that I saw was an overview of Greenville University and I found a YouTuber that does a lot of Greenville videos. His last name is Garcia. Erick, right? He inspired me a lot. Oh my gosh! I love the dorm. I love everything. I should be here because I want to take a lot of great photos. I love that. And there are a lot of majors. There are so many options for students to choose. And the ratio between the students and the teachers is really low and I think that is such a good opportunity to improve the connection between the professor and the student. That’s really nice. 


Q: Why did you choose English?

A: My dream job is to become a teacher, an English teacher in Vietnam because I really want to help my students and other people to have the best approach to the new language. So, at first my major was Spanish because I really wanted to challenge myself a bit. But then, I realized that Spanish is really difficult and really competitive. I’m not good enough. Why choose the hard one instead of the easy one? So, I decided to choose English.  


Q: Does any part of you want to do English Education?

A: English is not my native language, so I really want to go step-by-step and get to know English and understand exactly what it is so I can share the current information to my students. That is much better. 


Q: What have you been able to accomplish because of the program? What do you really like about the English program?

A: Actually, it’s just my first semester here, so I do not have much experience. But, I would say, I love it! I love every single thing. I like my professor. He helps me with everything. He helps me to sketch the path and help me find the appropriate classes to study. I think it’s pretty amazing. When I checked the syllabus, I saw a lot of classes that I like. Literature, technical writing, the TESL certificate, I love that. It’s like the whole package that provides you the whole career. 


Q: What professor are you talking about?

A: Dr. Marshall. He’s incredible.


Q: What would you say your favorite class has been? 

A: That is a difficult question. I love them all. Each class has its own unique things. Like theology, I love that one. At first, I thought it was incredibly hard. I was like, “No, I will not study that class.” But after like two or three classes, I loved it. It’s a way for you to approach a new religion. I’m not religious, so it’s great to learn more about the world, especially Christianity. I’ve never done any research about it before. It is a really good way for me to learn. 

Q: Are you talking about the THEO 110 class with the trip? Did you go on the trip?

A: Yeah! It was incredible. The trip was tiring. Our schedule was like a world tour. If I was a singer, I would be like this. I wish I had more time to learn about it, because it’s just like gibberish. I really like the Dr. Marshall classes. He gave me book recommendations and I really love them. There is one book that I finished in three days. It was Educated by Tara [Westover]. That book depicts myself. I can feel myself within that book. It’s really incredible.


Q: What were your expectations coming into Greenville? Were those expectations met or exceeded?

A: Greenville exceeded every expectation. For me, I just wanted to focus on my major, but Greenville University does more than that. It helps me to understand the culture, the religion, my major, the community, as well, not just about my major. The first time I came here, I talked to myself like, “Okay, just do your best. Focus only on your studies. You should not care about others.” But, that is the wrong approach. I think I should be more open to getting more knowledge about the world, not only my major. 


Q: Can you talk about your experience growing up and Vietnam and how it’s been here at a Christian school?

A: In Vietnam, we have more than 50 ethnics, and each of the ethics have its own religion. It’s really hard to describe one, but the most common one is worshiping our ancestors. In northern Vietnam we have a religion called Mother Goddess. We appreciate the mother. In the world, I do not see many other countries that appreciate the mother, like trying to upgrade a new level of the woman. So, I think it’s really amazing that all the Vietnamese people can appreciate the mother, grandmother, and their ancestors. So that is part of my religion. We also have a lot of temples. We have a lot of churches. We have a lot of pagattas to pray. But, for me, I don’t go there very often. I go there on the first day of the new year. I just pray to get some lucky things. That is all. There is just a big difference between my country’s religion and Christianity. So, I think it’s pretty amazing. Now, I can understand a bit about the religion, about Christianity, about Islam, everything. I think it’s really good. I love making comparisons between the religion in Vietnam and Christianity. Even though we have some common things, there are still differences between the two of them. It’s really amazing to find out. 


Q: What would you say the majority religion in Vietnam is? 

A: I would say ancestry, rather than Christianity, even though we have it. 


Q: I had no idea that was a religion. That’s really cool. 

A: Yeah. Do you know the day of the dead in Mexico? It’s kind of like that, but instead of making feast we just gather family members to talk about their ancestors and what we liked about them when they were still alive. 


Q: So, you say you want to be a teacher?

A: Yeah, definitely! That is my dream. 


Q: How do you feel like Greenville is preparing you fulfill that?

A: I love that question, honestly. It is really incredible to say that Greenville has prepared me for everything. Like I said before, Greenville does not only provide me for my career, not only English, but it also helps me to understand about the society, community, and religion. Because we have a lot of pieces of literature and art that are related to American, I also want to be able to bring that to my students. To help them understand it, I need to understand it first, so I will have a chance to teach them. Greenville also teaches me how to be professional. They teach me how to be a professional worker, good teacher, and everything about how to behave with other professors, how to call a professor, and how to write an email. It’s just very small things, but the small things create a great person. I think that’s amazing to stay in Greenville. 


Q: What’s the best thing about Greenville?

A: The nature. Greenville, exactly like that- Green! The green covers everything in our university. From school, to classes, to my dorm as well. Compared to my country, I rarely see trees, because I’m from the capital, a big city with lots of noise. But, I come here, and it’s so tranquil. It is amazing. I can sleep all day, like a bear. It’s kind of like hibernating. I love taking photos of trees and our school. I have about 1,000 photos since I’ve been here. It’s really incredible. I love staying here. A lot of people complain about it, but come to my country, and you will stop complaining. It is pretty amazing to stay here. I always go to Scott Field and lay down. I love nature! That’s kind of like my personality. 


Q: What’s your favorite part about being in college?

A: My two hashtags would be independence and nature. Being independent is really tough. It’s really challenging, because for me, I have to stay really far from my family. I have to worry about everything, my studies but also my work, my health as well, my food as well, because there are a couple foods that I cannot eat in the DC. It’s really tough. The second one is mature, because you have to take care of yourself. You have to be good at managing time, scheduling things, and doing more research, and doing everything by yourself. It is really hard at first, but once you get used to it you will be a better person I would say.


Q: Do you feel like the DC has done a good job adjusting to your dietary restrictions?

A: I understand that the taste American’s prefer is mainly two flavors, saltiness and sweetness. In Vietnam, we try to combine everything, all the main pieces together to make a really good dish, like a five-star restaurant dish. But, I try to adopt it. I should not complain about it because I’m staying here in your country. I should not complain about it. It is different, but there are a couple foods that I really like. Sometimes we have pasta. Sometimes we have salad, and I am on a diet, so I really need salad. 


Q: What’s some advice that you have for students coming into college? Maybe for students from your country or from here, any student looking to come to college.

A: I have two. One is for my Vietnamese people and one is for the other. I would say to my Vietnamese friend, prepare yourself. They definitely have to do it, because I know that that Vietnamese student is not really hard working. They are not really independent, so they definitely have to train themself to be more independent. And to the other, also prepare yourself, but be more active. In school, there are a variety of activities to enjoy, so do not come back to your nutshell. Just spread out. Just spread your wings and do everything you like. 


Q: Is there anything you have gotten involved with since you’ve been on campus? Or is there something you would like to get involved in?

A: I would love to, but at first I’m always really shy, but I need to find some more information. I love to sing, so I really want to try to sing in the choir, for example. I love to do social media things. I love to do commercials, everything. I really want to learn that. 


Q: Do you have any last words for our listeners?

A: Please support me if I try any clubs, love me, and like my picture on my Instagram!