Vietnamese student Hoang Minh Tran had long dreamed of studying in the United States. As an aspiring chemistry major, he knew that American institutions offered some of the most modern tools and practical teaching methods, to better help him acquire new skills and succeed on his examinations.
Of the many American schools on his radar, Hoang chose to first study at the College of Charleston, not only for its ranking amongst other universities, but its history as the first college established in South Carolina. Hoang was also attracted to the South Carolina climate, which is very similar to that of his hometown in Vietnam.
Although Hoang aspired to study Chemical Engineering at an American university, he realized that he would first have to improve his English proficiency. He enrolled in the CofC English Language Institute, and with hard work, soon saw improvement. “When I came to CofC, my pronunciation was very bad,” says Hoang, “but my teachers helped me and I … made myself talk to people to practice.”
Studying has featured very prominently during Hoang’s time at the CofC, but it is far from his only activity. Hoang has found it easy to make friends, and has enjoyed joining them in travels around Charleston and – over school breaks – nearby states, such as Georgia and Florida. Hoang and his friends have also explored local Vietnamese eateries, though this has not diminished Hoang’s longing for his mother’s homemade specialities: “I miss my mother’s traditional food. (It is) the best in the world. … I tried many Vietnamese (dishes), but they were not (similar to) my mom’s dishes.”
Hoang hopes to become a chemical engineer and eventually work for the SABIC oil and gas company. He credits his studies at the College of Charleston for reinforcing the need to practice new skills, and for preparing him to better understand the principles of chemistry. “The U.S. education gave me a practical (skills) and that is what I need,” Hoang explains. Hoang will next be matriculating to a Chemical Engineering program at another university; he is sad that such a program is not available at the CofC.
Hoang has nothing but positive feedback regarding his time at the College of Charleston, and regarding the United States in general, describing it as a modern country inhabited by kind, lovely people. His enthusiasm bubbles over when asked if he would recommend an American education to other international students: “The U.S.A is the best country for education. So if you want to study abroad in the U.S., make up your dream and follow it.”
For more information about the English Proficiency programs available at the College of Charleston, contact the English Language Institute.