The International Center is committed to facilitating an enriching college experience for the international community at UC Irvine. Meet Your Fellow Anteater is an opportunity for us to connect international students by highlighting the involvements, accomplishments, and experiences of the outstanding students in our community. Don't be afraid to say "hi" when you see your fellow anteater around campus.
Year : Sophomore
Major : Biological Sciences
Home Country : Vietnam
Native Language : Vietnamese
1. What is your favorite American food/snack?
I am a huge food-lover so having to pick out my favorite American food is a hard decision. I boil down the list to my top two favorite which are poke bowl and wings. Poke is a Hawaiian cuisine that has been popular in California for the past few years. Poke is similar to sushi but I think of it as package deal. A bowl of poke has endless options of rice, raw protein, sauces, veggie and toppings with enough nutrients needed. It is healthy, refreshing, and Instagram-worthy. To those who love raw fish and sushi, I highly recommend trying it out.
My second favorite is chicken wings, specifically at Buffalo Wild Wings. They are delicious and fast finger food. Even though wings are messy, I like the idea of ordering several flavors and sharing them. To me, wings are a social food that forces me and my friends to decide together and engage one another over the meal.
2. If you would have a conversation with one person (fictional, living, deceased), who would it be and why?
I would love to have a conversation with Ellen DeGeneres. I adore her bubbly personality. She is funny, enthusiastic and has the biggest heart. Her show never fails to bring me laughter and sometimes tears because of her generosity and good deeds. Her unique quality spreads love and positive energy to people around. I would love to be in her audience one day.
3. What are three words you would use to describe yourself and why?
Family-oriented: I love spending time with my family as a way to destress myself from school and the adult world. Being away from my family makes me appreciate and value the time I have with them.
Meticulous is how I see myself while working in a team and on my own. I pay attention to small details because those are the last puzzle pieces to complete a big picture. Being meticulous can take a few extra minutes but those minutes can go a long way.
Nap fanatic: As active and involved as I can be with school and extracurricular, there is a lazy side of me that loves naps. I treat myself to a nap occasionally knowing that I have worked hard. Napping is also a good way to destress and scientifically proven to improve mood, performance, and alertness. For anyone who is reading this at the moment, take a step back to relax and spare 20-30 minutes for a nap to take care of your mental health
4. Why did you choose to come to UCI for college?
3 main reasons that have brought me to UCI for college are family, food, and weather. I am not ready to leave the nest and be away from the good food so I remain in Irvine area which is close enough to visit homes every other week. The weather in SoCal is incomparable. Nowhere can beat the sunny California; it is not freezing cold like the winter in East Coast or burning hot like the summer of Arizona.
5. Who or what inspires/motivates you in life/in school? Is there a specific quote or phrase that you live by?
As cheesy as it may sound, my parents motivate me to work hard and always give the best of myself in whatever I decide to do. Seeing how much they have sacrificed to provide me a proper education and anything I ever wanted, I am beyond grateful and would want to give back to them one day.
A quote that really speaks to me is “Jealousy comes from counting others’ blessings instead of our own.” It is reminder to stay humble and be appreciated.
6. What are some of your involvements here at UCI?
I am an I-STEPS Leader for Fall and Winter classes 2016. In terms of clubs, I am currently an intern for APAMSA (Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association) and a member of IMED (International Medicine Education and Development). In my freshman year, I was involved in Circle K and Vision Leadership Course. I also held a position as Lab Assistant for the department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at McGaugh Hall.
I participated in APAMSA and IMED which are beneficial to my interests and my career plan in heathcare. Not only have I built connections with people sharing similar interests, I also enhanced my professional and social skills. It is a win-win situation. Being a lab assistant also gave me a glimpse of how research would be like and that is what I am looking into at the moment.
7. What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them? What advice do you have for other international students currently adjusting to life in the United States?
My biggest challenge was to ask for help. Graduating from a catholic high school in class 2015 of 150 students to a public university whose lecture hall can hold double my graduated class size, it was overwhelming. I found professors harder to approach and carried a stigma that they would not be as friendly as high school teachers. I was proven wrong. It was during Winter quarter of my first year when I took Chemistry 1B. I was unclear with an abstract concept. I read the book – didn’t understand, asked my friends – hard to visualize. I decided to attend my professor’s office hour. He thoroughly explained the concept using models and even gave additional examples to practice. That is when I realized professors were far from what I thought, indeed friendly and easy to approach.
So don’t be afraid to go to Office hour and seek for help from the professionals (staffs, instructors, professors, etc). They can come off as intimidating when lecturing a class of 300-400 students but they are the nicest during office hour!
8. What is your favorite experience at UCI and/or the U.S. so far?
Hands down to being an I-STEPS Leader. It was such a fun and unforgettable experience. It is the people [instructors, staff, interns, other Leaders] who I worked with make me enjoy what I did. There were nonstop laughter, stories, jokes, and conversations during weekly staff meeting. Working in a supportive and encouraging environment such as the IC really brought the best out of myself. The perks of being an I-STEPS Leader are to meet students from around the world, be their resources, and help them adjust to the new community away from home.
9. What would people be surprised to know about you?
Ambidexterity – being equally adept in the use of both the left and the right hand. I am able to do lots of things such as writing, holding chopsticks, etc with both hands easily. I am not sure if people are surprised but my friends and family found it cool when they first heard about it.
10. As an international student, what have you learned (or are learning) that has made a difference in your life?
The importance of getting involved. Getting involved sounds like a scary idea and it was definitely for me. Little did I know that being involved in different clubs and organizations on campus would open so many doors to me. I am glad to have known many sweet and talented people at the IC and made long lasting friendships thanks to Circle K and IMED. I also discovered my strengths, overcame my fear of public speaking and developed helpful skills for future career.
11. Any thing else you'd like to share?
A little advice I would like to share with anyone reading this: Get involved and take advantage of resources that UCI has to offer!
Meet Other Fellow International Anteaters