Dang Hoang Thanh Lan
Q: A brief introduction of yourself
A: My name is Lan, and I come from Vietnam. Sponsored by the 911 scholarship from the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training, I was grateful and delighted when arrived in Ireland since February 2017 to attend a PhD programme in Sociology.
Q: What attracted you to study University College Cork?
A: Firstly, UCC has a very well supportive team for international students. They contacted me regularly and was willing to help me every step from applying for the colleges to adapting to the new environment. Then, the more I read about UCC from the internet, the more I looked forward to studying here, for the considerable reputation of UCC as a world-class university.
Q: What was it like adapting to Ireland, It’s people, culture and surroundings?
A: This is totally a warm place regarding the hospitality of Irish people. Even when my place now is quite remote from home, I do not feel lonely at all. One reason maybe because nowadays it has been very easy to make a video call via device phone or laptop connecting to the internet, so we don’t have to be afraid of disconnecting with our family and just more concentrate on the journey in such an interesting land like Ireland. Besides, there is a community of Vietnamese in Cork as well as in Dublin. We usually meet and talk with each other, and it seems that the community is growing since more and more Vietnamese students choose Ireland as their study destination. I believe that students from other countries have their homeland community, too. I think UCC is a multinational university with diverse students’ races and ethnics. Students learn the spirit of equality here, treat kindly to others, and learn from each other’s culture.
Q: If you had to choose your best experience in UCC, which would it be?
A: My best experience in UCC is working with professional, patient and kind teachers, especially my supervisors. They give me practical and useful suggestions, and also give space for me to think independently. The first thing of UCC impressing me and still what I love the most of UCC is the spirit ‘Great minds don’t think alike’. I love the way my teachers accept my idea, help me improve it better, and I have room to be creative myself at the same time. This spirit definitely is not a common thing to see in every school.
Q: Do you consider that your experience in UCC has enhanced your abilities and qualities on a personal and professional level?
A: Surely, yes. To be frank, this is the first time I studied abroad. My English, when I arrived here was very weak, I barely couldn’t speak out a word in any conversation because the traditional method of studying English in my country does not condition students to practice it much, but to passively repeat what teachers say. UCC provides efficient classes for international students. I really appreciate that. Some of my friends from other universities said that they feel a little jealous of me because only UCC provide these English classes for students. When my English skills improve, I feel more interested in studying my own field.
Q: Did you find it easy to make friends on campus and outside of UCC?
A: Yes, people here are very friendly. My housemates talk and try to help me in my English every day.
Q: What is your favourite place on UCC’s campus?
A: Boole library and the grass yard under sunshine.
Q: What is your favourite place in Cork or elsewhere in Ireland and why?
A: I don’t know whether it sounds too simple, but I enjoy every road that I walk and cycle through. I have taken numerous pictures of strikingly pretty and diverse flowers blooming everywhere in Cork. Cork has trails through the forest, roads along rivers, and beachside to go. What more do I need?
Q: Would you encourage other international students to study at UCC and why?
A: Yes, I do. The study environment is above and beyond my expectations. I have nothing to complain. I want more international students like me to come, gain new experiences and spend one of their most beautiful period in life here. Every time I look at the castle, the main building, I tell to myself: ‘Wow, I am living in the dream that I once dreamt when I was a kid - studying in somewhere look like Hogwarts in Harry Potter’s world’.
Q: If you could give other international students advice what would it be?
A: Well, please try to connect with a circle of friends in Cork, for example, with whom come from your country too because there are a lot of questions you may need to ask them about visa, accommodation, transport, GNIB, PPS number, Irish traditional custom, where to go sight-seeing, to buy cheap stuff, or to learn English, etc. UCC provide numerous of societies, groups, activities and services that you can join in or contact as well. So, make acquaintance with somebody, and you will not feel lonely or confused anymore.