Monday, January 12, 2015

Student Success Story: Sean Le (Vietnam)

Name: Sean Le
Home Country: Vietnam

Going to Canada was not my decision; it was my parents’. While I was a freshman in high school, I learned of my parents’ plan to send me to Canada. I didn’t like it and tried my best to change their minds. It didn’t work. So I knew I had to comply. Therefore, I started going to English classes, learning to cook and do clothes alterations, researching about lifestyles in Canada, etc… all in order to prepare for studying in a foreign country. After three years of that, I was confident I would be well-prepared.
Sean Le
Sean Le
However, when I arrived in Canada, it still challenged me more than I had thought. The biggest barrier that I had to overcome at first was communication. My English at the time was not as good as now and because of that, I was embarrassed to start conversations. As a result, for the first few months, I barely made any friends. I was scared to speak English to the point that every time I was about to order food or check out my purchases, I had to think ahead of what I was going to say. Not only English, the fact that I am from an Eastern culture and was living in a country whose culture is entirely different made it difficult for me to understand and respond to what people said. Sometimes, I was afraid to give my comments or opinions because I was not sure if they would offense anyone or not. Being totally new to Canada, having trouble communicating and making friend, having no clue what to do, jobless, etc.—these caused struggles in the first few months.

Vietnamese Event @ Humber
Lunar New Year Event @ Humber
Everything started to change when I started working as a server in a Vietnamese restaurant. When I received my first pay in my life, I cried for the first time since arriving in Canada. For me, working was not just about paying my expenses by my own effort; it meant more than that. It helped me develop a sense of maturity and confidence: it made me appreciate the sacrifice my parents made for me more than ever – it made me work harder and push my limits; it also helped me gain a lot of confidence since I could start taking care of myself on my own.

Besides work, Humber was one of the many factors that contributed to my maturity. Studying in this institution has been one of the most valuable experiences of my life. Before I started my accounting degree program, I had been totally clueless about the subject or anything about business. But with the deep knowledge and enthusiastic teaching of the professors in my program, I could understand them and grow fond of these business matters. Now, I can see and analyze things from a business-related perspective, different from how I did one year ago. In addition to my professors, my classmates are what I like about my program. They are smart individuals who are passionate about accounting, just like how I am. We can talk about typical teenage topics, but we can also seriously and rationally discuss an economics issue when we want.

Sean Le speaking at Vietnamese Event
Sean speaking at Lunar New Year Event
Outside the classroom, Humber provides a lot of opportunities for pursuing my own interests and improving my real-life skills. Out of all the extracurricular activities that were available, I chose to become a part of the Vietnamese Students’ Association. As a student advisor of the group, I can do what I am passionate about: helping others. Also, because of my job, I had to meet and talk with a lot of new people; through that, I made new friends and greatly improved my communication skills. After several months working with the group, I have gained a lot of unforgettable memories. Some of the friends I have made here have become important parts of my life.

There is a saying that “You become luckier when you work harder” – I think this is totally correct. I am now a server in a restaurant, working as a tutor on campus, serving my Vietnamese peer community as a student advisor and pursuing my own interests and dreams while maintaining good grades at school. Even though sometimes these activities exhaust me, I have not quit because I know they will surely payoff. As a result, I am now taking care of all my expenses and even saving for my tuition next year without help from my parents. I am also a good student at Humber, and I became a person who people come to when they need help or advice. But most importantly, I am now a person my parents can depend on and a son that they are proud of.

Sean with a group of Vietnamese Students
Sean with a group of Vietnamese Students
Studying abroad is not as flashy as everyone thinks, yet it also isn’t something that you should be scared of. Being away from the people you have been with since you were born, plus having to take care of everything on your own may not sound comfortable, but it is eventually going to pay off if you put in enough effort and never stop trying. Good luck to all!

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