Linh Ngan Vu has found that studying foundation studies at Trinity College in Melbourne suits her learning style and lifestyle. Here’s what she says about the experience.
If you want to study abroad at an Australian university, there are a few key skills you need in order to succeed. Conversational English is a plus, along with research skills, the ability to create presentations, and essay writing skills.
But what if you haven’t had the opportunity to learn these things?
That’s where the Foundation Studies program offered by Trinity College comes in, and for Linh Ngan Vu, who grew up in Hanoi, it is helping prepare her for study at the University of Melbourne – Australia’s top-ranked university.
'I think Trinity College has prepared me really well [for university] because, without taking Foundation Studies, I wouldn't have had the chance to work in a group this much,' she says. 'It would be hard for me to [do well at] university without having the skills to research and do presentations … Trinity helps us to build up our confidence so that we can present in front of many people.'
Though Linh Ngan says the exam period can be exhausting, when lots of assignments are often due too, she says she finds the assignments interesting, and that they help her build her research skills. 'And after that period, we have a period to relax, so I feel like the course is really balanced,' she says.
'At school in Vietnam, every day was really repetitive because we had class from 7am to 4pm every day … Our schedules were tight every day and we didn't have a period to relax like this. I think moving to Australia and experiencing this education system is more suitable for me.'
Linh Ngan has chosen mathematics, economics, and media and communications as her elective subjects, and says economics in particular is helping to develop her critical thinking skills.
At Trinity, she has noted a big difference between Australia and Vietnam when it comes to the interaction with teaching staff. 'The teachers and tutors are really open and they're really willing to help us. They also act like actual friends to us – we have a chance to talk to them about not only school stuff, but also our lifestyles, so it helps us to enjoy school more.'
Linh Ngan also appreciates how friendly people are and how easy it is to move around Melbourne, whether that’s getting to and from classes or travelling around the city with her friends. 'I think the transportation is really comfortable [in Melbourne]. We can travel by ourselves really easily. I also like the climate and the people – they are all really friendly and have a good manner.'
'I was scared before I arrived because I was moving to a new environment and I didn’t have friends in Melbourne. But, actually, I feel really happy now because I have friends from many countries and because the people and teachers here are really helpful. Whenever I feel like I have a problem or I feel lonely, I can always talk to them.'
To anyone who is thinking about taking Foundation Studies at Trinity, Linh Ngan says: 'I’d say don’t worry too much about the studies or the academic aspects, because the teachers and the program is really well organised. I think all of us will cope well with it if we put enough effort in. However, I think students will have to improve their soft skills and also their ability to live on their own, like, cooking or doing stuff independently, because we have to do everything on ourselves here. I learnt to cook by watching YouTube!'
In terms of developing her soft skills, including improving her English through everyday conversations, Linh Ngan likes going out with her friends to experience the cuisines of different countries, and enjoys visiting Melbourne’s many exhibitions and art galleries, which she says also helps build her understanding and appreciation of the arts. 'It’s also a nice way to relax after studying,' she says.