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Beloit shut down affects international student but doesn’t discourage from future study abroad

Nguyen Huynh’22 is an international student from Vietnam. He is currently studying Environmental Justice and Citizenship and Quantitative Economics at Beloit. Through the retelling of this interview, he explains his move from Beloit back to Vietnam during COVID and his motivation to continue taking advantage of international opportunities.

As an international student, how has the COVID-19 situation affected you?

Nguyen returned to Vietnam rather than staying on campus in Beloit when the stay-at-home order came into affect. He decided to go home since most of his friends would not be campus, and his parents missed and worried about him staying abroad. When he returned, he spent the first 2 weeks quarantined in a hotel outside of Ho Chi Minh City. The living conditions were fine, but it was certainly not the comfort of home. This transition was further complicated as school started partway through his stay. Despite some accommodations from faculty, he was still up late at night (due to the 12 hour time difference) to attend class sessions. Now, he has returned home safely, prioritizing his relationships with family and friends more. To connect with friends from Beloit, he has been keeping up with Snapchat streaks, calling them, and of course sending the best memes. Aren’t we all right now? Even though these circumstances have brought pessimism, fear, and contradictions, Nguyen says that the positive stories of generosity and people helping others have kept him hopeful.

Understandably, study abroad is still up-in-the-air. Are you still planning to attend University of Otago, New Zealand when it is permitted? If so, what are you excited to learn or experience there?

It may be moved to the Spring, but Nguyen is still planning on studying in New Zealand. He is interested in continuing his studies of environmental justice and citizenship in a country the boasts about its eco-friendly culture. Nguyen would like to explore this more, contrasting the eco-friendliness to environmentally harmful industries, like diary, in the area. He also wants to learn more about Maori and European cultures in New Zealand, and how these groups are potentially disproportionately affected by harmful industries.

Beyond academics, Nguyen is hoping to push himself outdoors more, exploring the landscapes previewed in films like Lord of the Rings. Hopefully, he will find a club or make some friends to go hiking with.

What motivates you to continue to study abroad, despite your time at Beloit College also being an abroad experience?

Nguyen has already learned a lot about new cultures in the United States. Beloit has offered a safe space for him to explore and learn during a vulnerable time. He wants to relive these experiences of adaptation and adjustment in new places to see how the circumstances change. Will places and cultures be an even bigger adjustment compared to the US and Vietnam? Exploring new environments helps expand his understanding and perspective of the world.  Overall, even a global pandemic has not fully dissuaded him from continuing to take advantage of international opportunities. 

Hannah Fisher’20
May 05, 2020

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