Interview with Lam Nguyen, student of Restaurant Entrepreneurship.
For Lam Nguyen from Vietnam, pursuing higher education studies abroad was always the number one dream. Nguyen selected Finland over the USA and Singapore as her place of study, and she is now a first-year student in the Restaurant Entrepreneurship degree programme taught through English at Laurea University of Applied Sciences in Leppävaara.
- Now that I have finished my first semester, I know that my choice was good - Finland has exceeded my expectations, Lam says happily.
Lam Nguyen was always interested in the hotel and restaurant sector, and choosing the field of study was thus easy. In this wide and versatile field, Nguyen wishes to focus especially on restaurant business.
- I see a lot of potential for growth in the restaurant sector. As the standard of living improves, people like to invest more in their every-day life and are prepared to spend money on eating out, she justifies her choice.
- After finishing my studies, I aim to continue my career in Finland. One of my dreams is setting up a restaurant especially for older people, in which particular attention would be paid to their nutrition.
“Focus on authentic experiences”
Lam Nguyen finds studying in Finland very different from Vietnam. There is more focus on theory in Vietnam, whereas Laurea’s approach is more practical, and learning takes place through authentic experiences in working life.
A particularly memorable part of Nguyen's studies during the first semester was a project in which each student set up his or her own pop-up restaurant. In the course of this project, the students themselves had to find out what it takes to establish a restaurant from a scratch: licences, finances, menus and ingredients.
- At the beginning of the project, I asked my teachers several times if they really expected us, first-year students, to cope with these tasks, Lam recalls.
- But the teachers assured me that they would help and guide us.
This was when it dawned on Nguyen that the teacher's role in Finland is very different. Rather than an instructor, a teacher in Finland is more like a coach who guides and advises the students.
- However, the teacher does not do things for me. Here it is part of the studies to discover things and find out about the topics we study, Lam Nguyen describes.
- I have indeed learned enormously during my first semester, and I strongly believe that studying at Laurea will help me find success in the future.
Practicing Finnish with flatmates
Settling in Finland and Espoo was not difficult for Lam Nguyen, even though she says it takes some time to adjust to the cold climate. She finds Finnish people friendly and the public transport great, and she got a HOAS Foundation student flat only one kilometre away from Leppävaara campus.
Lam is also busy learning Finnish. She is supported in her efforts by two Finnish flatmates, with whom she can try out her language skills in practice.
- Speaking Finnish is easier, as the pronunciations of many words are similar to Vietnamese, Lam Nguyen says.
- Writing is more challenging, though, as Finnish grammar is so different from both English and Vietnamese. But most importantly, I’m not afraid to learn and use Finnish.
When 19-year-old Lam moved to Finland, it was her first time living alone without her family. This naturally made her nervous before arrival.
- I have got on fine, however, and my parents were surprised to hear that I can cope with cooking, doing the laundry and managing my finances on my own, Lam smiles.
- I have not felt homesick yet. Studying and living here keep me so busy that I’ve had no time to think about Vietnam. The only thing I sometimes miss is Vietnamese food.
Read more student stories from Laurea.