By Cindy Nguyen
Ian Hoang, a UPEI student from Vietnam, Facetimes with his sister in Hanoi, showing her movie posters at Charlottetown Cineplex theatres (photo credits: Cindy Nguyen)
Ian Hoang looked out the window at 2 a.m. and couldn’t believe what he saw.
“I got my roommate to go out and take pictures of me, catching snowflakes. The cold didn’t bother me much, but it wasn’t the same case to my roommate.”
Hoang is from Hanoi and he doesn’t get to see snow there.
A huge fan of Steve Jobs, Hoang said working in the marketing industry has been his dream since he was a child. But Hoang’s parents wanted him to take finance, which he did for three years.
He didn’t like it. So, Hoang decided to give up and begin his education journey again, in PEI.
“Well, this place seems small,” he thought after landing.
Coming from Hanoi, a city of 7.7 million, Charlottetown seemed quiet and uncrowded to Hoang.
“But later on, I find living in PEI is an interesting experience in a very different way. It is so peaceful and beautiful here.”
Buying groceries was a new experience too. He didn’t know people were supposed to bring their own shopping bags, Hoang said.
“You bring your own or you pay. I was impressed because it is a good way to enhance public’s awareness of protecting the environment.”
UPEI offers affordable tuition and generous benefits for students, Hoang said. The campus environment is friendly and welcoming for all students, especially international students like him.
“I know I’m not the only one, and I’m not alone here.”
Although Hoang is studying his favourite major here, on a peaceful and beautiful island, dealing with homesickness isn’t easy, especially during Tet, the Vietnamese traditional new year celebration.
“I thought I would be doing fine. Then my family and friends sent me a lot of great pictures from home. But I’m here, all by myself and that was the moment I couldn’t hold my tears anymore.”
“I’m living a life I’ve never lived before,” Hoang said.
Annabelle Charron, a UPEI student from Quebec, says there’s lots of ways to make friends while studying on PEI She plays for the UPEI Panthers women’s basketball team and meets up with friends for lunch every day at the campus dining hall (photo credits: Cindy Nguyen)
Annabelle Charron is a UPEI fourth-year nutrition student from Quebec.
UPEI gives her the opportunity to strengthen her English skills, play basketball and attend the nutrition program at the same time, Charron said.
“Being here is a great fit for me.”
The sport helps her adapt to the new environment, she said.
“With basketball, you have the team so you meet new people right away. You get a chance to make new friends and experience good things without feeling left out, so homesickness wasn’t a big deal for me.”
She suggests incoming students experience campus life.
“I was living on campus during my first year here, so that’s another way to make friends. I have my roommate in Andrew Hall, meet new people at the dining hall and have lunch together every day. You make friends, have fun and everything is fine.”