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Ngan Nyugen stood besides AUB's brown-themed Yard Party 2023 banner with a framed sun and rainbow illustration.

Ngan Nguyen – “Challenges make me braver on the journey that I have decided for myself”


  • Student Journal
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  • Illustration


I’m studying BA (Hons) Illustration at AUB as a level 5 student. I chose AUB because it's a 100% art-focused environment. I thought to myself, 'This is where I truly want to immerse myself.'

Alongside studying and pursuing within the field of illustration, I observe – and I am also inspired by – students in other artistic disciplines such as fine art, fashion, and acting, through student exhibitions at TheGallery, student performances, classes of language skills and study skills available to all AUB students, and participation in society clubs, extracurricular activities and events offered by the university’s different offices.

AUB is truly an artistic environment. They respect your voice and your uniqueness. I believe art students are encouraged to explore and express themselves in special ways. Ultimately, I decided to apply based on the studying environment, educational values and also considering the tuition fees, which aligned with my family's financial capabilities.

Overall, it has been a valuable and meaningful experience for me. In my first year, I immersed myself in exploring various themes of the course, which truly sparked my curiosity and desire to learn more. In the second year, I focused on becoming more proficient, critical and open-minded in my field.

From the beginning of my studying journey at AUB, I have taken advantage of various educational resources offered by the university to promote my holistic personal development. I usually attend English Academic Sessions (EAP) to enhance my English language skills for various purposes such as making friends, writing essays, emailing professors, presenting, and solving problems.

I also participate in online Study Skills sessions to learn effective time management and planning; this has made me more organised and logical in my thinking. Moreover, I often make bookings to attend lectures organised by AUB Futures – Careers and Enterprise, where experts share insights on making art portfolios stand out and appeal to potential employers. I have gained helpful tips and practical advice for my preparation process before becoming a professional illustrator. In addition, I relied on feedback from my illustration teacher, an AUB MA Illustration alumnus, to gain an overall understanding of the university’s artistic education methods.

An important and interesting aspect of studying abroad are the challenges. As a Vietnamese international student, I have faced difficulties speaking to and understanding native English speakers, especially during my initial period in the UK. At first, during lectures, I often sat in the front rows to hear clearly, trying to concentrate on what the lecturer was saying, and avoiding distractions. Then, importantly, I always revisited the digital lecture slides and online workshop materials posted on the course's learning resources to read and review the knowledge. Tutors, especially, were always ready to listen and understand my ideas, and ready to explain or interpret them in other ways to hope that I could understand their feedback and comments clearly.

These are the methods I used to gain knowledge and skills despite my language limitations. Furthermore, I utilised the online language-learning materials provided by the University to improve my grammar. Gradually, I became more active in expressing myself in English.

I believed it was necessary to listen and communicate more to become familiar with British natives’ intonations and phrases. Therefore, I participated in extracurricular activities and joined clubs within the University. Also, some friends introduced me to volunteer opportunities and part-time work, which helped me interact more with native speakers and learn how they use their mother tongue – I’m also more understanding of British culture in this way.

I love the beach in Bournemouth and also the Christmas market there. The town is not too crowded and suits my personality quite well. During holidays, I often spent my time on outside activities such as hiking or travelling, exploring new destinations.

The challenge is also an interesting part of the ‘study abroad’ journey. Sometimes, I get homesick, and I miss Vietnamese food, and I don't have any relatives in the UK, which can make me feel quite lonely. So, I have reached out to the International office to seek some mental health support – a friendly chat has made me feel much better.

I have wanted to maintain a positive and optimistic mindset because I am very grateful for my study abroad experience, and I truly want to overcome difficulties. Although everything seems new and hard, I can learn a lot and get better step by step. Challenges are really meaningful because they make me braver on the journey that I have decided for myself.

Read more about AUB International and how they can help you adapt to studying abroad.

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