A Journey of a Thousand Miles with Passion


More than 10,000 km of the journey couldn't stop the passion for exploring science and technology of Oketola Praise Oluwabamise, a third-year student in the Bachelor's degree in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) from Ibadan, Nigeria. The choice of USTH and Vietnam as the destination for his intellectual journey was an extraordinary decision but probably had been planned for a guy who was passionate about science at an early age.
 
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Oketola Praise decided to pursue his passion for Information and Communication Technology at USTH.

Coming to programming and Vietnam as a predestined opportunity

The love for information technology came to Praise very early. At the age of 14, after listening to his father's advice to take advantage of summer vacation to find out hobbies, Praise enrolled in an IT summer camp. He started learning programming languages such as Java, writing codes, UI, UX. "The more I learn and do everything from the first steps of programming, I feel very excited and wonder what is this?" Praise recalled. These new and exciting "beginner" sessions have instilled in the heart of that junior boy a passion for "mysterious" programming languages.

As time passed by, his passion grew even more. Praise found extra classes and self-study online sessions at home during high school. By the end of his senior year, he went on to another summer camp to develop programming skills and realized it was the field he wants to pursue in the future.
 
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Praise with his classmates in the high-school graduation ceremony.

Going to Vietnam to study for Praise is not a "too difficult" decision because he has known about this distant country through stories from his relatives and friends. Praise shared that he seemed to have a destiny with this S-shaped country when both of his dad and cousin came to study the bachelor and master’s degrees in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Praise knew USTH through the recommendation of a friend who had studied the Master's degree in Information and Communication Technology at USTH, currently teaching at a university in Vietnam. He is fascinated by the curriculums which are quite right with what he wants to pursue; moreover, the language of learning is English will help him integrate and expand knowledge better. Besides, tuition and living expenses are very reasonable. After careful consideration, Praise applied to USTH and was accepted.

"The first surprises..."

Passing the nearly 2-day journey, Praise arrived in Vietnam, officially started the 3-year journey in a country which is 10,000 km away from home. The emotions at that time were very confused, both excited and worried. Praise said that in the past, like many other foreigners, he only knew about the Vietnam War or through the stories of relatives, but didn't have any real experience. "I know there are lots of motorbikes in Hanoi, but I don't think that there are so many motorbikes on the streets." - Praise recalls his first impression upon coming to Hanoi.

At first, the differences in culture also made Praise entirely "confused." Praise shared a "half crying, half laughing" memory when the crowded street suddenly empty because the shops closed at Tet. "I thought this is a big holiday, so the roads must be busy and crowded. But I didn't expect every store closed as "a dead town" on the first days of the year. Therefore, Praise and his friends' plan to eat out in the restaurants and enjoy Hanoi cuisine were "bankrupt."

Like many other international students, Praise sometimes can't help but feel lonely, homesick and miss his family and close friends in the homeland. He said: "I want to meet and talk in my native language with my relatives and friends, who understand me because there is no place better than home." Even so, the busy student life also helps him reduce homesickness partly.
 
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Like other international students, Praise also misses his family and friends back home.

"Step by step to adapt to the new life..."

When talking about the experience of studying at USTH, Praise was more excited. Praise shared that despite facing many challenges, he felt very fortunate to receive a lot of support and attention from teachers: "I see teachers deeply care for students. In particular, I like Mr. Son because he is hilarious and often asks students at the end of the class to make sure that everyone understands the lesson."

Not only that, but the instructors also asked students how much they are doing the exercises so they can guide and solve the problems that they are facing during the test. "I think this is a rare thing for university lecturers."

Praise excitedly told about friendly and lovely classmates. Being a quiet person before coming to Vietnam, he was worried that he would be more introverted when he came to study in a foreign country. However, after a short time, this worry completely disappeared because "My classmates often talk to me first, talk to each other at the end of class or invite me to eat after the group work sessions."

Not only that, but Praise's classmates also play the role of "translator" reluctantly to help him quickly adapt to the new environment. "Sometimes during recess, to make the atmosphere less tired, lecturers joke with students in Vietnamese. To help me avoid feeling out of place, they often explain it to me in English." Because of that, whenever Praise doesn't understand something, he always proactively asks his classmates without hesitation.
 
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The friendly classmates help Praise a lot to adapt to the new studying environment.

Praise also hoped classmates would help him learn Vietnamese, but "All of them like to speak English to me, so I thought ok, I would speak English, too." Praise humorously replied.

Praise's student journey at USTH is gradually approaching the finish line, and a new door is about to open for this 3rd-year student. Choosing an internship in Vietnam or abroad after graduating, continue to pursue a degree at graduate school, or go to work first? "I'm still waiting for a suitable opportunity." Who knows, maybe Praise would be destined with Vietnam again in the future?