"One love, different countries, one heart"

Living abroad is one of the most amazing ways to broaden my mind and experience the wider world. I love the fact that by living in different places, every day is an adventure, and every day I learn something new. Living abroad is not something I decided to do at a very young age. It is something that crept up on me. By my mid twenties, I had developed a strong desire to experience the wider world. That was when I first found out I was accepted into a university in Hanoi, Vietnam, to continue my discovery year as a part of my Degree Program.At first, I was resistant to the idea. For several reasons, it was unfamiliar territory, I was going to be away for home for an extended time and I knew no one there. But eventually, I had a great experience during my stay for almost a year doing the community outreach program and internship program, and I do not regret a thing. Yes, it may sound scary being away from familiar surroundings, but I believe Universiti Brunei Darussalam is doing the right thing where it is something I feel Bruneian students should try, at least once.My programs at FPT University have been remarkable in every respect. Coming from a Vietnam 'mass university', I am not used to such a caring spirit and the friendliness here. The environment of the city, Hanoi and FPT University makes it much more fun to stay. It is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I knew it from the start that I would be able to take all of the trainings and courses I needed for my Business degree back home. What's pulling me back every time I felt like going back home was the wide variety of things to do in such a short distance - biking, swimming, skiing, and talk about the landscape - mountains, plains, resorts. What more could I want? It is all happening here in Hanoi - the nature is so alive. Another highlight for me was the lecturers and staff at the university were friendly and welcoming. Even if you are a student, they treat you with respect. I got the impression that students come first. I was lucky enough to live with great roommates during my first semester, who took care of my meals, but I was alone during the second semester, after the rest went back to Brunei. It was then that I learnt how to cook proper meals, buy my own groceries and so on.congtruongThe most compelling one was when I missed home and my loved ones, I became a better person for trying to survive, at the end of the day. I took better care of myself, learnt the ways of the world, managed my university work and finances better, because no one was there to nag at me, or to pick up the slack for me when I made mistakes. When I am finally ready to go home, this is when I realize that I will appreciate my parents better, for what they have done for me.I have had so many fond memories in Hanoi, that I cannot think of any other places to settle down in after I graduate - it is one of my backup plans. Besides, since I have already called Hanoi "the city home", it is definitely easier and cheaper when I come back in the future - I might score a free accommodation with my Vietnamese friends, and I will not have to suffer through touristy gimmicks. Plus, if I am thinking of going back to work with FPT University, the door will always be opened for me.I am so grateful for all of the amazing people I have met in Hanoi and the chance to see something so different from Brunei. I already knew that I loved travel, but now I have an even greater desire to live away from home and see more of the world. I have met people that I never would have had the opportunity to meet otherwise, also just having the chance to see how Hanoi works in terms of university work, the social understandings I have to come to with other cultures. I know that any time I am taken out of my home environment, I have to expect myself to change, but I never knew that I would learn this much. I feel that I came here as an eager student, but I am living as a global citizen.People come and people go. The 'home is where the heart is' gives cause for reflection when one's heart is in more than one place. As much as I love Vietnam, Brunei will always be the place I am from, and a country I have enormous respect and affection for. Before my trip back to Brunei, I will look forward to spending time in the place that was home to me - "Dom A, FPT University, Hoa Lac". Assimilating into a new community and creating a new life take times as well as effort. However, the people I met and the relationships I developed along the way are sure to enhance my student experience and my life.I do not feel that the physical distance creates any real feelings of separation between my international friends and I. I believe we will be in a constant contact, and when we see each other in the future, it feels like we were never apart. I love Brunei, but I also love my adopted homeland of Vietnam, the challenge and the adventure of life abroad. My expectation is to try and make my first home (Brunei) and my second home (Hanoi) in a place where most of the parts of my heart can be brought together physically. At the end of the day, I can say that my two homes are where the heart is both in soul and in body.

(Theo Cóc Đọc số 68)