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  • Rei Pham

College: The Best Four Years of Your Life

When I was in high school, I dreamt of the day I move off to college. And why not? They always say it’s the best 4 years of your life! Now that I’m more than halfway done with my college experience, I can finally tell you that that is absolutely true BUT only when you are committed to making that dream a reality. Here’s a couple of ways to make college an experience you’ll never forget:

1. Celebrate failures

Affected by my Vietnamese heritage, I find I get nervous about trying new things because I am afraid of failing (insert failing article here). But college is more than just getting a piece of paper to ensure your success--it’s about growth. In my time in college, I learned that the worst thing that could happen is failure/rejection. But, even then, so what? It is not the end of the world because just like learning to ride a bicycle, you get back up after a fall and you try again. With every failure comes a lesson, and you can only improve each time. You have nothing to lose.

2. Throw yourself at every single opportunity available

Like I mentioned before, I don’t like to try new things because my Vietnamese background tells me failing is unacceptable. But one of the most valuable lessons I learned came from the Nike motto, “Just do it.” That’s right, that’s all you have to do! Because even if you are not sure if something is for you, you never know what you may get out of it. I randomly joined a pageant, met the MC of the show, and now I’m writing this article for this multimedia publication lead by that very MC (thank you, Trami!) You see, because college years only last for so long, you don’t have to worry about having to stick with something for the rest of your life. Just try it out, you never know where it will take you!

3. Be nice to EVERYONE

Yes, EVERYONE. It’s difficult, I know. But, this is the one lesson I wished someone would have told me before I started college. We were told that college do not come with the dramas like high school does. This is only true if you yourself do not invite drama into your life. And why do that? You’re too busy making new friends and exploring the “real” world anyways. Plus, you never know what each person you meet can offer. Either a job, or help in a class, you really need all the support you can get (:

4. Study Abroad

This one is so important to me as I prep for my study abroad trip to London in T-minus 8 months. It was scary opening up to my mother about the idea of traveling abroad alone for 4 months because Vietnamese parents can close themselves off on the idea of letting their child free. However, linking back to lesson number 2, if the opportunity presents itself and you are able to afford it, please take the chance and go abroad. So many of my friends who have went abroad have shared that their decision to leave changed their perspective and college experience. On the opposite spectrum, so many of my friends who did not study abroad regretted not taking the chance. It’s hard to convince your parents, but try your best. You won’t regret it. And you got it, I’ll be bombarding you with study abroad related articles in 2017.

5. It’s your future, do it for yourself

It’s difficult, especially as a Vietnamese American to only think of ourselves when it comes to our future because we do face quite a bit of pressure trying to satisfy our parents in addition to making ourselves happy. However, if you’re going to take anything out of this article, this is the most valuable lesson I can give you. It’s true, your parents have done so much for you and you want to give back to them. But, you are also your own person and you yourself know what’s best for you and your interests. Choose a major and join extracurricular activities that make you happy and don’t force yourself into something you are not going to enjoy. After all, why choose a profession to follow for the rest of your life when you’re not going to wake up excited to go to work, right?

College is absolutely what you make of it. Whether it be a great experience or a poor one, it’s all up to you. These are just some of the lessons I learned in my past few years of college.

If you have more questions about college, I filmed a video answering some frequently asked questions!

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Rei Pham


Rei is a Psychology student at the University of California, Merced. As a Vietnamese immigrant, she understands the challenge of balancing both Vietnamese and American cultures. She is passionate about equality for minorities and wants to introduce the world of possibilities for first generation Vietnamese-Americans. Rei hopes to inspire the youth by sharing her stories in obtaining higher education and the resources available for them to achieve their own success.

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