Student Spotlight: Tram Nguyen

What does a day in the life of a Touro Graduate School of Business (GSB) student studying abroad look like?

November 29, 2018
Graduate School of Business student Nguyen Tram in front of Germany\'s Brandenburg Gate

1. What program are you pursuing at GSB and what are your career goals?  

I am pursuing a M.S. degree in human resource management. In the next five years, I hope to become a human resource specialist at a major technology company where I would be responsible for filling roles in artificial intelligence (A.I.) talent management.  

2. Tell us about the scholarship you received from GSB to study at Touro College Berlin for a semester.

I was fortunate to receive the International Student Award, a one-semester scholarship awarded to an international student of outstanding ability, who is expected to play a leadership role after returning to his or her home country.  
3. Can you describe a day in your life as a student in Berlin?  
My day in Berlin always starts with bright sunshine since the weather in Berlin is much better than in New York. Twice a week, I attend classes on topics such as conflict and negotiation, finance and capital management. No matter the subject, each class starts with professors asking what we did the previous weekend. Based on our answers, the professor will try to find a way to correlate our responses to working in Germany and its culture; the professor will then compare our answers to challenges with job hunting abroad; and the professor will discuss ways to overcome these issues. Since most of the students in my class are international students, we all bring different perspectives on working and living abroad.  
Besides attending class, I spend most of the time studying in libraries across Berlin and exploring the city and other local attractions. Berlin has a large number of museums, so sightseeing is an important part of living here, as it allows you to fully experience the city’s history and culture. I spend my nights either swimming, running, or hanging out with friends. Berlin is a very friendly city and I have made new friends here who always make me feel at home.  
4. What are you hoping to gain from this experience?  
Studying abroad is helping me grow as a person in terms of developing independence and expanding my skill set.
The Berlin campus is an open environment where students are constantly brainstorming ideas and expressing their opinions on a myriad of topics. In my experience so far, Germans are respectful, but very straightforward and tell you the truth about everything without "sugar-coating it". I have learned from them the value of being direct in a business setting. This way people understand expectations and teams can maximize efficiency and address issues before they become a problem.  
I also think that studying in an international academic environment is helping me realize just how many people work remotely from different countries and yet, collaborate with colleagues everywhere. The world today is so interconnected. For someone like me, who is looking to enter a business world without borders, this experience is an excellent training ground.    
5. What advice would you give to fellow students thinking about studying abroad?  
I think students should prepare for the culture shock that comes with moving to a different country. My first time experiencing culture shock was the realization that people here operate much slower than most Americans and focus more on activities that will enable them to enjoy their lives. Sunday is the most relaxing day of all, as many stores are closed and people often take naps or hang out in the park. The first couple of weeks were confusing to me because back in New York, I’d often run around shopping, visiting the library and joining volunteer activities. I noticed that I didn't know how to simply relax for a long period of time. Additionally, it was an interesting realization that it is not common to use credit cards here. Even though Germany is a developed country, most people prefer to buy things with cash. At first, it was confusing for me to keep track of how much money I was spending. It has also been challenging for me to find stores or malls which accept Apple Pay, which I use daily in the U.S.  
My advice to students looking to study abroad is to embrace the differences between the two countries and to get out and explore and learn their new surroundings as much as possible. Keep your mind and heart open at all times and engage in dialogue with locals to learn from and about them. Every challenge teaches you a lesson and it’s okay to step outside of your comfort zone.