Elton Nguyen - Engineering from a Study Abroad Students Perspective!

My name is Elton Nguyen and I am currently a third-year student studying civil engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. I always wanted to do something that would integrate myself into the foundations of building a society and that’s where I found civil engineering, more specifically, structural engineering. Before that, I was uncertain about where I wanted to pursue my life and goals in. I was always interested in STEM subjects, but I could not narrow it down between the engineering, medical, or research field. It wasn’t until I went to a conference that had engineers as invited speakers that I determined what was right for me! Civil engineers deal with infrastructure, so that could be along the lines of transportation, structures, wastewater, utilities, geotechnical issues, and much more!  

Deciding where I wanted to study abroad, my first consideration was the courses offered at different universities. One of the reasons I chose UCD is because they offer some courses that my university either doesn’t have or only offers it for graduate students. Being able to attend UCD, I am able to take courses like Stress+Finite Element Analysis and Bridge Engineering. Another reason why I decided to attend UCD is the environment within the engineering program. When I was searching for where I wanted to study abroad, I met a student from UCD who was studying at my university. He was so friendly and helpful, telling me what Dublin and Ireland were like and how UCD was the perfect place for me. I took it with a grain of salt that everyone in UCD College of Engineering & Architecture would be like him and I’m glad that I did!

Being the first-time I have travelled and live internationally on my own, there are a lot of new and exciting experiences that I could not obtain at home. The culture shock from Dublin (and Europe) compared to Texas are very different. I am not used to people saying cheers or not being required to tip or even paying to use the bathroom in some places! Not only that, I’ve been able to see some of the beauties of Ireland like the Cliffs of Moher, the Giant Causeway, and Glendalough! Aside from Ireland, I have been able to go to Austria, the United Kingdom, and Belgium! I have five lovely roommates whom I all love and am grateful to meet them and have made so many other friends. Including my roommates and friends, UCD has a huge international population where I was able to meet people from all over the world including Ghana, Australia, France, Spain, Germany, China, and much more!

To anyone considering studying abroad, I would 100% recommend it! Although it might be a scary thought to put yourself in an entirely new surrounding where you don’t have much control, the life-changing experience is something that will help you grow physically, mentally, and socially. Being able to go to other countries have helped me develop my sense of independence, as I sometimes were in situations where I could not understand someone due to the language barrier and still found a way to communicate with them. Being “forced” to make friends again reminded me of freshman year in college, but it was much different because we were all excited to make new friends, whether we’d be from the same city or 1000 miles apart. And although studying abroad is very exciting, there are times when I do feel homesick. But then I call my mom and ask her for one of her recipes that I’m craving and try to replicate it myself! I constantly am always doing something which almost makes me forget about missing home. But I try not to let the drawbacks get to me as I want this experience to be one of the best experiences in my life!