From Vietnam to GCSEs and now A-levels in the UK
1 April, 2019
Kings Oxford A-level student Nguyen Thuy Lien (Natalie), from Vietnam, tells us about her academic success so far on the path to UK university, and some of the best aspects of her life at Kings.
Hi Natalie. Are you enjoying it here at Kings? What are the best things about it so far?
I think the first thing I noticed is that the teachers are very, very supportive, and friendly as well. I called my Chemistry teacher with his last name and 'Mr' and he said 'No, just call me Matt!'. They are quite casual.
Also, you meet lots of people from around the world, so it's a really diverse community. I am interested in finding out about other countries and it's fun picking up foreign phrases!
What made you choose Kings as the place to prepare for university?
I would say I was impressed by the size of the classes — in my previous school there would be 20–30 students per class, but here some only have 8, or less. Students get a lot of attention from the teachers.
We have frequent meet ups with our teachers to discuss our targets for the rest of the course, so the students do get a lot of support and attention.
What A-level subjects are you doing here?
I'm taking Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths. In the future I would like to do Environmental Studies, be an environmental scientist I guess.
I did GCSE at Kings Oxford last year too — the accelerated (one year) course. I took English, Maths, Geography and the three sciences.
How did you get on with your GCSEs?
At first my class had 4 guys and just me, and I tried to talk to them but they didn't talk that much! We did grow closer though, and then from January we had two exchange students, one boy and one girl, and that made the class really fun.
The teachers were really attentive, they did teach very detailed lectures so we understood what everything means. They had feedback forms for us to write down our opinions, which I think was quite nice.
Were you pleased with your results at the end?
I think I could have done better with English, Geography was as expected, but I would say I was pleased with my Science results. They were still As, so it was fine!
Was it always the plan for you to come here and do A-levels and then university?
In third grade I went with my school in Vietnam on an exchange trip to the UK and ever since then I wanted to come to the UK to study! We went somewhere near London, but we also visited Oxford and Cambridge University.
So far has life in the UK lived up to your expectations?
I would say I enjoy life in the UK. I like Oxford because it's not too busy, it's not too fast moving. It's a steady city so it’s a good place, and the facilities around the city are good too. Everything is accessible.
Are you doing any activities, or clubs and societies as enrichment?
I have signed up for the Duke of Edinburgh, I have submitted my form. I have also joined Maths Club — it's actually quite fun! It's like fun maths, we do logic games.
Are you staying with a host family?
Yes, I am. I think the good thing about staying in a host family is that you have the feeling of having a family. In a residence you have a single room and even if you meet up with your friends it's still not that frequent — sometimes you might be on your own.
It's also a good way to get an insight into the British, and you get to know people other than just those in your school.
If you like children, it's a good idea to stay with a family with children! Mine have three — they are cute and by and large they are good! It’s just 10 minutes' walk away from school.