Postcard to home: Tieu To Sa Dang

Published in the February 2017 issue

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For Vietnamese student Tieu To Sa Dang, studying a Bachelor of Business in Hotel Management in Australia will propel her towards an international career.

The 18-year-old from Hanoi started studying in Session 3  last year at The Hotel School Sydney, a partnership between Southern Cross University and Mulpha Australia.

“I chose to study in Australia as I heard this course has a great reputation,” she said.

Tieu To Sa Dang

Tieu To Sa Dang

To Sa studied grade 6 to 12 at Luong The Vinh High School, which was founded by her grandfather, the Vietnamese ‘guru of education’ Professor Van Nhu Cuong, and is now owned by her mother.

“My grandfather started the school in 1989, and it was actually the first private school in Vietnam,” To Sa said.

“He was a clever student in university, then after finishing he was invited to stay to be a teacher at the university and then he planned to start his own school.

“His aim was to be able to teach all people – he wanted to open the school for everybody.”

The school soon became one of the most prestigious in the country, with Professor Van Nhu Cuong writing national school curriculum and mathematics textbooks.

“Now parents really want their children to go to my school because it is a strict school and the aim is to go there and get university entry,” To Sa said.

“The standard is really high and it’s one of the leading private high schools in Hanoi.”

To Sa said she loved going to her family’s school and her favourite subject was always maths, followed closely by learning English, which she speaks fluently.

“My grandparents have taught us maths since we were just little kids,” she said.

She describes Vietnam as a beautiful, friendly place with patriotic people and interesting destinations.

“But the one thing I love about my country most – it’s where my family live.”

To Sa arrived in Australia just days after her final high school exam. She has connected with The Hotel School Sydney community throughout Session 3 and is living with other Vietnamese nationals, who have helped her navigate Australian life.

“My brother studies in America but I felt like that was too far away from my family, and now I’m so glad I chose Sydney,” she said.

“I have found it easy to meet people and make friends, so I’m not homesick anymore. I’ve loved the attractions and the beaches, and I’ve already seen a wallaby and a wombat, and I can’t wait to road trip and see more Australian animals.”

To Sa also enjoys works part-time at a Vietnamese restaurant in Bankstown, gaining even more experience in the Australian hospitality industry.

“I’m planning on staying in Australia here for the three-year Bachelor degree then possibly a Masters degree,” she said.

“When I finish University I’d love to spend more time here getting know the industry even better by working in a big hotel.”

However there is one thing To Sa particularly misses from her home in Vietnam.

“I love my mum’s food, she cooks very well, especially traditional Vietnamese food,” she said. “If you haven’t tried Pho, then you should – it’s the best Vietnamese food there is.”

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