My Dreamy Journey to GSIS, Chung-Ang University

Dr. Nguyen Phuong Mai
The famous Apple founder, Steve Jobs once said "Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish" which means that we should always pursue our dreams with passion. When we do what we are interested in, we find ourselves hungry to do it with more dedication and perfection, that is what makes our work stand out. This saying inspires me a lot in my career and my journey in the world.

Growing up in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, I often reminded myself that I would have to "stay foolish" to go overseas and widen my knowledge. The world is flat, and we need to know what is happening out there beyond our small nation, and what we can learn from the more developed countries. Thus, I chose to start my career as a lecturer at University of Economics and Business, Vietnam National University Hanoi (VNU) to turn my curiosity about the world into real activities of teaching and doing research while seizing the opportunities to be engaged in the international academic network. Vietnam National University Hanoi developed from the Indochina University, which was established in 1906 by the French colonial government as a multi-discipline academic institution. Currently, VNU ranks No. 1 in Vietnam and No. 124 in the list of Asian universities. As a leading research university in Vietnam, VNU encourages its faculty members to participate in international research projects. I am particularly interested in research topics such as corporate social responsibility (CSR), corporate governance and entrepreneurship. Thus, I have been searching for opportunities to get the scholar exchange fellowship in foreign countries including South Korea. 
That chance came in late 2017 when I was awarded the International Scholar Exchange Fellowship (ISEF) program run by the Korean Foundation for Advanced Studies (KFAS). I was even luckier to meet Professor Yongshik Choo from the Graduate School of International Studies – Chung-Ang University (GSIS – CAU) in a workshop in Cambodia. He then became my host scholar in South Korea and my journey to GSIS – CAU started from August 2018. 
After eight months at GSIS as a visiting researcher, I experienced many interesting things. At the beginning of my stay, there were some challenges for me to adapt to the new environment such as Korean language, working style, and culture. However, what remains in my mind is the good memories with GSIS faculty and students. The most memorable thing for me is the professional working environment at GSIS with warm-hearted faculty members and students. I was invited to several events at the GSIS where I found very few barriers among professors and students. GSIS faculty members are so friendly and close to students, that they help create an engaging learning environment. The GSIS professors gave us an enthusiastic welcome at all of the orientation events. I believe that this kind of activity is effective to nurture an enduring relationship among GSIS faculties and students. The way that GSIS professors take care of their students really amazed me. At GSIS, students can dive into an active learning environment. The school provides them with modern and well-equipped classrooms, access to a huge library and a variety of activities to improve their knowledge and skills. 
I also found that the master programs at GSIS – CAU share some common things with my hometown institution namely VNU University of Economics and Business. At GSIS, the MA program is composed of two general programs, International Studies Program (ISP), and Advanced Interpretation & Translation Program (AITP). The ISP consists of two concentrations of Global Affairs and Business (GA&B) and Global Affairs and Trade (GA&T). All programs have a common educational focus - substantive knowledge in global affairs and proficiency in foreign language communications. While at VNU - UEB, we have master programs in majors of Business Administration, International Economics and Business, Finance. We have a similar curriculum with ISP including courses in global business management, finance and trade. 
My stay at GSIS is also filled with interesting discussions on relevant research topics. I am currently conducting a comparative study on entrepreneurialism among young people in South Korea and Vietnam. I have had several discussions with GSIS professors whose professionalism and suggestions are essential for me to complete my research. GSIS students also helped me a lot by participating in my survey on entrepreneurialism. It is fair to say that GSIS is a professional school bringing not only a uniquely designed learning environment for students but also a pleasant and effective working environment for researchers like me. 
Unfortunately, even the most joyful journey has to come to an end. My exchange fellowship period at GSIS will end in this August. However, I do hope that there will be more opportunities for GSIS – CAU and VNU - UEB to promote faculty and student exchange programs in the near future. These programs will be essential to create a wider network of studying and researching. Teamwork and collaboration are very important to promote more outstanding research results of mutual interests for both South Korea and Vietnam scholars. Sincerely, I will miss the wonderful time at GSIS in particular and South Korea in general. If I have a chance, I will definitely come back to South Korea one day because I still want to "Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish" in my career.
The essay was posted in GSIS Newsletter Vol1. 2019

Phuong Mai

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