After spending three years in Ireland, Vietnamese Student Ambassador Ha Lan (Summer) Ngo reminisces on her time here so far. In her latest blog, she looks back on her experience with rose-tinted glasses and thanks he past self for choosing to study in Ireland…

It all began in 2017…

Nearly two years ago when I just found out about Shannon College, I was so passionate about it. I watched all the videos about this college and emailed some of my Vietnamese seniors to ask questions about their lives there. Studying at Shannon College became my biggest dream at that time when I was 17. I studied hard back then to get all of my requirements done, and even now when I am in my 3rd year, I am sure about my decision to be here and to study here in Ireland was one of the best decisions I have ever made.   

Since I have not been in Ireland for that long, there are not so many stories that I can tell but, all the things that I have been through are precious experiences to me. 

2018: A new bird was exploring 

My first year was not so tough but some of my first days were quite hard, everything was new; a different culture and I learning to be on my own, to be independent. It was exciting since it was a great opportunity to meet new friends from all over the world that I would have never had the chance to meet before; to enjoy new things that I never did before and to live together in a house with people I never knew before.


My very first day in House 20! (photo: Ha Lan)

My two housemates are very kind girls, one from Ireland and one from England. They helped me a lot with my English and helped me know more about their cultures which are completely different from Vietnamese culture – I was so appreciative of that. I also met some “lads” who were just so funny and energetic, always made jokes and ran around yelling (in a funny way), all of them helped me have the best time. 

Getting accustomed to the Irish culture (photo: Ha Lan)

The first year mostly focused on practical skills which were so helpful for my 2nd year placement. To be honest, the practical classes were challenging for me since I did not work in any hotels before when I was in high school, and especially kitchen classes because it was so out of my comfort zone. Being a chef, you can cook whatever and however you want to, but thank you chef Sarah (my culinary lecturer)! She was so patient to help me improve gradually. Our lecturers are just so great with all their knowledge to help us gain more experience and skills.  

My Alsace group in 1st year (photo: Ha Lan)

2019: New life stage

My second placement was in Galway and I would say it was so emotional for me; it was the first time I worked as a full-time staff member and the first time I knew more about the realistic hotel industry – it definitely helped me understand the challenges of my chosen career. A tough timetable when I was working in the Food and Beverage department and a hard physical job when I was in the Accommodation department. All of these were precious because they gave me a “real world” experience.  

During placement, I met some of the best people in my life; my supervisors who always encouraged me and showed me good techniques, the barmen who always made me laugh, my colleagues who walked me home after night late shifts and the chefs who gave me nice meals when I was starving. And there are definitely more memorable stories that I’ll always keep in my heart. My placement was expected to be complete in June of 2020, however, due to Covid-19, it suddenly ended in March. Certainly, I did not want to say goodbye to my besties at all!

My colleagues! (photo: Ha Lan)

All of these memories made my 1st and 2nd year are of the most beautiful times in my life. I loved the peace of Clare and the antiquity of Galway. I love my lecturers and my friends from around the world who help me in my study and in my life. I am appreciative of all these precious relationships, and for my decision to come to Ireland to become a member of the Shannon family.

Shannon Lip Sync event for charity in 2019 (photo: Ha Lan)

Ha Lan is doing a BComm in International Hotel Management at Shannon College of Hotel Management, NUI Galway.