Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Computer Science


Soccer, Painting, Muay Thai, The Big Bang Theory show, Gym, Volunteering, Tutoring

About Me

Ohana means family

December 9, 2016

One of the forms I filled out at the beginning of the year asked me if I was interested in the host family program for international students. I ticked yes without hesitation. It was not just because I was an excited soon-to-be freshman that wanted to participate in every opportunity. My wish to have a host family could be traced back to earlier than that.

Sophomore year, when I traveled from Vietnam to a high school program in Nebraska, I was assigned to live in a dorm with other Vietnamese students. Although that means wifi cutoff at 10:30pm and Facebook ban at 7pm *for academic purposes*, dorm life also has its perks: technically slumber party every night, really close friendships with dormmates, and a chance to grow more mature and responsible (without burning the kitchen down while making instant noodle). 

Yet, I could not help wondering what it is like to have a “second family”. One where I could learn more about the U.S cultures and traditions through experiencing them myself, where I would have a stronger system of emotional support on rough days, where I could share unique things about Vietnamese cultures and surprise them with traditional dishes (my Vietnamese dormmates are of course unimpressed by home-cooked bún bò). 

And so, I was really looking forward to having a host family. Of course, at Richmond freshman live in dorms, this host family program does not mean I would stay at my host family’s place. It just matched international students to a local family, so that together we could explore the city with its historic/ cultural sites, and learn more about traditions like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Richmond has always prided itself on diversity of cultures, of backgrounds, of thoughts. This program was organized by the Internation Education Program with that purpose in mind: it faciliates such interactions between international students and local families, so that both can exchange cultural perspectives and learn from each other’s experiences.

Around the end of September, I was contacted by my Richmond host parents. They were as warm, welcoming and lovely as I imagined. One funny coincidence — turned out my host parents and I had been in the same Monday gym class, without knowing that until after we met! We met several times to go out and explore Richmond. My host parents took me on a walk around Carytown, drove me around to view the statues, monuments and the James River while discussing with me about Richmond’s history, and heritages. They even took me out for dinner at Mekong Restaurant — the first Vietnamese restaurant in Richmond I have ever visited. The food was definitely delicious, but what I enjoyed more was the conversation we had. It was also fun to share with them about Vietnam, about my cultural background and how had the journey to U.S. influenced me. I was glad I signed up for this program! 

Having a host family did expand my experience of America’s social and cultural life, and was a great opportunity for me to immerse myself further in the local life. Most importantly, I got to have such loving, open-minded and nice people as my host parents. Signing up for this program just took a click, but the meaningful bonds built last much longer.

About me

Hi guys, I'm Tracy, a newbie Spider at Richmond! My majors are probably Computer Science and Math, and I'm so in love with my current Math/CS classes. They're all amazing! A little more about my background: I'm from Vietnam, but I went to high school in Nebraska. It feels so weird to be a freshman again, when you practically know nobody at school, keep getting lost while finding your classes, always look up to your upperclassmen (no actually, with my height of 5ft2'',  I technically look up to everyone); and struggle with all the new changes.

Yet, it's also exciting! If you haven't already known, University of Richmond offers a wealth of choices in academics, research opportunities, extracurricular activites and - most importantly - desserts. So my goal is to get out of my comfort zone, jump at different opportunities (or desserts) that intrigue me, and make the most out of my college experience. I love soccer, so my friends and I just formed an intramural team named Kiss My Pass. I'm also interested in martial arts, learning ballroom dancing, painting, learning guitar, baking, making new friends,  tutoring and volunteering. Yup, that's quite a lot! But I have 4 years here to follow my passions and become who I aspire to be. As a Spider Diarist, I will also make sure to keep you updated on my journey at Richmond!

Why UR?

I actually applied to UR on a whim without researching carefully about it. At that time, all those tedious Why X and "What's your plans bla bla bla" prompts have exhausted my meager creative juices, and writing college essays quickly rose to the top of my most dreaded chores. "Tell us about Spiders" was a fresh air. It revived the truly poetic, hopelessly romantic, exasperatingly dramatic and possibly neurotic side of me. In short, I loved the prompt; and with the waived application fee as a plus, I decided to apply to UR. It was not until I got accepted that I started visiting the school and seriously considering what it has to offer. During my first visit, as cliched as that might sound, I fell in love with Richmond. What's not to love about such helpful and outstanding professors, the wonderful opportunities to engage in research or study abroad, the vibrant, inclusive and diverse community, and again - most importantly - the irresistable desserts? I went to the admission office to pay my deposit right during that visit. And voilà, here I am as an excited baby Spider!