Change of Scenery

Vichika Tran talks about her international experience

Vichika Than, a native of Cambodia, is one of the more than 500 students starting at Lebanon Valley College for Fall 2015. Than is transferring to The Valley after graduating from Harrisburg Area Community College in May with an associate degree in biology.

Than will pursue a bachelor of science degree in biology at LVC and hopes to attend graduate school to become an anesthesiology assistant.

"LVC has a great educational system where students can work closely with the faculty," Than said. "They are known for helping students get great internships and jobs. Moreover, LVC has a good reputation in the news based on my personal research."

Than is living in Hershey, Pa., with her aunt's family who is sponsoring her stay as an international student. She arrived in December 2012 in search of better educational opportunities, and found HACC to be the perfect stepping stone. 

"HACC was a great institution for international students like me, due to it being a community college with lower tuition and a good English as a Second Language (ESL) program," Than said. "When I first came here, my English skills were not that good. I was barely able to understand and communicate with others. However, after my first couple of weeks of attending ESL classes, I constantly started to talk more and more, and stopped worrying if I would be understood or not."

Than cited her interaction with other international students in the ESL courses as just one of the factors that helped her own skills develop. 

"We learned from each other a lot. My other English study tools were interacting with people—international and national—reading books and magazines, having the TV on while I cooked, and singing along with lyrical songs," Than added.

Along with ESL classes, Than truly enjoyed HACC's student life, serving as treasurer of the International Awareness Club (IAC), participating in the HACC Leadership Program, and mentoring for the Global Education Leaders Program.

When it came time to commit to a transfer institution, she made a visit to LVC. "I found LVC so interesting. All of the employees there were friendly and helpful, willing to answer all of my questions. They had a neat landscape. These factors were what attracted me the most to campus," Than said.

In addition, Than received two scholarships, and, as a commuter student, appreciates the College's close proximity to where she's staying in Hershey. She is excited to engage in new activities as a student at The Valley. 

Although she's enjoying her college experience, Than, the oldest of three children, admits she does get homesick since she has not had the chance to return to visit her family. She misses the familiarity of other favorites from home including food, places, holiday celebrations, and friends.

"However, there are also some other things that I appreciate here such as getting to make friends with people from different countries, a better atmosphere, a better government, and better educational systems," Than said.