Since graduating from EIS in 2019, Nguyet Ngo’s horizons have expanded exponentially. She has settled in a new country, gained a bachelor’s degree, and launched a career that will quite literally change lives.
A degree with reach
Not only is Nguyet working on an app to help elderly people live more independently, but she is also exploring the junction between psychology and business in the rapidly evolving world of user experience (UX).
“My diverse experiences at McGill University have helped me realise that I love learning about different topics in psychology and using data to deepen academic understanding and inform practical business strategies,” she explains. “It’s important to explore different areas to understand what clicks with you, and for me personally I’ve become passionate about human memory, community wellbeing and the intersection of psychology and technology.”
During her degree studies, Nguyet joined a memory research lab to understand how people remember and make sense of their past. This led her to another lab where she researched family relationships and worked with national and regional stakeholders to improve healthcare accessibility.
“Now I’m pivoting into user experience research, applying psychological concepts about human behaviours and motivations to make interactions with digital products more enjoyable. I’m fascinated by this area.”
And thanks to a collaboration between the memory research lab she works at and a Canadian technology studio, Nguyet has also had the chance to work on an app that uses memory research to help elderly who live alone, or those with memory decline, to be more independent.
More than academics
Being exposed to opportunities like these are among the many benefits of studying abroad, but as Nguyet points out, the upsides don’t stop at academia. The life skills, resilience and independence she has developed are worth their weight in gold.
“Adapting to a new city and culture were overwhelming in the first few years – learning the subway system, grocery shopping for one person and navigating new friendships were all very new to me. Thankfully now I can confidently show new students around McGill and Montreal, I’ve found a group of friends that genuinely have my back, and I’ve gained the courage to figure out my own path and view uncertainties as opportunities to grow.”
What else does she love about life in Canada? A great deal as it so happens.
“I love seeing four clear seasons, especially Fall when all the leaves turn red. The music scene is also huge here – it’s such a surreal experience when artists I listen to are touring in the city!”
Laying the foundations at EIS
Moving halfway across the world for tertiary study is no small undertaking, but Nguyet says studying at EIS and navigating the IBDP programme prepared her well.
“The strong focus EIS places on extracurricular activities and community involvement prompted me to find clubs and hobbies in university that helped me adapt to life in a new city – from volunteering as a buddy mentor to new students, to learning the subway system when attending off campus events.
“Meanwhile the work ethic and academic foundation I gained from the IBDP programme prepared me for the academic rigor of university. I was surprised that some of the psychology concepts I learned during IB were sprinkled throughout my first-year syllabus, which provided context and helped me grasp the information better. The IB programme also taught me to confidently talk about my experiences while staying curious about the unknown. This attitude helped me to present myself effectively and learn from my peers and colleagues both in class and at work, which is crucial for great teamwork and appreciating diverse perspectives.”
A treasure trove of memories
The years Nguyet spent at EIS were happy, fruitful and fulfilling – from the Model United Nations trips (“the debate trip to Phnom Penh was a standout”) to the friends and teachers who were always on hand to offer support and encouragement.
“I love that at EIS, staff remember students by name and know which areas each student excels at and needs help with. Meanwhile my friends always made studying for exams, doing past papers, or going on field trips better – they brought their unique humour and we truly bonded through the fun and tough times together.”
Words of wisdom
Studying overseas has been a steep but rewarding learning curve. Nguyet shares her top tips for navigating the challenge:
- Finding good friends takes time. Build connections by sitting at different places in class and the cafeteria and attend lots of events.
- Take time to reflect so you can determine your next steps and achieve results that are meaningful to you. Understanding my must-haves and deal breakers helped me in many aspects, from choosing classes to apartment hunting to making new friends.
- Develop practical skills that help you become more responsible and confident (like budgeting, grocery shopping and taking care of your health).
- Believe in yourself. Yes it will be tough at times, but you will also find joy and comfort in this new phase of life!