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October 4, 2022

People of UT: Linh Dam

Editor’s note: This podcast was originally uploaded to Spotify on April 29, 2024. 

In this two-part People of UT series, Audio Producer Emma Ngo talks to two different international students to hear about their experience at UT. In this episode, hear from Linh Dam, an international student from Vietnam.

Reported and produced by Emma Ngo. Cover photo shot by Charlotte Keene and designed by Carla Garcia Leija. Music by Blue Dot Sessions.


*upbeat music*


Emma Ngo: Welcome to People of UT, the show that introduces you to members of the UT community who have made a positive impact, big or small, on other community members. In this mini-series, we’ll be talking to international students from three different continents to hear about their experiences at UT. I’ll be your host for this series, Emma Ngo.


Linh Dam: Hello everyone. My name is Linh Dam, and I’m a second year math major. Xin chào mọi người. Mình tên là Đàm Khánh Linh và hiện tại mình đang là sinh viên năm 2 chuyên ngành toán học. 


Emma: Linh is from Vietnam. She started her education journey here in the U.S. during her sophomore year of high school in Houston, Texas. 


Linh: I went to a very small private high school. It was a religious high school. Everyone was nice. 


Emma: Linh said that everyone around her kept talking about how UT Austin was their dream school, which made her want to know more.


Linh: And then they were like, oh, if you stay in Texas, I think you should apply to UT because it’s a really good school. It’s affordable too. It’s affordable living in Texas, but not in Austin. I just realized that. But then it’s a good school. So after considering a lot of options, I chose UT! 


Emma: She said that attending high school in the US gave her an advantage when getting ready for UT. 


Linh: Because I went to high school in the U.S., so of course, I kind of have like, more preparation compared to other international students. Seeing I can see like, the people surround me, how they prep for it. And also my host mom is a person, helped me a lot. 


Emma: Linh said she didn’t like living in the dorm because of the small space and the limited Asian food options in the dining halls, but she still recommends living in one your freshman year at UT. 


Linh: But I think first year you should live in a dorm because at least you can make friends, you know? Since, like, other freshmen also live in a dorm, so it’s easier for you, like, to make friends and adapt with, like, college life…but I kind of want to experience it, you know? Like you have to experience something like inconvenient, hard in your life to realize that. You can do like a lot of things better. 


Emma: Linh has also found a Vietnamese community right here at UT.


Linh: Oh, I’m currently an officer for VSA, the Vietnamese Student Association and I’m a culture chair. So, as a culture chair, I have to organize culture workshops and culture showcases. And especially, culture showcase is coming up. Yeah, I’m kind of busy recently. Because the time commitment for VSA, just a lot, right? So most of my friends are from VSA. They are nice. I think it’s good that you can find the people that have the same, same, kind of same root, right? Same culture, and also like same identity. So it’s easier for you to share and talk to them. 


Emma: Like almost every student far from home, she still struggles with homesickness


Linh: Let me share my experience. Like, I don’t know for other international students, right?

But for me, whenever I get, uh, to the airport, I feel sad. Like, whenever I get to Houston airport, immediately I feel sad. Just because I know that other people, they’re gonna have their parents, their relatives to pick them up at the airport, not me. And also, I need to, like, Take care, 100 pounds of the luggage, it’s just, it’s just a lot, it’s just a lot, it’s heavy, and especially when you get to the new country, just, I just feel sad and empty, you know, living far away from my parents. Sometimes, you’re sad. You feel homesick, but you just cannot say it to anybody else, you know? Not everyone will understand it, and also you don’t want to spread, like, negative energy to everyone. So you just keep it to yourself. At the same time, you cannot, like, say it to your parents every time. I don’t want to make them worry about me.

So I just keep it to myself. That’s the hardest part.


Emma: But, she also enjoys her independence.


Linh: I can be like more independent. Not like financially independent, of course. I’m still a full-time student. But at least I can do, I can be like independent in other things. Like I can do everything by myself. Something that I have never experienced before. For example, like cooking. I have to cook every day now. So, that’s something that I enjoy. 


Emma: And, she’s developed a love for finding new Austin restaurants.


Linh: My roommate and I, we love eating. We love eating. So we go out every single Friday, like every single weekend, to explore, like, new restaurants. And we found that Italian food in Austin is kind of good. And the last restaurant we went to before spring break was Juniper. Yeah, Italian restaurant. It was good.


Emma: I asked her if she had any advice for future international students


Linh: When I like look back to my journey, I think I also need to tell my younger self that keep the option open because you will never know where you end up and who you end up to be. And don’t be afraid of anything and don’t be afraid of asking for help because you will never know that the person you talk to today will help you a lot in the future. 


Emma: Thinking about all of her experiences so far, she wouldn’t change a thing.


Linh: Basically, um, everything you experience makes you who you are today. Even like bad experiences. I don’t mind to take it again. Not like now… I don’t want to change anything. So thank you so much and goodbye. Cảm ơn mọi người vì đã lắng nghe tập ngày hôm nay và chúc mọi người một ngày tốt lành. 


*upbeat music*


Emma: People of UT is a production of The Daily Texan Audio Department. If you liked this episode, make sure you subscribe to The Daily Texan Podcasts on your streaming platform of choice and follow us on Twitter @texanaudio. This episode was reported and edited by me, Emma Ngo. The music is by Blue Dot Sessions and the cover photo is by Charlotte Keene. Thank you for listening!

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