International Owls: Khoa Pham

As students from around the world flock to the owl’s nest, cultural differences are bound to arise, and each student must find their own way to navigate a new lifestyle.

Khoa Pham is an international student who is originally from Vietnam but lived in Australia for a few years. His parents own a hotel in Vietnam, which inspired Pham to go into the hotel business as well. Pham obtained a bachelor’s degree in hotel management in Australia, but business and accounting interested him more.

Now, he will graduate from KSU with a business and accounting degree in 2021.

Pham said he chose to move to the U.S. two years ago because there are more opportunities in the U.S. than Australia and a degree from the U.S. holds more weight in Vietnam.

“You have more opportunities right here,” Pham said. “If you are willing to put in the work, you are going to get something in return.”

One of the aspects of American culture Pham admires the most is the “hustle” a lot of people have. Some of the people he admires are Eric Thomas, Muhammad Ali and Steve Jobs. Pham said these inspirational figures give him hope and remind him to never back down.

In terms of academia, Pham said Australia and the U.S. are fairly similar. Both countries have an emphasis on getting students to understand the content instead of just memorizing information as he experienced in Vietnam. He also said his schooling in Vietnam had a focus in math and science, while U.S. schooling emphasizes all subjects.

While Pham really enjoys American education, food and music, he has struggled with encountering discrimination because of his nationality and accent.

Navigating through cultural barriers and blatant discrimination is complicated, but Pham said he does not let these challenges keep him from doing his best at KSU.

“KSU is the best school to study,” Pham said. “[KSU] specializes in accounting, business and administration.”

Pham originally found KSU through the research and encouragement of his cousins who live in Atlanta. Now, he has been an owl for two years.

Pham lives with three local roommates at U-Point and gets along with them pretty well. He has learned a lot from them in terms of culture and customs, but he has also brought organization and cleanliness to the apartment through his cleaning schedule.

Hoping to stay in Atlanta after he graduates because of the rising economy, Pham plans to go to graduate school at either KSU or Georgia State upon finishing his undergraduate degree. After that, his goals are to maintain a good GPA, work for multinational firm Ernst & Young upon graduating and maybe open his own business in the future.

Pham’s advice for international students is to choose friends wisely, ignore the people and things that will only try to frustrate and upset them and focus on getting the job done to achieve their dreams.

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