Student ventures out on first study abroad Vietnam


(PHOTO/Visarut Pawawongsak)

Alyse Nelson
Staff Writer

Since his arrival at Troy, Chad Downs, a junior marketing major from Santa Rosa, Fla., has been attempting to make his college years fulfilling and interesting. Thus far he has succeeded in making his experience a memorable one.
When Downs began his first year on campus, he admits that it was not what he expected from a college – he was shocked by the lack of involvement.
“It’s really hard getting people to join things at Troy,” Downs said.
But his problem could have been simply being unaware of where to look. “When I met my Vietnamese roommate – that was the trigger.”
With this connection, Downs began making more international friends. “I invited them to the beach, and they invited me back to Vietnam. It was pretty drastic,” Downs said.
Always ready for an adventure, Downs accepted.
After returning from his visit, Downs decided he wanted to make a more permanent trip. Rushing to talk to his adviser and apply, Downs transferred to a Troy global campus located in Hanoi, Vietnam during the summer of 2012. He was the first American student to do so.
“It was really because of love,” Downs said. “I became interested in studying in Vietnam 80 percent because I was in love with who would eventually become my fiancé, and 20 percent because I wanted to re-experience my first Vietnamese trip.”
In Hanoi, Downs took two business classes. Luckily, both were in English. “I learned a few terms, but the language is very difficult. Tone is very important,” he says of Vietnamese.
Because of the language barrier, his fiance, fluent in English, remained one of his only close friends while in Vietnam. “I didn’t have strong relationships with a lot of them because they didn’t speak English well.”
He still found it to be an incredible experience. “All of your senses are just overwhelmed,” Downs says. “It’s a city of eight million people. You smell gas fumes, coffee and herbs. You can always get used to it, but then it’s still new. It’s hard to explain.”
Downs returned to the Troy campus for the fall semester of classes after finishing his summer semester in Vietnam.
“Unless you’re the spontaneous or adventurous type, I recommend students go abroad to a country they have an interest and passion for. The more you know about the country you’re moving to, the better the experience will be. What you learn abroad will stay with you for life,” Downs says to others looking to study abroad.
Downs has also made other steps here in Troy to stay involved during his college years.
Downs founded a documentary club that meets regularly on campus. He is also an officer of ISCO, the International Student Cultural Organization. Downs said ISCO’s mission is “to spread cultural awareness and to share cultures.”
“I definitely want to turn marketing into a career,” Downs said of his major.
Interested in freelancing because of the flexibility of being your own boss, Downs has already taken steps to making a career. He has gotten several Troy clubs sponsored by local businesses as a self-proclaimed “middleman” while also writing for the online music blog,
Though initially disheartened, Chad Downs has made the most of his time spent at Troy. “Over time I’ve realized that this school has given me a lot,” Downs said.
“I want to make a great positive change in the school because it made a great, positive change in me.”

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