This is the second degree I’ve done at Cardiff Met. I fell in love with Wales when I first came up for interview. I’d been living in London to do my A-levels, but found I wanted to move to a smaller city to have the space to focus on my education and my career. I found Cardiff had the right courses and everything I was looking for in terms of university life. Applying to stay on was easy: I was an undergraduate in Illustration, so I already knew the tutors on my postgraduate course.
I’ve always been interested in becoming an entrepreneur. In my second year, I co-founded an entrepreneurship society. We’d get people in from outside to give talks, and run workshops for students to develop an enterprising mindset. The Centre for Entrepreneurship at Cardiff Met helped us out a lot – they act as mentors for start-ups.
I also signed up as an international student ambassador at Cardiff Met. We helped new students from overseas to settle into life in Wales, and I could draw on my own experiences. I found that was a really lovely thing to do.
The course has been teaching us how to launch a business in the creative sector. At the Art and Design School at Cardiff Met, there’s a shop where students can test-market their own products. If you want to sell something you’ve made, you can book a space in there and market it to staff and students. We’re now trying to revamp the shop to make it work better, and provide more accurate real-world experience in sales.
I’ve leapt at the chance to take part in student initiatives here. In my second year as an undergraduate, I applied for the Big Ideas Wales Bootcamp to Business – a weekend of workshops funded by the Welsh Government to help young entrepreneurs develop their idea. I got through to the final of that. Later, I found out about an initiative called Countdown to Launch, for students and graduates keen to start a business. We pitched to a panel and I won £1,000 funding to test my idea.
There are student societies all over the city to get involved in. To get to know more people, I’ve gone to events run by societies at Cardiff University and University of South Wales, as well as Cardiff Met. I’ve just been to a hotpot night organised by the Cardiff Uni Chinese society. There were people from all around the world, getting together over a shared hotpot meal.
There’s always plenty going on in Cardiff. I actually like to work in a café, with some background noise, so I spend a lot of time in the coffee shops in the arcades. I like all the bubble tea shops that have sprung up recently in Cardiff. And there are now a few more Vietnamese cafés and restaurants, which are great whenever I’m feeling
The friendliness of Wales will stay with me
Wales is super-supportive of students wanting to start up a business. I’m currently researching an idea about helping art and design students with their work experience while they’re studying, and I want to be ready to apply for a Start-up Visa as soon as I graduate. I’m hoping to stay in Wales to establish the business, because there are so many opportunities to thrive here. Further on in the future, I can hopefully bring some of that culture back to Vietnam.
I feel I’ve grown as a person in Wales. I think in years to come, it’s the friendliness here that will stay with me – even the smallest thing, like when you’re boarding a bus and the driver smiles and says, ‘How are you?’. When you’re someone who has been away from home for so many years, that really makes a difference.