A TEENAGER from Vietnam is experiencing life in Sunderland after winning an English language competition.
Thu Tran, 17, from Ho Chi Minh City, is spending four weeks learning English at Sunderland College, after triumphing in the competition organised by the British Council.
Thu beat 3,000 other entrants with her presentation on life in Britain.
Since arriving last week, Thu has been experiencing the cultural delights of the North East, as well as visiting London and Edinburgh.
She said: “I didn’t expect to win and was very nervous before I arrived, but I’ve been really well looked after by the college and everyone has been so friendly.
“So far I’ve enjoyed eating fish and chips and visiting the beaches, although the weather has been very changeable so I’m often feeling cold.”
This is the first time Thu has travelled without her parents and she is staying in Sunderland with other students from the Far East.
Sunderland College’s international team leader, Terri Freeman, is acting as Thu’s personal tutor during her time in the UK.
Terri said: “We’ve been so impressed with Thu since she arrived. She already has an excellent grasp of the English language but she’s shown great determination and willingness to learn more and make the most of her time in the UK.
“Sunderland College runs an excellent and very popular English language course every summer and Thu is really enjoying it.
“Our cultures are very different so it has been a good experience for everybody, introducing Thu to British customs and food as well as learning more about Vietnamese culture.
“Her visit will help build links with the people of Vietnam and encourage them to choose the North East as a place to study.”
Thu said: “I find the teaching here very different to back home.
“I think the students here are better supported and encouraged to use more skills.
“In Vietnam the British education system is considered to be one of the best in the world and I can see why.”
She added: “Sunderland is a great city. It has some very beautiful buildings and I like how close it is to the coast. Life here also feels a lot calmer. Ho Chi Minh is very busy and stressful.”
After the United States the UK is the most popular destination for international students, with about 400,000 choosing to study at British colleges and universities each year.