Through the lens: Capturing the old and new worlds of Europe

By Julie Kayzerman
Photos by Viet Truong

Viet Truong sits in front of the Eiffel Tower. A gold statue of a woman is on the left of the tower.
Viet Truong visited 18 cities and seven countries during his semester abroad in Lille, France.

December 19, 2018 — Eighteen cities, seven countries and counting.

Senior business administration major Viet Truong has made the most of his semester abroad, traveling all across Europe to witness “the contrast between remnants of the Old World and Europe’s modern advancement.”

Truong is no stranger to studying abroad. Originally from Vietnam, his study-abroad experience began four years ago when he first enrolled at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Vancouver Campus. During his junior year, he spent a semester at FDU’s Florham Campus.

When senior year rolled around, Truong decided to pack up for one last adventure before graduation — this time in Lille, France, at the IESEG School of Management.

“I chose Lille, France, as my destination because of its close proximity to other European countries so I could travel, because I had never been to [Europe] before,” he says.

Truong covered France, Poland, Monaco, Germany, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands during the semester. Now, with finals completed, he’s spending about a month visiting cities in Italy and Greece to top off the trip.

Viet stands in front of a church and carousel.
Truong stands in front of the Sacre-Coeur Church and carousel from the film “Amèlie.”

In France, Truong learned the legend of Mont Saint Michel and stood by the iconic Sacre-Coeur Church, as seen in the film “Amèlie.” He stood in awe of the charming canals of Amsterdam,

Netherlands — “one of the most dynamic cities I have ever been to.” In Nuremberg, Germany, Truong noticed how the city emerged from its infamous Nazi past to become “a city steeped with culture and the most scrumptious gingerbread.” He journeyed along the medieval city of Bruges, Belgium; marveled at everyone wearing sweatpants in Monte Carlo, Monaco; and stood in shock as people in Nice, France, swam in 55-degree water on early November mornings.

“This trip has opened my eyes to the way in which people live their lives,” he says. “I have come to admire the indulgent, yet passion-filled way of life that Europeans have.”

During his travels, Truong discovered a new passion in photography. Two cracked filters, one broken lens and a disjointed tripod later, Truong’s countless photos serve as a visual diary of his life-changing experience.

“Traveling abroad is an opportunity for you to discover not only the world, it also a chance for you to reinvent and discover yourself, shaping who you become in the future,” he says.

Studying at IESEG, Truong met several other exchange students from around the world, giving him the chance to learn about their respective cultures and share his own Vietnamese traditions in return. He became more independent, pushing himself to learn other languages in order to get through daily tasks.

“This trip would not be as memorable if not for the people that I met along the way,” he says. “The experience and friendships you will gain from studying abroad far outweigh the logistical and emotional barriers that you might have to hurdle through at first.

“The experience is what you make of it,” Truong concludes.

Truong in Mont Saint Michel, France (left), Amsterdam, Netherlands (middle) and at the Gardens of Versailles in France (right).
Truong in Mont Saint Michel, France (left), Amsterdam, Netherlands (middle) and at the Gardens of Versailles in France (right).
Truong in Paris, France (left), Nice, France (middle) and Barcelona, Spain (right).
Truong in Paris, France (left), Nice, France (middle) and Barcelona, Spain (right).
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