A Love Without Borders

10 March 2015

A Love Without Borders: Steven Yun and Cecilia NguyenSteven Yun and Cecilia Nguyen’s love has taken them from Sydney to Cecilia’s hometown of Oslo, Norway. The Master of Business Administration graduates met in class at UTS in 2011 and continue their strong connection with UTS through Yun’s work, which involves attracting and recruiting international students to UTS and other universities and Nguyen’s future study plans.

Steven Yun

I met Cecilia in our Global Strategic Management class and at first I thought she was quite shy and quiet, but that has most definitely changed! Once you get to know her and she feels more comfortable speaking with you, then it’s hard to keep her quiet. We met through a mutual friend and ended up in the same group for an assignment. We had to sell shoes through a business simulation game where we were competing in the same ‘market’ as the other groups in the class. It was fun but required a lot of work and many group meetings. So Cecilia and I were forced to get to know each other very well, and the rest is history.

A couple of my family members had some initial concerns; these were short-lived once they met her. Cecilia is a very kind, caring and generous person and she makes me laugh every day. So I’m definitely a lot happier and a better person as a result of meeting her. She gets along with my family and friends extremely well, and they’re very happy for us.

After Cecilia graduated she found it difficult to find a job in Sydney, so she moved back to Norway and we had a long distance relationship for about 10 months. We very much wanted to be together and we knew that we couldn’t do long distance forever. As she had already experienced Australia, we agreed that I would give Norway a go. I moved here just over one-and-a-half years ago. It was also the right time in terms of my career. I’d been with the same company for quite a while, climbing the corporate ladder as they say, so it was definitely time for a new challenge and a fresh start. 

Everyone was really supportive about my move to Norway; my family especially as they absolutely love Cecilia and saw it as a great opportunity for me to travel more. I love how easy and cheap it is to travel from Norway to other countries in Europe. Five weeks of annual leave is not too bad either! What I don’t like is how dark it gets during winter. I don’t mind the cold and I think the snow is beautiful, but the darkness and not seeing the sun for weeks can get a little depressing. Of course I miss my family and friends in Sydney too. 

I still have strong links with UTS. As a Marketing and Communications Manager at Keystone Academic Solutions we provide online marketing solutions to the higher education industry with UTS being one of our long-term partners. We promote UTS courses in 34 languages on our websites with the aim of attracting and recruiting international students to the university. 

I not only have UTS to thank for my education, but also for my relationship. We want to stay in Norway for at least a couple more years then reassess. Depending on our careers and our family situation, we’ll decide on whether to stay or move back to Australia. Of course, getting married is not too far around the corner either.

Cecilia Nguyen

I was finishing up the last year of my undergraduate degree in Oslo when my little sister Chau decided to move overseas. To support my sister and make my parents’ life easier – and to continue my studies – I decided to do my postgraduate degree at UTS while my sister did her degree at UTS too. Like me, she found it extremely challenging in the first year as it was very different from how we study in Norway. For example, at UTS we were assessed on presentations, essays and assignments throughout the semester rather than just a final exam. Once we got used to it we managed to achieve better results.

When I first met Steve, I found him very professional and a bit intimidating because he was wearing a suit in class. I wanted to maintain my high grades so I was very strategic with my choice of teammates for my group assignment during my last semester. Steve’s English was perfect so I thought having him part of my group would work to my advantage. He was very supportive when it came to studying and was almost always available to do group work. He was also the only guy in the group so he tried to be charming and funny all the time. Now I find his jokes very goofy and weird.

In the beginning he seemed to have an answer to everything and knew what to do and when to do it. The more I’ve got to know him, the more I’ve realised that he doesn’t have everything under control but he is trying his best. Most of my family members and friends like Steve a lot as they find him easy-going and easy to talk to.

Sometimes I get frustrated because I cannot express myself fully in English. Steve only understands and speaks English like the majority of people around the world. When travelling, I can’t always discuss bargaining tactics like I would with friends and family, so it can be difficult to have a private discussion without others understanding us.

Steve must miss Australia a lot as we always have to have at least one jar of Vegemite at home. Some early mornings when New South Wales play against Queensland in the State of Origin, or when the Bulldogs or Wallabies or Hawks are playing a big game I struggle to sleep because Steve’s yelling at the TV!

UTS has played a great role in my life; it has given me a good degree to build my career on. Today, I am working as a Commercial Lead at Aker Solutions ASA, one of Norway’s largest oil and gas services companies. I feel I have a great advantage coming back to Norway with the experience and knowledge I have gained from studying at UTS. Having said that, I have always wanted to do a doctoral degree at a later stage. If we move back to Sydney I am most certain that I would want to apply to UTS. 

Story by Tresa Ponnor, UTS International
Photograph supplied by Steven Yun

This article first appeared in U:Magazine / Reproduced with permission from U: magazine.