Sunday, December 4, 2022

International Student Finds Community At Kansas MMA Gym

An international student studying at the University of Kansas says that MMA has played a major part in helping him settle into life in the United States.

Quoc Nguyen grew up in Hanoi, Vietnam but moved to the U.S. in 2021 to attend school with only a suitcase and a backpack. The 19-year-old was motivated by a desire to study in the same country that produced some of his favorite music and movies, but things weren’t exactly easy upon his arrival.

“I had nobody when I first got here, I started from zero, so it was really tough in the beginning,” Nguyen told The University Daily Kansan. “I would be so nervous; I wouldn’t eat anything. I’d get home and go straight to the Goodcents down the street so I could get Wi-Fi to call my mom.”

Many first-year students at college make friends by living in the dorms, but Nguyen immediately started living in an apartment when he came to the U.S. Although he did his best to make connections with other students during classes, it was still difficult to find a group of friends he could really settle in with.

“MMA Gave Me Everything”

Nguyen’s efforts to find a community at the University of Kansas finally hit a turning point when he approached a group of students training MMA at the campus rec center.

Although he didn’t have any previous experience with MMA, the 19-year-old did wrestle for the youth national team when he was growing up in Vietnam. Many of the sport’s most successful fighters come from wrestling backgrounds, and Nguyen immediately fell in love with MMA when he was invited to take a class at Lawrence Fight Club.

“I remember being so excited to go and try it out. That night when I got home, all I could think about was going back the next day.”

Nguyen struggled to settle in at the University of Kansas until he started MMA training.

The community at LFC immediately became a support system for Nguyen as he continued adapting to life in a new country.

“Everybody cares about each other. At some point, I was out of money, so one of my teammates brought me to his house after practice and game me food to take home.”

The 19-year-old has taken to MMA so readily that he’s already competed in two amateur bouts this year. Although he lost both of those fights, Nguyen has another bout lined up for February and hopes to turn pro at some point down the line.

“Before I was really lost, I had no family, no friends, no plan. MMA gave me everything. It saved my life.”

What do you think of this story about an international student that has used MMA to help settle into life in the United States?