Jussi Ahola

Curious humanist


In June and July I was travelling in Southeast Asia. While on a layover in Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City, as it’s officially known today), Vietnam, I met a man who introduced himself as Hwang. For the first few seconds I thought that he was trying to sell me something (as a westerner travelling in the Mekong, that can happen), but turned out that that was not the case. Hwang was an engineering student in a local university, but he couldn’t afford to take part in an advanced level English course. Determined to improve his language skills, Hwang wouldn’t let this put him down and instead now spent his free time roaming the streets of Saigon, looking for travellers with whom to practice English. We chatted for a good half an hour, he offered free travel advice, we shook hands, and parted into the twilight of a tropical metropolis.

At the point when Hwang realized that he would not be able to take part in the English course, he had two options: The first option was to accept his faith, resume his day-to-day life, and let his skills stay on the same level or decline. The second option, and the one that he chose, was to think laterally to find a different way to improve his skills. Because of the choice Hwang had made, he was now improving every day at a pace that I suspect was faster than that of an average language course student.

Hwang’s example should be inspiring to anyone who has ever found herself in a similar position. Don’t have the means for the resources needed to master a new skill? Maybe you can do something like Hwang did, or hustle for some quick cash. Didn’t get into a university to study your favourite major? Take a free course by a better teacher. Don’t have enough time? We all have the same 24 hours every day; it’s just a question of how you choose to spend those hours.

Create your own luck.