The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting Danny Nguyen with a difficult challenge: being a student-athlete halfway across the world.
Nguyen, a sophomore golfer at Temple University, chose to stay in his hometown of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam this semester due to the postponement of Temple University golf’s fall season.
Nearly 9,000 miles away from his school and team, Nguyen is taking online classes while continuing to prepare for a possible golf season in the spring.
Despite an 11-hour time difference and the occasional internet malfunction, the semester has been going well, he said.
“Luckily, I got my classes to all end by midnight over here for me,” Nguyen said. “I don’t have to stay up or wake up super early.”
The American Athletic Conference announced on Aug. 5 that golf’s fall season was canceled, and there is no start date for the spring season yet.
Nguyen moved home when Temple’s classes initially moved online in March.
Vietnam is among the lowest number of cases and deaths worldwide, Devex International reported.
For Nguyen, not being around his teammates or his “second family,” has been one of the toughest, he said. Due to the time zone difference, he only talks to the team during their Zoom meetings every two weeks.
Compared to his first season, he misses his teammates and traveling around the United States to play tournaments, Nguyen said.
“It’s a very fun adventure every time and you learn something new, and you just create new memories, Nguyen added.”
During last season, Nguyen built a close bond with team captain Dawson Anders. The two communicate through text messages as much as they can, though no text can make up for in-person training, Anders said.
“I can’t see his progression, I can’t see what he’s doing, I can’t be hands-on helping with what he needs,” Anders said. “Like with any friend that’s a long way away, it’s just not fun.”
Nguyen plans on returning to Temple but is not sure when. It will depend on what decisions are made regarding the spring season and when his family feels it’s safe to travel back, he said.
Nguyen is staying sharp by training three times a week, mostly working to improve his short game, he said.
Part of his training involves participating in any local tournaments, though there have not been many because not many people play golf in Vietnam, he added.
When Nguyen first arrived home in March, he was immediately quarantined at a hospital for 14 days due to someone on his flight contracting COVID-19. He was put in a room with 13 other people and a shared bathroom while undergoing temperature checks twice a day and COVID-19 testing at the end of each week, he said.
The Vietnamese government employed a self-lockdown period starting on March 31 and ending on April 23, only allowing people to leave their homes for essential purposes, and established a nationwide mask mandate to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Business Insider reported.
Nguyen’s negative test results allowed him to leave a day early, but his family, who were already in Vietnam, had to be tested and self-isolate for another 14 days, he added.
Nguyen spent a lot of his time with his best friend Hoang Loc Nguyen before Hoang flew back to campus at Boston University.
Once quarantine ended, the two were able to go out more but still didn’t have a lot to do, Hoang Loc said.
“There was not much to do back in the city, other than going around to movies, cafes, and restaurants,” Hoang Loc added.
Life in Vietnam is mostly normal now, Nguyen said.
“Now I can walk outside without a mask, everything is opened up again,” Nguyen added.