She is beautiful and full of energy, with a warm smile on TV shows and a striking face on the catwalk.
Plenty of people are inspired by this 28-year-old Russian French woman, better known as Micka Chu than by her real name Maria Kalinina.
She's always full of energy. Photos courtesy of Micka Chu
Born in Russia to Russian parents, Micka moved to France with her mum when she was 10 years old.
She then got a master's degree in business and a bachelor's degree in French literature.
At 24, she moved to China for an academic exchange programme for six months, after which she came to Việt Nam in 2014.
“I was so curious to discover Asian countries,” she told Việt Nam News. “I had no thoughts and no expectations at all I was just very surprised to see how one Asian country is different from another!”
Micka worked for Francia Beauty Company for one year. After that, she went back to France to graduate and then came back to Việt Nam to learn Vietnamese.
“I knew literally nothing about the country and I never thought I would come to the country,” she said.
Her first days in Việt Nam were very hard.
“I had no friends, my luggage was lost and I was scared to cross the road because of motorbikes,” she recalled. “Then I decided to teach English and French, meet new people and drive a motorbike so things started to change.”
Micka said she felt disoriented and sad on her first days in Việt Nam.
“I literally had nothing to wear for my first day at work,” she said.
She has gradually found the country combines the typical cultural values of her homelands France and Russia.
“Vietnamese are like Russians in considering family No 1, though they go anywhere and do anything, they tend to want to return home,” she said.
Vietnamese people also share much in common with the French in their mannerisms.
"Vietnamese women are the same as French women in the way they should look beautiful and smart anytime going outside," she said.
She said her mother was worried a lot when she first moved to Việt Nam though she knew her daughter was strong.
Micka’s success soon persuaded her mother, who has visited on occasion.
For the past four years, Micka has worked as a freelance MC for Vietnamese TV channels like VTV3, VTV4 and netviet, as well as many private companies.
She also has written stories for Tuổi Trẻ Cười newspaper, play and film scripts. She has worked as an actress and model.
“One of my big memories was the participatiion in a Vietnamese game show named Đại Chiến Kén Rể with my mom and my friend,” she said. “I remember telling myself this is what I am supposed to do: be on TV, entertain people and make them smile."
Micka said she loves Vietnamese people and Vietnamese culture.
Each Wednesday you can watch Micka as an MC in Vietnam A to Z at 9.30 pm on VTV4.
Her home in a small lane in HCM City makes her feel comfortable. She can fix her bike, go for coffee, buy water and go for food from the apartment.
“The lifestyle is very convenient, simple and comfortable,” she said.
When asked if she would change her decision to come to Việt Nam if she were able to, she said without hesitation: “Of course not! It was the best decision ever. I went to an unknown country by myself and found myself here.”
Micka has travelled widely in Việt Nam.
An impressive model.
“During my shows, I discovered how different each region is from another especially regarding the food and the accent,” she said.
“I did traditional cakes for Tết, discovered the water puppets, worked with local farmers and went beyond my comfort zone.”
Micka is still learning Vietnamese and went to HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanity to study the language and take private classes. She chose to speak in a northern accent so people from various regions can understand her better.
“I like to watch Vietnamese movies and listen to the radio as well and try to practise as much as I can,” she said.
Micka revealed that she especially liked theatre and drama. Though she speaks Vietnamese well, she has never seen a play at a theatre in HCM City as she’s afraid she may not understand.
“I have a big dream of performing in a play in Việt Nam,” she said. “That’s another reason why I am trying to learn Vietnamese.”
She loves traditional áo dài and always wears one for events and shows.
Micka plans to host more shows, participate in more programmes and wants to make her own miniseries about Vietnamese people.
Inheriting music capability from her mother, Micka likes singing and adores pop star Sơn Tùng M-TP, who inspired her to study Vietnamese to sing his songs.
“I will stay here as long as I can,” she said. “Việt Nam is my home and a part of me is Vietnamese now.” — VNS