First impression of my abroad semester in Cambodia

Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
I was so lucky to learn about the study abroad program with SFS very early through my Environmental Science department at Hollins University. When I saw there was a program in Cambodia/Vietnam, the idea of conducting a research about the region where I was born and grew up made me excited to attend this SFS program. Additionally, directly hearing about the experiences of SFS alum, Kayla Deur, who is also studying at Hollins, is another factor that brought me to Cambodia with SFS.

What are your first impressions of the country?
The beautiful architecture of Siem Reap International Airport, which resembles Buddhist temples, blew me away after a long, never-ending flight. The hot tropical air and humidity made me sweaty in only five minutes after landing off the airplane. It is a good sweat, notifying me that I am actually coming back to the tropics and starting an appealing semester in Cambodia. I thought I was coming back home when I saw more motor scooters and bicycles than cars and more local markets than giant grocery stores in Siem Reap. This city possesses a mixture of various communities: from the dynamic zones of the downtown to placid roads of small villages around our Center. What strikes me most is the splendid appearance of the Angkor temples and the brilliance of ancient Khmer society.

What are your first impressions of the field station?
It is incredible to have a chance to stay and study with other students, faculty, and staff in the guesthouse equipped with an enjoyable lounge, an amazing opening-air terrace with a ping pong table, and a small, but beautifully diverse, garden. This small station has become a minimized version of my school campus: cozy, convenient, and full of amazing people. However, the field station is only a few minutes away from the downtown of Siem Reap, which allows us to explore the vibrant aspects of this small city. Last but not least, I am feeling like living in a heaven full of delicious meals of authentic Cambodian food, which satisfies my craving for seafood and tropical fruits.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
SFS program has an intensive schedule that requires students to push forward every day. I see myself having some struggles with time management in order to fulfill the academic requirements, get exposed to new places with my schoolmates, and have time to recharge.

What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
I am really excited for our monthlong field trip along Mekong River to the southeast of Vietnam, which I haven’t had a chance to visit before. It will be challenging but thrilling for all of us to learn and study in these different regions. All the field trips will be the most intriguing and valuable learning experiences for the students.

Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Sweaty, vigorous, and restless.

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