Final Impressions of SFS Cambodia

Posted: May 12, 2015

Read Sarah’s First Impressions

What did you like most about the SFS experience?
It is hard to determine what I liked the most because the experience was so diverse and rich… so, I will list a couple things I liked the most.
1) The group living. We all became so close, including professors and staff.
2) Putting theory into practice in the real world with so many field trips!
3) Being immersed in Cambodian culture—language, food, homestays, village interviews, etc.

You’ve been in the country for a full semester – tell us your impressions of it now.
Cambodia is a country in the midst of healing after a dark and troubled recent history. I am amazed at how friendly and receiving people are here. I feel warmly welcomed, whether it is walking the streets hearing children yell “Hello!!” or in villages when we are welcomed into homes to conduct interviews. Furthermore, Cambodian culture goes far beyond the Khmer Rouge period, and it’s great to learn about its ancient history and traditions. Cambodia is a country very different from the U.S. which makes for a lot of cross-cultural learning experiences. Honestly, I love Cambodia.

What is life at the field station really like? What are the best and the most challenging parts of living at a remote field station?
We, students and staff, in the Living Mekong program are unique in the sense that we are not living in a remote field station. Within a 15 minute tuktuk ride, you are in town center or at Angkor Wat; you can even walk downtown! It’s great being able to go into town to do recreational activities. There are also many markets nearby that are fun to walk into and explore.

What ended up being your biggest challenge this semester both academically and culturally?
Directed Research was definitely the most challenging part of the semester academically. We worked on DR nonstop for nearly three weeks, from data collection to data analysis and write up. Everyone was tuned into their project and very busy! It was worth it in the end, but was a challenge during the process. Culturally the most challenging aspect was the different views of women in relation to outward appearance and behavior held by people in the Khmer society, which is much different than what most of us were used to.

What is the best memory you have from the semester? Give some highlights.
Sweating profusely, as a group, noticing everyone sweating profusely… and being somewhat miserable in the moment then laughing about it the next day. This was especially the case when the electricity was out for 5 days.
Going to the circus together!
Being able to see Preak Toal, a floating village, and doing a homestay there.

Give three adjectives that best describes how you are feeling right now.
Lucky. Happy. Learned.