Posted: April 12, 2018

Dear prospective student,

Hello friend! We are not friends yet, but I’m sure we would be if you are interested in this program. I’m also almost positive that you will be close friends with all of the other people who decide to embark on this incredible adventure with you!

Initially I was unsure about studying abroad because I didn’t want to miss a semester at my university and perhaps you are in the same boat. If you are, let me tell you that making the decision to take a leap into the unknown and explore another country and culture has proved more worthwhile than I ever could have imagined. There may be a world of things you are hesitant about and that’s only natural but let me tell you that this experience really is one-of-a-kind and will be uniquely incredible in so many ways.

The program has far exceeded my expectations. The professors here are knowledgeable, experienced and have connections all over Cambodia. Through their personal connections, the field trips, and guest lectures I have had the opportunity to meet some very important people in Cambodia that I would not have had the pleasure of meeting otherwise. I have learned so much about this country: its people, food, religion, landscape, politics and so much more.

Do you need a break from strictly classroom learning? If so, you are looking down the right path my friend. So much of what I have experienced with SFS has been truly unique and immensely educational. The lessons in the classroom are really enhanced by the amazing field trips. Learning comes easier when everything we talk about in class is backed up by opportunities to see it firsthand, or meet others who are experiencing the very real environmental problems happening in Cambodia. Never before have I wanted to read the class readings more than I have on this program. I feel a deeper connection to the material that I am learning than I have in a long time and I firmly believe that comes from breaking away from the normal ‘classroom-based’ model of learning.

If I were to try and create an eclectic list of all the things I have learned about on this program so far, both academic and cultural it would go something like this:

– The diverse ecosystems in Cambodia and the many animals that inhabit them
– The best desserts in Siem Reap
– What is already being done in terms of conservation strategies and what is still lacking
– How to make it across a street alive in Vietnam
– The livelihoods of people from the coast to the highlands of Cambodia
– How to direct a tuk-tuk back to the SFS center while only speaking Khmer
– Environmental policies and principles that are in place or could be useful in the country
– What Prahok is (It’s a paste made from fermented raw fish!)
– How to sketch and identify birds that fly by really fast…

I hope that you are ready to be an absorbent sponge! They say that the hardest step to take is the first one from your front door so you should be proud of yourself for taking a risk and leaving your comfort zone, believe me you won’t regret it!

 

 

The floating village of Prek Toal on the Tonle Sap Lake

 

A calm morning in the Topeang Community Fishery

 

Cat circumnavigating Rabbit Island

 

Gill and Owen circling Rabbit Island

 

Rare pine trees on Bokor Mountain in Kampot, Cambodia

 

Megan giving a deer skull impression in King Norodom Sihanouk’s old villa on Bokor Mountain

 

The crew and Nekru Lisa looking at black-crowned night herons!

 

The crew on the Mekong River

 

An elephant at the Elephant Valley Project in Mondulkiri Pronvince

 

Butterfly catching and identifying

 

Rattanak admiring the sunset from the Prek Toal floating village

 
→ Conservation and Development Studies in Cambodia