As the Spring 2019 SFS students begin to settle into their new homes around the world, we asked them to share their impressions of the experience so far. John Dzurec had this to say about SFS Cambodia:
Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
I chose to study abroad with SFS because I wanted a learning experience that began in the classroom and was realized in the field. Already we have learned about deforestation and immediately went to a wildlife rescue and rehab center to learn about some animal species such as the gibbon primate displaced by forest clearing in the region.
What are your first impressions of the country?
My first impressions of the country were the overwhelming amount of smiles and garbage. The people here are amazingly welcoming to foreigners and will practice their “hellos” as we butcher a “sou sdai” in response. The garbage is impossibly rampant and quite saddening as we begin this semester to learn about conservation and development.
What are your first impressions of the field station?
My first impression of the Center is that it seems like a tropical resort. Palm trees surround the open kitchen, living space, and pool area underneath blue clear skies during this dry season. Cambodian employees and professors Maly, Kongkea, Ratanak, Tony, and Phana have been so welcoming and kind to bring us in and make us feel at home, especially with the delicious food we eat every day.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester, both academically and culturally?
Academically I think the hardest aspect will be the college curriculum on more of a high school schedule. 18 credit hours during 6 days a week of learning is a lot to handle, but awesomely interesting so far. Culturally, the biggest challenge I imagine will be trying to act properly around the different hierarchies of Cambodian citizens. They are nice enough to not mention faults, but respect and rank is hugely important here.
What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
I’m looking forward most to our island stay on the Mekong River.
Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Exhausted, Inspired, Content
Photo courtesy of Jen Maiorana