Hello! I am writing about what it has been like to live in Cambodia with twelve other strong and lovely female students, and why I am so grateful to temporarily be in this corner of the world!
Obviously, everything about living here is different than the United States, but it’s kind of amazing how much familiarity has surfaced; little things like Safi (our campus dog), good coffee, a climbing wall and chances to run around muddy streets makes everything feel a little bit more familiar. Besides what the obscene amounts of rice is doing to our bowels, adjusting to this place has been overall very strange and very fun.
Here are a few things that have brought me joy in the last month.
- Identifying medicinal plants at Phnom Kulen, as our shoes filled with monsoon water and our rain jackets became useless. Type 2 fun for sure. Personal opinion: waterproof material is fake.
- Safi the campus dog.
- Boating along the Mekong River as the sun went down and the stars went up! We spent a night at a homestay on an island, saw Irrawaddy Dolphins, and learned about a local eco-tourism project.
- Every meal! Our cooks at the Center treat us to new Khmer foods and homestyle comfort foods.
- The tiny frogs and geckos all around the Center.
- Cold showers after sweaty days in the field.
- Lokru Mono (our Khmer language instructor) and his endless patience with our endless confusion.
- Lianas that make you feel like Tarzan while trekking in the jungle for class!
- Biking on our homestay island of Koh Pdao! (Shout-out to my bike back in Seattle, whom I miss dearly.)
- Magical outdoor treehouse shower while at BeTreed, where we learned about the challenges of forest conservation efforts.
As you can see, it doesn’t take much to rejoice! And it doesn’t take perfect compatibility to have solidarity in a group.
I am very thankful to have started my last year of undergrad across the world and I am super excited to continue going places, interviewing locals and getting a better grasp of this country I have the privilege of living in. The long days of lectures can be pretty tiring, but the opportunity to learn so much is something I am very thankful to be doing, especially in this beautiful country!