Posted: September 7, 2016
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First Impressions of Cambodia


SFS students in programs around the world have arrived, and as they begin to settle into their new homes, we asked them to give some first impressions of the program. Tally Condon had this to say about her experience in Cambodia so far:

Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
The Directed Research component was a major deciding point for me—the opportunity to work with our professors on research projects relevant to local livelihoods is very valuable to the local communities, local NGOs, and in building up our own fieldwork skills as students. As an anthropology major, I was excited about this opportunity to do environmentally and culturally oriented field research in an area of the world I was only previously able to read about and study at a geographical distance.

What are your first impressions of the country?
Coming to Southeast Asia from August through December means coming during the monsoon season. After arriving, everything felt so new in the first few days that my main impressions were of humidity and heat, the ponds, and the lush vegetation around our center. A week later, my impressions now include the interesting conversations I’ve had with students we met at a nearby college, our Khmer teacher Nekru Sophea, our Angkor Wat tour guide Borey, and the shop owners and tuk tuk drivers from around town.

What are your first impressions of the field station?
I feel lucky to be living at such a beautiful center. It’s been great to be close to downtown Siem Reap for easy town access while having a separate space to create our own home together for the next semester. I’m feeling particularly grateful for Maly and Saran, the two cooks at the center who’ve made this transition really smooth for me with all their cooking talents.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
Academically, I think this program keeps its students very busy—in any given day we may have a mixture of lectures, class conferences, a field trip, or other relevant activities—so it’ll be challenging but so worthwhile to stay focused and take care of myself on top of taking full advantage of this opportunity. Culturally, I think the most difficult aspect of studying abroad for me will be dealing with distance from friends and family, something I didn’t want to consider when only in the planning stages of coming to Cambodia. My overall game plan is to immerse myself as much as possible with my new program, new classmates, new surroundings, and with the local community. So far it’s been working really well.

What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
Becoming closer with my classmates, getting absorbed in my classes, and being exposed to more Khmer history, culture, and language as we go on all of our field trips.

Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Fortunate, curious, stoked

→ Conservation, Ethics & Environmental Change in Cambodia

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