By: Emma Brewer


By: Lucy Stiff

Posted: November 9, 2022
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Student Post

Packing Priorities: Cambodia


If you follow our advice, you will have room in your luggage for the most essential item: the game of Uno…

Hello! This one is for our fellow anxious packers!

We are Emma and Lucy; students in the SFS Cambodia Fall 2022 semester. We instantly bonded when we moved into our room, realizing we both completely overpacked for the semester. You would think we would’ve packed a reasonable amount of clothes for our trip to Cambodia, like our sensible classmates, but no, we are chronic over packers. We both struggled to carry our bags in the airport because we each checked two full suitcases and had two carry-on items…

Currently, we are on our long trip, sitting in a hotel room in Mondulkiri with piles of clothes surrounding us, contemplating how we got here. Multiple changes of clothes per day? We got it. Any type of medication or toiletry product? We got it. We even brought stuff we’ve never used at the Center, just in case. In this moment of realization, we thought it could be beneficial to advise future SFS students on what to bring and what not to bring.

For starters, pack fewer clothes than you think you will need. Siem Reap and all the amazing places you will visit during this program have an abundance of wonderful shirts, skirts, and pants that are affordable (especially if you learn how to bargain in Khmer). You will thank us later for having some extra room in your suitcase for souvenirs. However, please DO NOT apply this rule to field clothes. Field work is some of the most fun you’ll ever have. You will be smelly, wet, and HOT in the humid jungles of Cambodia. So, make sure you pack extra socks and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty (we’ve learned that sink laundry is a life saver). Finally, pack some long workout shorts, even if you think it’s not stylish you will appreciate it when you learn kickboxing with Tim or running a marathon at Angkor Wat.

(Wearing our stinky field clothes in the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary after waking up at 4am to see Gibbons.)

If you follow our advice, you will have room in your luggage for the most essential item: the game of Uno. It is all you will need to have a great time with your new friends. Even if you are smelly from not having an extra change of clothes, you can laugh it off over a game of Uno. Nobody cares what you smell like when you just got skipped four turns in a row and must take twenty cards (…Emma).

(The two of us on Tonle Sap Lake, shoeless per usual…)

We know how stressful it is to pack for a three-and-a-half-month trip, but you don’t have to worry. You should focus on making new friends, rolling with the punches of field work, and living in a foreign country.

Have fun and we wish you pack lighter luck than us!

Lucy & Emma


Curious about the SFS Cambodia Center? Click here to read about why we’re based there, our environmental research focus, how we connect and support the local community, and even take a tour of the Center.

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