Monday, July 18, 2011

UC Students’ Study Abroad Experiences

By Chrin Samvisal

Two outstanding University of Cambodia (UC) students, Lim Nguon and Chhun Seakkeav, recently arrived back in Cambodia from a five-month exchange program at Payap University in Thailand, and were eager to share their fruitful experiences during their studies there from October 2010 to March 2011. The scholarships were a part of a cooperative program between UC and Payap University.

UC students Chhun Seakkeav and Lim Nguon studied abroad at Payap University in Thailand for five months through a partnership between UC and Payap.
Lim Nguon, 20, is a fifth term student majoring in economics. He won the exchange program scholarship for one semester. Nguon said that although he is majoring in economics at UC, he decided to enroll in international business management courses at Payap.
“It is really beneficial for me to link and integrate what I studied at Payap to my major since those subjects are interrelated,” he said. “It was. . .[an]. . .interesting experience to study there with excellent professors.”

Nguon continued to say that he had to serve as an ambassador of Cambodia. He behaved in a way to best represent Cambodia, including having a positive attitude and behavior. He was also willing to share Cambodian culture with people from other countries.

“Though Thailand and Cambodia have similar cultures, at the international arena, I have to keep in mind that everything is not the same as in Cambodia as what I have expected, so I needed to be flexible and accommodating,” said Nguon. “I had to understand and appreciate other cultures, without judging other cultures by using my own cultural tastes and preferences.”

Nguon said that it was hard to manage his time between studies and social interaction, given that he had to spend much time doing research, completing assignments, and reading.
It was also quite challenging as a second year student taking third and even the fourth year courses, Nguon noted, adding that with hard work and effort, he was able to do earn straight ‘A’s in his courses at Payap.

“This was a really good opportunity for me to learn and explore beyond studying in Cambodia. It has enabled me to be involved more with the international students from many different countries around the world. As a result, I have gained a great deal regarding cross-cultural awareness, globalization aspects, and international business,” he said.

They performed a traditional Cambodian song at Payap’s International Day.
Chhun Seakkeav, 20, was another scholarship recipient of the exchange program and studied with Nguon at Payap for five months. She is currently a seventh term student of UC majoring in English literature.

She said she was delighted to win the scholarship after competing in a rigorous selection process led by a committee at UC, and that she studied a variety of courses related to her major at Payap.

“I took English Communication [courses] during the exchange program at Payap University, as it [is] connected with my major, English Literature. At Payap, I studied five subjects: Introduction to Poetry and Drama; Creative Writing; Introduction to Short Stories and Novels; Instructional Skills; and Southeast Asian Dance.”
Seakkeav added that the Southeast Asian Dance course did not relate to her major, but that she was very interested in Thai customs and culture and wanted to learn more about foreign traditions.

According to Seakkeav, her study abroad experience was different from her academic experience in Cambodia because she had to compete with studious students from different countries. The new academic environment pushed her to try her best in studying; otherwise, she would have been left behind.

“At Payap, I. . .[was]. . .confronted with an unfamiliar atmosphere because. . .[it was an]. . .international college,” she said. “I had. . .to be acquainted with lots of friends from different countries and cultures, such as America, China, Burma, Korea, Italy, England, Australia, and many other countries.”

Being a Cambodian student studying abroad, she tried her best on behalf of the Cambodian people. She said she felt responsible to promote Cambodia’s image positively to the international community.

It was tough for her to adapt to the new environment. Sometimes, she felt out of place and homesick. Yet being separated from friends and family has taught her to be more independent than before, she said.

Finally, she would like to thank UC for offering her chance to study at Payap and benefit from a life-changing experience. This opportunity has allowed her to build knowledge, strengthen her communication skills, learn how to adapt in the new environment, and become more independent and confident.

In June 2011, the University will send another three UC students to study abroad at Payap through a collaborative partnership between the two universities. Applicants will undergo a rigorous selection process to become one of the scholarship recipients.

Source: UC Bulletin March 2011, Page 22

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