The University of Cambodia (UC) welcomed five female exchange students from the United States on March 26. The students participated in the Southeast Asia Comparative Studies (SEACS) program in Cambodia and Thailand, and spent a total of four months in the two countries. They studied for two months at Payap University in Chiang Mai and then another two months at UC in Phnom Penh.
|In addition to taking courses at UC, the American exchange students visited Siem Reap and other cultural|
and historical sites as part of their learning expeditions in Cambodia.
The exchange students, who came from different universities around the US, were Kelly A. Botteri, Mallory Fink, Julia Ratzlaff, Naomi David, and Natalie Knowlton.
The exchange students took two courses at UC: “Contemporary Cambodia: History and
Society” with Dr. Kyle Latinis, and “Khmer Language and Politics of Development in Cambodia” with Dr. Kheang Un.
According to the students, they had a great time studying at UC and think that the
University and students cooperate well with each other to create an educational system that develops both hard and soft skills.
“I think UC provides such a good and inspiring learning environment because all of the students are very serious and diligent about their studies and work,” said Natalie, who is a junior (third year student) at the College of Charleston in South Carolina majoring in International Business and Minoring in Asian Studies. “Both of my classes have been extremely insightful into Cambodian history and culture as well as the Khmer language.”
|The students performed the “Kingdom of Wonder” song during the Khmer New Year celebration at UC.|
Although UC is smaller than some of their colleges they attend in the US, the exchange students said that UC is a great place to learn and a few said that they were more inspired and excited about studying in Cambodia than in the US.
“There is something about being in a foreign country that invigorates you to want to learn and do more than you would in your home country,” said one of the students.
In addition to studying, the students also participated in the social activities at UC.
During the Khmer New Year celebration at the University, the exchange students sang the “Kingdom of Wonder” song and wore traditional Khmer dresses. The students expressed that it was a “new and awesome experience” because they learned some Khmer dance steps and felt more attached to the Khmer culture.
“It [Khmer dancing] is marvelous, eye-catching and gentle, and I wish to learn more about it,” said Kelly, a junior at Saint Anslem College studying Sociology and Latin American Studies.
Living in Cambodia as foreigners was both fascinating and challenging for them, according to the exchange students. While they had a great time in Cambodia, they experienced some challenges in regards to the weather, food, and heavy traffic. Some of the students were not accustomed to the hot weather so they had to adapt to the climate. In addition, because they are used to eating Western food, some of the students experienced stomach problems, but they all enjoyed eating Khmer cuisine. Moreover, the students had some difficulty navigating traffic in Phnom Penh when they biked back and forth between their residence and UC.
They also visited some tourism sites in Cambodia, namely Phnom Chiso and Siem Reap, and were very impressed to see Angkor Wat.
“Siem Reap was really fun and Angkor Wat was so amazing,” said Mallory, a junior at the University of Rhode Island majoring in Film and minoring in Philosophy. “It is crazy to think that we had the chance to be in a famous place with so much history.”
The exchange students also said they love Cambodia and UC, and that they think Cambodia is becoming more developed and is doing well integrating with the rest of the world.
Source: UC Bulletin June 2011, Page 10