The Best Decision I've Ever Made: Cambodia Past Review

By (Museum Studies, Meredith College) for

Study Abroad Programs in Cambodia

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
YES! It was worth every cent. Honestly, it was the best experience of my life and almost daily I wish I could go back again. I feel more aware, knowledgeable, and capable. I am ready to go to more places, and ready to take on new challenges!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload was fine, although the amount of reading we had was difficult to get through in such a short amount of time. The lecture/field trip/speaker style of teaching worked perfectly in this situation, I felt. I truly enjoyed our teachers, Dr. Evans and Dr. Kim; they always had a great perspective and were helpful all around. The educational system was not that different, though being in classes with Khmer students was very enriching and I greatly enjoyed it.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

It was easy to do everything I needed to do (get food, get bandaids, etc) once I learned the city a bit. You just have to take a day or two and explore with friends - walking is best, but tuk tuk is good too. The support staff on this program are somewhat hands off, which I loved, but they are certainly available and there to help you.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My homestay lasted for 2 weeks and it was a transformative experience. I learned more Khmer, learned to cook Khmer food, interacted with new people, and learned how to get around the city. I experienced life in a typical Cambodian home, which is priceless. It certainly was safe and comfortable, and you need to realize that the heat, rain, and bugs are just part of it!

* Food:

Be aware that there is a lot of fish and pork, and tons of rice! You should try everything, and you probably will get sick once, but it's worth it!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Oh my gosh - everything was amazing! The National Museum, Tuol Sleng, the Killing Fields, the monuments and temples, rice fields, my homestay... Kep, the coast, Rabbit Island - there are too many memories to name all of them! Some were arranged by the program and others I did myself.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Siem Reap and Phnom Penh were fairly safe, and I never felt threatened or scared. You do need to be aware of yourself and of your surroundings, and learning a little of the language will help. Be respectful, dress like they do, be modest, and be cordial and you'll be fine!

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

The Khmer students and our intro teacher. I did use a bit of the language on a regular (multiple times per day) basis. Many people did speak English, but we mixed words.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • I liked that the program allowed us tons of free time and great classes.
* What could be improved?
  • A little more orientation at the beginning.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Know that Cambodia isn't for the faint of heart. There are moral issues to contend with, sad things you will see, and amazing things you will experience. You will be sometimes uncomfortable, and it will push you out of your comfort zone. You should embrace all of these things, and step off the plane with a smile and willingness to learn and do it all!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Nation Building

Course Department: (not sure)
Instructor: Dr. Sedara Kim
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The course was very challenging, but it was also fulfilling and beyond informative. It helped me get my footing in Cambodia, and it helped me put the history of the country in context. It opened my eyes to the international nonprofit world, how America is viewed, and how countries "play" on a global level. I participated at the same scale - a lot! The teacher was impressive and helpful, and I was honored to have had the class.
Credit Transfer Issues: No.
Course Name/Rating:

Cambodian History and Culture

Course Department: Not sure
Instructor: Dr. Damian Evans
Instruction Language: English
Comments: I felt the same about this course as I did about the Nation Building course - it was enriching, informative, challenging, and helpful. It was intellectually stimulating and truly added to my research and experience.
Credit Transfer Issues: No