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E-mail from abroad: Iowa, USA

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My journey began in 2009 when I left Cambodia for the first time – and my life has completely changed since. Now, I’m studying at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa in the United States after receiving a full scholarship. I started as a freshman in the fall of 2011 and I’m double majoring in Computer Science and Economics.

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You may wonder why and how I could get here with a full scholarship for my undergraduate program, which is not very common for Cambodian students who study abroad – especially, in the US.

My studies abroad began at Li Po Chun United World College (LPC UWC) of Hong Kong in 2009. I also received a scholarship for this study from a competition I entered after graduating from Preah Sisowath high school in Phnom Penh the same year. In May 2011, I successfully graduated from LPC UWC and moved on to   the US.

I am the first student from Cambodia to attend Luther College since its establishment 151 years ago. Coming from a crowded place like Phnom Penh, Decorah, Iowa is different. It is located in a small town of mid-western America. The school environment and local people are so friendly compared to busy cities  that make it hard to find the time to socialise with others.

Luther College is a liberal arts school – meaning, students can design their own majors and minors. Unlike many universities in Phnom Penh, you don’t have to choose one department or major that determines what your job will be when you graduate. Instead, liberal arts school focus on gaining knowledge in all areas of education, while the student primarily focuses in one or two.

To save money and balance my living expenses, I work as a photographer for the school and also as a radio broadcaster and DJ at our radio station, Luther KWLC 1240 AM. Next year, I will work as a residential assistant – whose job is to facilitate and help freshmen live on campus. In America, most first- and second-year students live in dormitories at school.

As I look back on my journey from Cambodia, I realise that I achieved one of my dreams. But, dreams don’t just happen unless you put in the work. I might not have been the best student in Cambodia, but I worked hard and always appreciated the value of knowledge.

If you have a dream to study abroad, I strongly recommend UWC scholarships as well as other scholarships.

Whether you are still in high school or university, try your best to access every single opportunity that you can find. I  can promise you that you will never regret it. 

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