Narin and Menghourng are year four students of the Department of Media and Communication and reporters for Lift magazine.
They were awarded a two-month internship at the Statesman newspaper in Kolkata, India and were keen to share their experiences there with Lift readers.
“There’s no place like home”, an expression coined by the American author L. Frank Baum, expresses the difficulties people encounter while living in foreign countries.
It was the first time we had set foot outside Cambodia, and we were immediately reminded of Baum’s saying when we arrived in India.
We didn’t take it to heart, however. Although we experienced some difficulties, they were all part of life in the wider world and they proved beneficial to our understanding of life in India.
I always kept the words “patience” and “adjustment” foremost in my mind and tried to adapt to the way of living here.
Kolkata, India’s second-largest city, was founded in ancient times and has many historic buildings. It has almost 15 million people – about the same as the entire population of Cambodia.
After our plane landed at midnight, we travelled from the airport to our accommodation in a taxi.
We discovered that the roads here are similar to those in Cambodia, but we saw a lot of poor people sleeping on the road.
Morning, noon and night, we would also see people taking a bath beside the road. A lot of birds were flying around in the city and goats ambled down the middle of the road.
What shocked us most, however, was the traffic, which is very busy. Various forms of transport – buses, taxis, trams, three-wheeled motos and Romaks – convey millions of people every day.
As all these vehicles fight for space and try to squeeze their way through endless traffic jams, thousands of people wait beside the road to be picked up – especially at rush hour, when there is an enormous exodus leaving the workplace for home.
Because we were unaccustomed to this chaos, we found it difficult at first to pick up public transport. Everyone was hurrying to get on the vehicles, which drove very fast. We were constantly afraid of getting into an accident, but so far we haven’t seen any. We have, however, got lost a few times.
Talking about food, so far we haven’t tasted any Indian food because we don’t think it smells very nice. It also looked rather unclean when we saw people on the street eat food from their palm.
I can truthfully say that some places in Kolkata are not kind to our noses.
One strange thing for us is that people at some work-places start work very late in the morning. My workplace, for example, starts at 10 or 11am. And most shops are not open at weekends.
Even though there were some challenges for us, we still enjoyed life in India because the people were really friendly and helpful.
Transport is quite cheap, and there are lots of places to visit.
We went to the Alipov Zoo to see some wild animals. We felt very happy and we wanted to see it again.
In addition, we have spent some time in the evening visiting the Victoria Memorial, which is a nice old building with a pretty environment that includes a lake, flowers and birds. We enjoyed taking photos and seeing the fantastic view.
Working here was fine for us. Bylines here were very important for us because the newspaper was credited. So far, we have produced some articles both in breaking news and features.
This was just our experience in Kolkata, not in other cities or in India as a whole. All in all, we’ve enjoyed Kolkata, and we plan to visit other interesting places here and in other cities.