Surrounded by millions of big and tall Europeans with golden hair and long noses, a 24-year-old Cambodian woman, Ung Kim Oan, works hard pursuing her master’s degree in multimedia at Porto University in Portugal. As a woman, Kim Oan said it is especially important for her to study abroad.
“Being girls, we should study more and not care too much about getting married yet,” said Kim Oan.
“Studying is more important, and if we have the capacity, we can survive by ourselves and sometimes not need any support from our husbands.”
Getting to Portugal was no easy task for Kim Oan.
“In order to study here, I had to apply online and send a motivation letter, support letter, three recommendations and other official documents,” said Kim Oan.
However, getting a scholarship to study in Portugal was just the first step. Each semester, Kim Oan has to study four subjects including communication technology, photography, cinema and 3D animation. She said that studying in Portugal is very different from Cambodia.
“The study environment here is quite different. Everyone here is independent and most of the time they communicate in Portuguese. Therefore, I have to be more independent, and I struggle here.”
Besides the language barrier, Kim Oan said that she also has problems with technology. She said that the technology used in Portugal is very different from what is used in Cambodia, and that her lack of technological background gives her a hard time.
But despite her difficulties, she still encourages other Cambodian girls to pursue their study abroad. Furthermore, she said that the Portuguese are helpful and friendly toward her.
“When I’m present, they always try to speak in English. Professors often give me the documents in English and ask other student to study in English.”
Kim Oan also said that studying abroad expands knowledge and lets Cambodians know how big the world is and how poor we are. We can learn and develop ourselves and go back to share our education and experiences with other Cambodians.