For many Cambodians, Vietnam is not a place they would want to study. However, Khan Bunthoeun, 20, said that it is not such a bad place to get an education.
“I do not care about the other’s policies. I think of only my study to support my family and society.”
Born in Kompong Speu province, Bunthoeun has been studying in Vietnam since 2012 on a scholarship. When he learned that he passed the scholarship exam, he hesitated whether or not he should pursue his education in Vietnam because of rumours that Cambodian students are mistreated, that Vietnam forces their ideology onto the students, and that they would be killed if they were smarter than the Vietnamese students.
However, he said that it turned out that Vietnamese and Cambodians can get along after all.
“Vietnamese people love Cambodians, unlike what has been said.”
Bunthoeun chose to study in Vietnam for six years because it has been his dream to be a doctor since he was a child. But he was born in a poor family, and his parents could not afford medical school because it was known that it costs a lot of money.
Bunthoeun admitted that he faced some problems, especially homesickness, missing the rice fields, and his family, who all lived under the same roof. However, he said that he would not let this stop him from seeking a bright future in order to support his poor family and bring them honour.
He also tried to play ball with his Cambodian and Vietnamese friends in order to reduce the feeling of homesickness, and it was effective. At first, he went to Sentai in order to learn the Vietnamese language before beginning school.
As soon as he took his first step at Thai Binh University, Bunthoeun felt so excited because the university design was so neat, and the university had modern buildings as well as a garden.
“The buildings in Taiping looked mostly like our buildings at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, but they have a tall building, similar to Canadia Tower, used as a laboratory for practice after we learn the theories.”
The fashion styles for students and lecturers there made Bunthoeun surprised. Both male and female students wear long sleeve white shirts and jeans, but the students did not play around with their hairstyles. Male students had short hair, similar to Cambodian students, and female students tied their hair up. In Vietnam, both male and female students like wearing sneakers.
For lecturers, they were not different from the Cambodian lecturers. However, the female lecturers mostly wear their traditional clothes, as well as a lot of makeup.
The university that Bunthoeun studies in has exams every week, which means he has a lot of work.
“I do not have free time to think of nonsense things, but only studying. Their government seems to pay attention to education.”
Bunthoeun recommended that any student who wants to study abroad consider Vietnam.
“Students should know that Vietnamese scholarships, and other scholarships, are good for us, especially for those who are not rich. Do not think that we are mistreated.”