Students and lecturers in Latvia. Photo Supplied
Applying for scholarships to study abroad is not an easy task, but arriving in a foreign country and adapting to the new environment may be even more difficult.
“The first few weeks after I arrived here, I suffered from homesickness, and I missed my family, friends, food and Cambodia so much,” says Tang Uymeng, 22 years old, who went to Latvia on the Erasmus Undergraduate Exchange Program to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.
“I spent over a month adapting myself to the new environment and culture.”
He added that the weather in Latvia is very cold and the food is tasteless compared to Cambodia’s delicious cuisine.
In addition to dealing with the new environment and culture shock, Uymeng also had to deal with different ways of studying.
Although the courses are in English, Uymeng said that he often has trouble submitting homework and assignments on time. The deadlines are much stricter, he said, and the work more demanding. Sometimes, Uymeng does not finish his work until 9:30pm.
Uymeng also has trouble getting around the city he lives in. While Cambodians usually get around by tuk-tuk, taxis, cyclos, motodops or personal transportation, Latvians usually use public transport options such as trains, buses and trams.
“Sometimes, I have to run to catch a bus. If I do not do that, I have to walk quite far to go to market and university,” said Uymeng, who added that distances between places in Latvia are greater than in Cambodia.
However, Uymeng added that studying abroad is also a great opportunity. He said that he has learned how to do things for himself that he has never done before, such as cooking for himself.
“Even though studying abroad is quite challenging and difficult, it does bring us to a new world where you can learn and experience many new things in life. I have learned many thousands of things in my time abroad.”