Duong Leakena, 23, a senior student at Asian University for Women (AUW) majoring in philosophy, politics and economics, shared her life experience in Bangladesh with us.
By the young age of 18, Leakena won a scholarship to study her degree at AUWwith 500 female students from more than 12 different countries around Asia.
Going to study there wasn’t what she expected, but she wanted to experience life there. “Moving to Bangladesh was not my will, but it was an experiment on myself,” she said. Culture shock is her first impression upon arriving in Bangladesh. Women are rarely seen walking on the street or even shopping. Women mostly work inside their homes doing their household chores. “The first day that I got to Bangladesh, I was shocked by the crowds of men on the street. I was wondering where the women had gone.”
The first three months were the most difficult for her because she didn’t know how to interact with people there. With no choice left, she had to adapt herself to a totally different society. “I really appreciate what I faced because it taught me how to respect and value cultures that are different from mine.”
Arriving young and innocent, Bangladesh was where Leakena grew and learned to be independent. “If a little thing upset me, I got homesick easily,” she said. To deal with this, she chose to cope with her problems and stress by listening to music or playing sport.
Of course, aside from her academic activities, she has several favorite activities at her school including Japanese club, Yoni Kiban club (organising for the one billion rising event), guitar, and basketball. Leakena is also working part-time as a research assistant.
Because her university aims to cultivate successive generations of women leaders who possess the skills and resources to address the challenges of social and economic advancement of their communities, only female students are studying there. “It is the first time in my life to enroll in single-sex education, so the education environment is totally different. However, I am really comfortable being surrounded by women.”
Right now, Leakena is preparing for her final exam with the expectation that she will do well. She doesn’t really have any exact plan after her graduate, but she would like to spend some time working to apply what she has learned in fieldwork and to explore professional life.
Leakena has never regretted studying in Bangladesh, or at AUW, which she described as “amazing”. She said that through an amazing curriculum and amazing professors from many different places around the world, she has learned about not only the lecture topics but also the amazing leadership of her professors.
Time flies, and it is almost time for her to come back to Cambodia, with only one more semester to go. Spending several years at AUW, Leakena found that she is now more open and is a better critical thinker. “It gave me a special opportunity to meet and interact with many young talented women from different nationalities and backgrounds. I have learned many different aspects of life,” she said.