Most students hope for a scholarship to study abroad, but only some get one. In addition to having skills and natural talent, students seeking scholarships must be able to struggle against the odds.
Kouch Sreyroth, who is studying in France, said it took perseverance for her to get her scholarship.
“Prepare for all things, try your best, be confident in yourself and never give up,” she said.
Sreyroth, 23, is pursuing her master’s degree in economics at the Université de Nantes in Nantes, a city in western France. Having won a scholarship from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2012, she has completed her first year and has one more left.
She said that many steps were required before she got her scholarship. First, she had to take the required French classes at the Royal University of Law and Economics in Phnom Penh.
“To take French class in Pole de Coopération Française at the Royal University of Law and Economics, I had to take an entrance exam. In general, there are only 30 to 40 students who can continue to year two in French class.”
During the third year, only the top 10 French students had the chance to apply for the scholarship, with only seven actually getting it.
“This scholarship depends on the score in the third year, so it’s the most competitive moment for getting the scholarship.”
Completing the degree itself, of course, is also a major challenge. In addition to passing exams for each of her eight courses that she takes every semester, she must also write a research paper. She said that she typically studies for about four to eight hours each day.
“In France, I find that students and teachers respect class rules very much. Everyone arrives to school on time and completes every assignment. Moreover, the second place they go to after class is the library, as reading and group studies are extremely important to the students.”
Communication is also an issue for Sreyroth.
“The most difficult challenge is not really the language, but the way to explain things. I have to read a lot. The time for reading is not only on the weekdays, but also on weekends.”
Without any experiences abroad, the move to France was also difficult.
“Weather, meals, and the locations all changed,” said Sreyroth.
“The language, culture, communication, and making friends are all challenging. But trying new things is a good experience. I might like it or dislike it, but experiences are worth trying.”
Despite her challenges, Sreyroth said that she is number three in the class while 11 students have already failed.
“To be an outstanding student in the class is not easy because the classes are so specialised, so I try hard to compete with the others. I am happy with my result.”
After finishing her master’s degree, Sreymoth said she plans to get a scholarship for her PhD in France.
“If I can get a good result in year two of my master’s degree here, I have a good chance of getting another scholarship for my PhD for three years or three and a half years. Therefore, besides my intelligence, I am hard working, I am flexible and have excellent preparation skill –these are my main selling points.”
“I’m lucky that my parents always encourage me and help me make my decisions, and I really miss my family.”
She also said that she wishes that parents had more time to speak with their children “heart-to-heart”, and that children should listen closely to their parents’ advice instead of only listening to what friends say.
“To be a successful scholarship student, you should have a precise goal in life, but life should be flexible along with discipline. To reach your goal, you have to challenge yourself, and you must have perseverance and discipline in yourself.”