SFS Cambodia: Climate Change, Ethics, and Conservation (Semester)

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SFS Cambodia Semester
SFS Cambodia Semester
SFS Cambodia Semester
SFS Cambodia Semester
SFS Cambodia Semester
SFS Cambodia Semester
SFS Cambodia Semester
SFS Cambodia Semester
SFS Cambodia Semester
SFS Cambodia Semester
SFS Cambodia Semester
SFS Cambodia Semester
SFS Cambodia Semester
SFS Cambodia Semester
SFS Cambodia Semester
SFS Cambodia Semester

About

Spend the semester exploring Cambodia’s diverse ecosystems – from the great Tonle Sap Lake to the Gulf of Thailand. You’ll visit the ancient Angkor temples, study threats to biodiversity, learn about environmental justice and policy, and discuss traditional medicines with Indigenous communities. Embark on a country-wide expedition, spending time in an elephant sanctuary in Mondulkiri, the mountain and coastal ecosystems of Kampot, and conservation sites along the Mekong River.

SFS students live and study at the Center for Conservation and Development Studies – our most urban Center – which lies on the outskirts of Siem Reap, near the famed temples of Angkor. The Center is a breezy, modern campus nestled in a quiet neighborhood minutes away from the bustling downtown area where you will find restaurants, shops, and markets with unique Cambodian flair.

Highlights
  • Meet the gentle giants of Mondulkiri: Visit the Elephant Valley Project, Cambodia’s original elephant sanctuary, to study elephant behavior and ecology.
  • Spend the night in a floating village on the Tonle Sap Lake and learn from villagers about how they’re adapting their livelihoods to climate change.
  • Observe some of Cambodia’s most striking and endangered species: Cantor’s giant softshell turtle, Irrawaddy river dolphin, gibbon, adjutant storks, and many more.
  • Develop core skills including: Species IDs & wildlife monitoring, elephant behavior analysis, conservation grant writing, ethics & reasoning, basic Khmer language, research design & implementation, data collection & analysis, research presentation
  • Conduct research in some of the following areas: Elephant ecology, climate change impacts, traditional ecological knowledge, biodiversity conservation, environmental justice, Buddhism influences

Scholarships

The School for Field Studies Scholarships
SFS Awards More Than $650,000 in Need-based Aid Each Year

SFS works closely with your home school to help you fund your SFS program. Many applicants receive aid through their home institutions or other outside sources, so check with your financial aid office to see what aid may apply to an SFS program.

Value
$500 - $5,000

Questions & Answers

Reviews

92%
based on 6 reviews
  • Academics 7.8
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 8.7
  • Housing 9.2
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 1 - 6 of 6
Default avatar
Hanna
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Amazing Semester in Siem Reap

I had an amazing time with SFS Cambodia. The classwork is incredibly interesting and the ability to go into the field and connect what you have learned in class to real life experiences is unlike any learning setting I have been in before. The center is also located in a central location and it is very easy to get into downtown Siem Reap. The first portion of the program is very busy with homework and full days, which can sometimes leave you feeling overwhelmed and as if you have no time to actually enjoy the city you are living in. However, the directed research portion does allow for more free time because you are doing most of your work on your own. My directed research project was the highlight of the trip for me, as it allowed me to interview indigenous people in Cambodia, an experience that I will never be able to recreate in the future.

Overall, I would recommend this program to someone who is passionate about environmental science, and who is comfortable living in close quarters with a small group of people. You must be flexible, and able to adapt to situations that you may be unfamiliar with. Keeping an open mind and a positive attitude throughout the program is definitely one of the major reasons I enjoyed myself so much.

What would you improve about this program?
There were often long essays due during trips, and sometimes we had no wifi to do research and not much free time to actually do the essays and have time to explore the new places we were visiting. Some assignments for different classes also felt like they were reiterating the same ideas so it was sometimes hard to feel like you were writing anything original.
Default avatar
Karlie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

You will not regret a semester of SFS Cambodia

I didn't really know what to expect going into this semester. Before this semester, I had never traveled abroad, so going to the other side of the world for three months was a fairly big first step. However, now as the semester is wrapping up, I'm finding that I'm not really ready to leave.

There are several reasons why that's the case. First of all, the staff at SFS Cambodia is incredibly friendly and the community is very tight-knit, so everyone starts to feel like your family fairly quickly. Also, our living conditions at the center are incredibly accommodating and, frankly, luxurious. The food is some of the best that I've ever had in my life, and it is such a privilege to have every meal cooked for us.

As for the academics, I found all of the professors to be very qualified and all of the material to be fascinating, but I sometimes felt as if lectures could be made shorter. When we're not traveling, the structure of our class schedule feels very similar to high school, which is a difficult transition coming from a college campus. I also wish that we had more than a month to conduct our direct research project, because it is a lot of work to pack into a very short amount of time. However, having the opportunity to conduct so many field interviews is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and probably my favorite part of this program.

In general, this is a BUSY program, which can have its pros and cons. A lot of the work and field trips are front-loaded, so you don't really have time to sit around and think about how much you miss home in the beginning. Personally, during that time, I was so in awe of all of the amazing places we were going to that I couldn't feel homesick if I tried. That's not to say that I wasn't exhausted. If you hate waking up early, don't choose this study abroad program.

I can't imagine anyone regretting doing a semester of SFS Cambodia. It's such a cliche, but it is a life-changing experience in so many ways. I came here from a very high-stress university where I had a lot of responsibilities, little class time, and no one looking over my shoulder to make sure that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. SFS Cambodia is the opposite of that, and in some ways, I have grown to love it. While we're busy, we don't have to make our own schedules and the pace of life also feels slower. Compared to my home university, it has actually been so much easier for me to be present and appreciate the little, wonderful moments around us, of which there are so many in a program this unique.

What would you improve about this program?
Dealing with the many rules of this program was tough to say the least. Some of the rules were completely reasonable (i.e. conservative dress code for cultural sensitivity) , but other rules sometimes made me feel like a child. Going in, I knew that the program was strict. In fact, I thought I mentally prepared myself for that aspect of it. However, what I did not expect was to be located in the middle of a fairly bustling (and seemingly very safe) city full of young people who do not have any rules. Having a curfew as a junior in college was very tough at times. It's not a reason to not come on the program, but I just wish that I would have known that this program is not like other programs. It's very urban, which makes the rules feel a lot more suffocating at times.
Default avatar
Olivia
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Studying in The Kingdom of Cambodia

I had a wonderful experience with SFS. The Field Center is beautiful and was a great place to live and study. Since everyone lives and works in close proximity we became very close. Sometimes spending so much time with such a small group was a bit tough, but it was also comforting to have such a tight-knit community while being far away from home. It is also exciting to have friends from all over the country and internationally. All of the professors and staff are welcoming, which made for an easy transition. Meals were made by SFS cooks and the food was delicious (I still have dreams about the curry)! They were also very accommodating if you have particular dietary needs. The center is also very close to downtown Siem Reap. You can easily Tuk Tuk to restaurants or markets if you need a change of scenery. There are also many attractions around Siem Reap, such as Angkor Wat and The Cambodian Circus. These are fun options to check out on days off.

The program is very structured and there is a pretty detailed schedule. Between classes, homework, social activities, and field trips the semester is jam-packed, so free time is limited. The classes, particularly the directed research class, are fast-paced and require hard work. However, I learned so much through my classes and had a very enriching experience. The field trips and community engagement activities throughout the program gave me the opportunity to speak with local community members and learn about their experiences. This shifted my perspective on environmental issues and will continue to impact the environmental decisions that I make in the future. Through my directed research I gained invaluable field experience, which has prepared me to tackle my senior capstone this coming year and any future research opportunities. The cross-Cambodia and Southern Vietnam trips were some of my favorite parts of the semester. Cambodia and Vietnam are beautiful countries with rich cultures. It was eye-opening to learn about the different aspects of Cambodian and Vietnamese history and traditions. Visiting different ecosystems, landmarks, and communities in the region was also an amazing way to apply the classroom teachings. While studying in Cambodia I grew both personally and academically and cannot believe how many memories I made this past semester. Even though I just completed the program 3 months ago I am already becoming nostalgic and looking back on this program with fondness.

What would you improve about this program?
At times I was overwhelmed with school and felt like I was in an SFS bubble. I wish that there was more free time throughout the semester to interact with people in the community and to decompress. Some of the assignments were badly timed (i.e. while traveling). During these times it was difficult to participate in activities and take in experiences, while being stressed about completing a large assignment or studying. In addition, I wish that there could have been a longer home stay. I think this would have helped me to learn even more about the culture.
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Chandler
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience

My experience on the Conservation, Ethics, and Environmental change program through SFS was life changing. I went into the program with little knowledge of environmental ethics and conservation biology, but I came out of the program with a passion for environmental ethics and a more open mind. The professors on the program are all experts in their fields and have methods of teaching that ensure a full understanding of all material by the end of the semester. I never felt overwhelmed by the amount of course work because the professors were always available to offer assistance and all of the course work was genuinely intriguing. The directed research portion of the program offered a chance to focus the skills we learned during the semester on a specific topic that interested us. The research experience prepared me for the real world and for a career in environmental research more than any experience I have had at my home school. The setting of the Siem Reap center is very intimate. You live, eat, study, socialize, and learn with the same exact people the entire semester, and while this had definitely offered some challenges, we were a family by the end of the semester. I deeply valued my time with the other students and we are planning on having a group reunion in the near future! The housing arrangement was more than I could have asked for. There is enough space available for independent studying or if you just need an escape, but the center is enclosed so you always feel safe to roam around. The food prepared by the kitchen was amazing and the center staff are friendly and engaging. Being located in the city of Siem Reap offered many advantages. As students, we were able to go into the city to study in local coffee shops and explore the nightlife (all while being a 10 minute tuk tuk ride from the SFS center). I am incredibly happy with my choice in this program and would highly recommend it to anyone who is willing to step out of their comfort zone and immerse themselves in the Khmer culture. I will value the experience for the rest of my life.

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Victoria
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

So.. when can I move to Cambodia?

Having the experience to study abroad in Cambodia was the best thing I have ever done. This program is so unique in that it allows you to immerse yourself in a new culture, as it is part of your everyday curriculum. Whether that mean you get breakfast on a floating market to talk to vendors about effects of climate change or sit with monks in Angkor Wat to discuss tourist behavior, the SFS program allows you to deepen your understanding of relevant issues as well as learn more about a new culture. The professors on this program understand what it means to be global citizens and they show all facets of work that are done throughout Cambodia and the world. This experience really opened my eyes to what I can go on to do in the future, which is not something I even expected out of it. I came away from four months in Cambodia with a broadened view and better tools to tackle my next journey (which may be interning at an elephant sanctuary in Cambodia). This program gave me lifelong friends and experiences that I will simply never forget. Also, who doesn't love home cooked curry every night.

Default avatar
Goma
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cambodia 2017

I was in Cambodia in the spring semester of 2017. I escaped the cold and icy weather of Virginia and was welcomed by the tropical weather of Cambodia. Local people were as warm and welcoming as the weather. I am a Math and Environmental Science double major and I wasn't sure what career field I wanted to pursue after graduating from Hollins University. The classes in Cambodia were designed to help us interact with the local communities and understand the environmental issues faced by the community members. By visiting the community forests, mangrove forests, interviewing the INGOs, NGOs and local guides, I become more aware and exposed to the environmental challenges faced by Cambodia. Along with the educational aspect, I was really impressed by the cultural norms and practices of local people. I am originally from Nepal and some of the cultural and traditional practices were similar to Nepali culture, which I found really intriguing. My time in Cambodia allowed me to reflect the similarities and differences between my culture and the culture I was living in Cambodia. I had an amazing time in Cambodia and I am grateful to SFS, Hollins University and everyone I met on this journey.

About The School for Field Studies (SFS)

The School for Field Studies (SFS) offers field-based programs that revolve around environmental studies and research. The programs involve exploration of the human and ecological aspects of issues having to do with the local environments. Students...