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.