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  • 執筆者の写真Hiroshige FUJII

My experience in Cambodia

更新日:5 日前

B3 Sana YAMAMOTO


I studied in Cambodia from December 2023 to May 2024 as an exchange student at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP). My half-year experience there made me mature personally.


I used to be in my first year of university when I decided to study in Cambodia. At the time, I was satisfied with the environment at Utsunomiya University and had never thought about studying abroad during my university life. However, a senior student majoring in a doctoral course at Utsunomiya University taught me many things about Cambodia. My image of studying abroad was to learn a language spoken in a country or to learn something using a language spoken in a country. As I was interested in studying in a developing country, the opportunity to study in Cambodia using English was very attractive to me, so I took the plunge and decided to study there.





The people I interacted with were all kind and nice, and I came to love Cambodian people and Cambodia. In particular, my classmates at RUPP are now one of my dearest friends. It was impressive to feel that they were kind enough to celebrate their birthdays, including teachers. I also remember that, on the first day of class, I was impressed by their willingness to speak and communicate in English, even if their grammar needed to be corrected. From them, I learned the importance of understanding and communicating with each other.


Classes were conducted from 7:00 a.m. to noon, so I participated in online Utsunomiya University classes in the afternoons or often went to a cafe with my classmates for group work. At RUPP, I took Core English, Writing Skills, Literary Studies, and Global Studies classes. Global Studies was fascinating because I could use the knowledge I gained through the courses at Utsunomiya University. It was also an excellent opportunity to learn Cambodian observation of Japan. In those classes, many group activities gave me various opportunities to deepen my interaction with my classmates.


Furthermore, one interesting cultural thing I learned from my classmates is that they have "partner-ish friends" who follow them whenever and wherever they go, like buying a bottle of water or going to the restroom during class. I also heard that Cambodians, for instance, engage in group activities so much that they even accompany you to a hair salon. Their personality of caring for others and easygoing is my favorite point of theirs.





In my interest area, international law, I visited the Tuol Sleng Massacre Museum, where the Pol Pot regime tortured its citizens. Words cannot describe how shocking what I saw there was. The rooms and tools used to kill people were preserved well and very sensational. And I learned that people can be so cruel, and I felt the stupidity of human beings. Also, I had a chance to talk with a student who is studying law at Phnom Penh. He told me that, as a Cambodian, he believes that the Khmer Rouge committed genocide against Cambodian people, everyone living in Cambodia, regardless of race, ethnicity, or background. His words greatly impacted me, so I decided to write my thesis based on his ideas for him and the local people. I saw many documents related to ECCC (Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia) at the Library of The ECCC Resource Centre (បណ្ណាល័យនៃមជ្ឈមណ្ឌលធនធាន អ.វ.ត.ក.), which made me realize the depth of international law.





Throughout my life in Cambodia, I have become physically and mentally stronger. It was my first time going abroad and even boarding an airplane. I encountered many challenges, such as the extremely hot weather, slight differences in customs, and sometimes the loneliness of needing help to speak the local language. However, thanks to the support from people around me, I overcame those difficulties individually. Time flies so fast, but it seems like yesterday that I set foot in Cambodia. The time I spent in Cambodia was my life's most important, unforgettable, and best experience. I am also very grateful to Professor Fujii for taking time out of his busy schedule to provide me with online classes and advice on international law, especially the ECCC case. I would like to continue to be exposed to many more stimulating experiences and grow as a person.





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