The key to go abroad is to be open minded- how come a Cambodian student ended up in Hungary?

Last year I accidentally  met Reaksmey Lorn, a kind and friendly international student from Cambodia.  He choseto study here, at our university in Veszprém.. I was wondering how on earth  he chose Hungary to continue his studies, as it’s far, far away from his home.  I asked him to tell us  about his studies and experience in Hungary.

First of all, tell me about your major. What are you studying here?

Right now, I’m doing my bachelor degree in tourism and catering. This is my second year here and I can’t wait to continue my studies.

70090679_2417934155194863_6976061662289723392_nCan you please tell me about the scholarship that you received? Did you find it difficult to apply?

It’s called Stipendium Hungaricum  offered by the Hungarian government including 15 places available for Cambodian students interested in bachelor, master and PhD degrees. The application procedure involved different stages to go through. . For instance, I had to go to the Ministry of Education, I had to submit the application online and also I had a short  interview with a university representative via Skype. It was a bit complicated, but absolutely  worth it. At first, I thought that it would  be difficult for me to apply, as it sounded   a lot more competitive than it looked at first sight, but after contacting someone who already applied or have been studying here, I received a lot of encouragement.  
Nevertheless, it is important to not lose your hope or give up.

How did  you find this Hungarian opportunity?

Well, it’s been five years since  this scholarship has been announced  in my country. I saw it first  on the Facebook page of the Ministry of Education. I found it interesting, so I wrote a comment below  the post and then a senior student from the university replied to me. She wrote me that if I was interested in  applying then she could help me.

Did you know anything about Hungary before you decided to come here? I mean anything about the culture, the language or just the country itself?

Yes, I’ve heard about it lot. Just think about the inventions! Everyone knows what the Rubik’s Cube is. I’ve also heard about some  historical events; for example the 20th of August is a special holiday for Hungarian people as the foundation of the state is commemorated on this day. I’ve also read about the happenings in the   country during World War II. Moreover, I’ve also heard that Hungarian  language is extremely difficult to learn.

What do you like the most about Hungary?

First and foremost, I like the tourist destinations. There are numerous beautiful places in Hungary. During the summer, I had the chance  to go to visit some parts of Lake Balaton. Budapest has a breath taking view as well. I simply go there and take a long walk and enjoy the view of the buildings. In terms of culture, I really like the Hungarian folk dance. I’m taking some classes in  folk dance as a PE elective course. Even though it is completely different from   the national dance in my country, I still enjoy it. I must admit that I like Hungarian cuisine as well.

Can you mention some cultural events that you participated in and liked the most here at the university?

Of course. When I first came here last year, I was living at the Központi dormitory where I participated in a cooking competition. We had to cook traditional Hungarian food in groups that , consisted of international students. It was a real challenge. It was such fun! It wasn’t really about winning or losing, but about getting to know each other. In addition, there was a Food Cultural Day in the last semester at Hotel Magister when international students were asked to  prepare their own traditional cuisines. In the end, they had do display it to everyone and let people  try them. I think it was a brilliant idea, because it gave us a chance to   share our culture with  different people, from around  the world.  Last but not least, I also went to the Freshman Ball last year. Even though there were Hungarian bands and I didn’t understand the lyrics of the songs, I still  enjoyed the party. Actually, it was the first time for me  to go to an event like that, as we don’t have anything like this in Cambodia. It was amazing!

Do you have any specific traditional event in your home country?

We have several, but the majority of them are religious events. For example, one of the most famous cultural events is the Cambodian New Year (បុណ្យចូលឆ្នាំថ្មី )that celebrates the Lunar New Year. The holiday lasts for three days and people are wearing traditional costumes while having fun.

Did you find it difficult to live here?  Do you have any advice for someone who’s considering going abroad?

What I found the hardest thing is that it’s difficult to talk with people, because some of them don’t speak any English or they’re too shy to talk in that language. Also, I couldn’t use the local transportation at  the beginning as there was no English version of the bus schedules available, but lately  they have been translated  into English as well. Now, I got used to the live here and I am so glad that I can study here. If you decide to go abroad for work reasons or to continue your studies, the only thing I could suggest  you is to be friendly and be opened to everyone. This way you can find many friends from all over the world that you can rely on.

(Photo: Reaksmey Lorn)