This blog post is written by Pich K., one of our IEP student council members. He discusses his first time studying abroad: what was exciting, challenging, and his hopes for the future. Thank you, Pich!
As a child who grew up in the countryside and moved to live in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia in the last 6 years, I had never thought that one day I could study abroad as other people did. Even currently I have been living in the United States, it still looks like a dream to me because it is unbelievable that now I am a student of the University of Washington, one of the top universities in the United States and the biggest and the best university in Washington State.
After graduating from one of the universities in Phnom Penh in August 2017, I wanted to further my study by pursuing master’s degree in the United States. As English is not my first language and the English language proficiency requirements of each school is so high and I thought I couldn’t attain it, I decided to apply to the Intensive English Program University Track of the University of Washington in order to improve my English and meet the school’s requirement.
After receiving an email from IELP which stated that I was accepted to study in their program, I was both happy and sad because I had to leave my family for a few years. In mid-September 2017, I arrived at Seattle and my journey started. For the first few days in the school, I looked like a crazy guy who always said “WOW” and “WAHHH” during the time I was toured around the campus. It is very beautiful, and I had never seen this such big and gorgeous campus like this before. Each building has its own unique and attractive style. I spent the first two days walking around the campus, U-District and U-Village as well. There are many stores and international restaurants along the University Way which make me feel that I can live abroad for a few years because there are Asian restaurants as well and their dishes are quite good (I can only eat Asian foods), but little bit more expensive than in my country.
First day entering a classroom was extremely amazing. I knew no one and I think other students also did. The first two classmates that I knew are from Saudi Arabia. Then I knew many more friends and we are from different countries. I felt a bit sad because I’m the only Cambodian students in the school whereas other countries have at least two students. However, it is a good opportunity for me because I must speak English all the time, so I can improve my speaking skill gradually. After a week, I realized that this program is very helpful for me and I actually made a right decision. All teachers work hard in helping and correcting student’s mistake. As a result, my speaking, listening, reading and writing skills improve day by day. I do love this program and I’m pretty sure that after graduating from this program, I will be able to speak, read and write academically.
However, I also met some difficulties. First, even though there are many Asian restaurants, I miss my mom’s dishes so much. To me, her cooking is the best. Second, I always feel homesick whenever I have nothing to do, especially at the weekend. When I feel this way, I really want to go back home. Last but not least, currently I’m waiting to hear a result from graduate schools that I applied. I don’t know whether I will get accepted or not and I’m very nervous. I love UW and I don’t want to move to other states either. I wish I would hear good news from them in couple months ahead.