During my last semester I had a tentative plan to go somewhere, probably Japan since I speak Japanese. To put it euphemistically, this turned out to not be a good year to go to Japan (AND I HOPE THAT WILL SOON NO LONGER BE THE CASE).
Instead, going off of a suggestion from a friend, I started looking for other volunteer opportunities in East Asia. Why East Asia? No particular reason, but I’m more familiar with the languages and the cultures, and I had to limit my search somehow.
In any case, the point was not to go to a specific place or be a tourist but more to get out of America. I’ve lived in the US my entire life—though I have been a tourist before in Japan, Canada, and a few European nations—and I want to see what it’s like to live in another culture and another country. I was looking for a program that clicked…and I found one.
In about a month, I will be flying to Cambodia to teach English under a program run by International Volunteer HQ. I will be staying in for five months (meaning I’ll be back in February), based on the advice of another friend (an international student), who pointed out that it can definitely take more than a month to become acclimated to a place and really be living there.1 I’ve asked to be placed in a homestay, which I think will be a better inundation in the culture than a “guest house”.
I don’t think I know anyone from Cambodia. I don’t speak Khmer, though I’m trying to learn numbers and common phrases before I go. The script is similar to Thai, not Chinese, so I’m pretty screwed there. But…
…that’s kinda the point. It’s an adventure, it’s a new experience. It has pretty much nothing to do with computers.
Speaking of computers, I have no idea what my internet connectivity will be like…the house might have internet, or I might have to go to an internet café to get online. But I’ll try to post to this blog at least once a month, which I know is a fairly weak promise but it’s something. You can follow my experiences there in the Cambodia category on this blog.
See you in February!
P.S. At the same time, while all this is going on, my family is moving to the east coast. So there has also been much sorting, packing, and recycling activity around the house. It’s probably a good thing I’m not working this summer.
Meanwhile, right now I’m getting lots of shots. There is plenty to do to prepare for a months-long trip, and getting immunized is probably one of the most important…and one of the most uncomfortable. But one of my vaccinations came in pill form: for typhoid immunity, you swallow a weakened form of the virus every other day for a week. The pills had to be kept refrigerated and came in this awesome bag.
If you think about it, vaccination is weird.
For those whose minds don’t grasp raw numbers very well, like mine, five months is a semester and then some. ↩︎