Learning and Living with Another Culture
I am Suon Kimseng. When I was young I always dreamed about learning about other languages and cultures without paying money because my family is poor. I also dreamed about going to other countries. When I was nine years old my first dream came true. Liger existed. Liger had the scholarship for the smart children.
In front of my house. The first year at Liger. We are making the Khmer king 7 out of clay.
Mary, the social worker in Liger, called to my mom and said, “Congratulations your son has passed the test!” At that time I was not at home, I was at school. When I knew that I passed I shouted uncontrollably. My first day at Liger I thought it was like my new life because Liger gave me many things and every opportunity that I wanted for free.
When I came to Liger I said to myself, “I need to learn a lot of English and about other cultures because in Liger they have a lot of foreigners and their culture is different from me.” When I got to Liger I saw lots of different things between my new teacher’s culture and my culture. One thing that was different was the western teacher’s behavior. For example, they eat with the fork, they wear mostly jeans with T-shirts, and the food that they eat is very different from me. For example, my new western teachers liked to eat bread but cambodian people eat mostly rice. I needed to learn all of these things to adapt to living with all of my western teachers. At that time I knew how to speak English just: “what your name” and “how are you today?”
One day to one day I learned more and more English, like how to pronounce the words and listening. I also needed to remember all of my new friend’s names and make more friends. One month later I could speak more English and I recognized my friends very well. My first friend at Liger was Samnang.
One day at the end of the second year my teacher, JoJo, called my name: “Kimseng, Malika, Souyeth and Thiny, can you come here for a second?! I have very good news for all of you. You will go to Singapore next year!!” she said. All of us shouted, “Ya ya!”
Eating breakfast, which is noodles, In the forest at Koh Kong.
when I was in the forest with Jojo,
my western teacher.
The first day of the third year came. I went to Singapore on the third week of August, 2014. When I got to the airport I was so excited. The smell of the cookies and BBQ filled the front of the airport. At that time my mom said, “Good bye! Good luck! Also have fun Kimseng,” with her big grin.
“Wow! That is a very big plane,” I said when I was at the airport and looking at the plane. “No, it is the small plane. The big one can carry about 300 people,” said Max my teacher. “Max! What about this airplane, how many people can it carry?“ “It can carry just about 150-200 people,” he answered.
Waiting for the flight to Singapore!!!
The airplane was very quiet inside. That made me feel surprised because before that I thought that in the plane it is so loud with its machines. My ears popped when the airplane took off the land. The plane started to go higher and higher by going up straight. I looked at the huge, white, foggy clouds. Then it seemed like all the clouds were coming to me.
The foggy cloud!
“Hello every body!!! I am your captain speaking. We have arrived at Singapore!” said the loud sound from the speaker from our captain. I was surprised when I heard that sound because that made me know that I had arrived at Singapore. When I heard that sound I was so excited because at that same period I was looking out of the window. Then I saw the view of Singapore. I also saw the view of Malaysia.
After we landed in Singapore we ask the captain to go in the cockpit of the plane and they said “yes sure”. Then we went in there and ask him some questions. After I went to checked out, I went on a taxi to United World College South East Asia (UWCSEA), which is the school that I would be working with. When I arrived at UWCSEA I used the skills that I had learned when I was at Liger. I knew about western culture so I could adapt to the people at Singapore and while I was there it showed me that Singapore’s culture is not so different from western culture. For example, they both use forks to eat and wear mostly jeans and T-shirts.
“Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!” came the sound from my watch. It was nine p.m. I waited for my host brother’s parents with my host brother. Five minutes later my host brother said, “Hey Kimseng! These are my parents.” I used my English to communicate with my host family. I was a little bit nervous to speak with my host family because I never knew them before, but about five minutes later I knew them, so I was not nervous to speak with them or live with them anymore.
My host family came from India. My host mom had long hair, and was a bit taller than my mom in Cambodia . She was also very friendly like my mom. I stayed with my host family. I ate and went to school with them every day. The last night that I stayed with my host family, we went and had dinner together. We ordered some Mexican food, Indian food and also one pizza . We ate all of that food together. On that night I had a very great time because I did a video call alone with my friends at Liger. I showed them the apartment and how it looked like at night. At that night I gave my host family a gift. That gift was the scarf. They said, “Thanks Kimseng! This is very nice.”
My host family and I went to United World College. “Bye Bye!” I said to my host family. “Bye Bye! Good luck and be safe. I will go to Cambodia one day and then I’ll visit all of you,” my host brother’s mom said. The last day of school ended. Our group that worked together had a huge lunch and dinner together. We had pizza for lunch. Our dinner was chicken and hot dogs. I felt so devastated because we needed to leave each other.
The next day I went to the Science Center for the whole day. On the last day at Singapore I was very excited because I went to Google’s office. Google’s office was interesting for me because it is the famous company that lots of people use. Also, their office is so amazing because they have the place for their staff to relax and to eat. The other two trips on that day were to the Garden by the Bay and Chinatown. I flew back to Cambodia the next day and here is where my story ends.
Garden by the bay. At the Science Center.