Every year, many Cambodians get the privilege of getting the Erasmus+ Scholarship from the European Union. The programme aims to support education, training, youth and sports. Many Cambodians have become successful after they completed the programme.
Take Chhun Sophea as a proof. Now 33, she teaches Information Technology at the Information Technology of Cambodia. Sophea was once an awardee of Erasmus+ where she did not just become a scholar, but has worked there as well.
In order for one to obtain the scholarship, a good academic score and mastery in the English language is needed.
“When I saw one of my seniors went abroad, I wanted to go as well. But I knew I can’t afford to go there because I have no money to pay for my education. I thought that the only way for me to go to Europe is to apply for a scholarship,” said Sophea.
She studied real hard to excel academically. And she succeeded. She got the Erasmus+ Scholarship for her Master’s degree in 2007. She then studied in Thailand a year after before going to France for another year of academic endeavour.
“After I came back from France, I worked for a while in Cambodia. I then applied to again to study a three-year doctorate degree from 2012 to 2015. When I went abroad, I saw something there that seemed very different from Cambodia. Europe is very modern and developed. It made me think that my country should be like that, too.”
She further shared that her classmates – who all come from different countries – talked about the differences in their countries’ lifestyles and cultures.
“Even after we finished the programme, we remained friends. We were still connected with each other, even with our professors.
Having been to different countries, Sophea believes that experiencing how it’s like to be in a foreign country to pursue your educational goals is a rewarding experience that many Cambodians should strive hard to attain.
In addition, it will also help students become more responsible and independent as they don’t have their families to help them cope in their new environment.
“When students who study abroad come back to Cambodia, the way they think and the way they act change. They become more independent because they were forced to grow up because they don’t have their friends and families with them all the time. They had to live their own lives and make their own decisions. They were certainly on their own in that foreign land. But that’s the whole point of the experience,” Sophea concluded.