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  • Sreng


In late 2018, Sreng was offered a full scholarship at Temple University in Philadelphia, USA!!! He is studying Management Information Systems (MIS). To think that this opportunity was even possible is just incredible and to have a student from CRST go over and get this life changing experience is mind blowing.

Sreng moved to Philadelphia in January this year and has been settling in to a new routine, in a new country, with new friends and the report below is from Sreng explaining his first 2 months of this BIG ADVENTURE


Hi everyone!!! I have been receiving updates almost every day from Rany about things happening in Cambodia. Thanks to Steve Jobs and some other great people who invented the Internet, even with 14,163 km between us, I can still know what happening back home!!!! Super Great!!!

So two months just flied away, I have been doing great so far. The areas I want to share with you – Food, climate, and school.

Food - Like Yeat said, this is an international school, so there are so many Asian students here which make it easy for me to look for Asian food. There are some Vietnamese and Thai food near the Campus. There is also some American food, but I only tried them once so far. I prefer something more sweet and with rice.. 😊

In my room, I have a kitchen that I can learn to do my own cooking. Literally, everything was new to me – the electronic cooker, the washing machine, microwave, sink, food-waste disposal, and refrigerator. I am lucky to have a roommate from China that helps me learn this such things. I asked him a lot of questions since I moved in. He is only 19 years old, but he has full of experiences with this. I usually go to a Grocery store shopping that will be enough for the whole week (or 5 – 7 days). Since I did not know much cooking, I bought more meat than vegetable. To substitute vegetable, I have fruits in my fridge, so when I finish eating meat with rice and little bit vegetable, I can have some apples, banana, or oranges.

I now learn to cook some more food. Near the kitchen there is a smoke detector. With lack of cooking experiences, the smoke detector went off so many times because I burnt my meat…. 😊There were two layers of the smoke detectors. The first layer is when the burn is not that serious, so it only goes off in my room, which I can turn off. Another layer is when it is more serious and the entire smoke/fire detectors go off and everyone in the building (more than a hundred students) has to evacuate (since I moved in, there were three times that I had to run down the stairs outside because someone burnt their hot-dog!!!). I was lucky that I only burnt my meat slightly, so I could turn the detector off in my room. Because I can cook everything by myself, I do not miss Cambodian food so much. Of course, still miss but not that much.

Climate – Oh God!!! It has been super cold!!! There were a few days in January that the weather went down to “-14”. Most of the days, the weather had been 0 – 5 c. Steve and Liz, since the very first morning, took me to the cloth stores to buy some winder clothes and some clothes for my schools. I fill my closet with all the clothes that can make me feel warm both outside and inside, so I do not have to worry about the weather so much. In my room and my school, there are heating machines that heat me up. Inside the house, even with heating machine, I usually wear two layers of my shirts, my socks, and of course a layer of my pants. Because outside is too cold, there are not many people walking around or playing sports yet. However, my friend told me that when the weather get warmer, in summer, there will be more people coming out and everything will look great.

13th Jan, 2019 was the first time in life for me to see snow!!!! I was sitting next to my window at about 3:00am (waking up early due to jet lag) looking outside watching the snow falling. In the morning, I went outside and touch snow and walk on the snow the first time!!! Cool!!!! Wow, that was super beautiful. Everything was covered by snow and I could smell the cold air. That was a fantastic feeling!!! Since that was Sunday, I did not have class, so I was just walking outside for about 30mns and came back. What a great experience.The weather now started to be warmer (0 - 15c) and I could not wait for the summer to come in the next one or two months. The time where I can wear less clothes and sit under the tree and study!!! 😊 reminded me of Steve Jobs when he lied under the tree and think of his future!!!! 😊 Inspiring!!!!

School – let’s put the fun aside and be serious!!!! I had to admit that school was not that easy.

First Strategies: Before I came, I did some research about life of a student in the United States to learn about school systems and what strategies I could use to get great scores in my class. Below “B” is not acceptable for me – never acceptable. So before coming to the United States, I thought my strategies were that – I had to study before classes a lot, asking questions in classes, and review lessons after classes. The first day at class was Great – the classes were Management Information System, American Economy, and Statistic and Business Application. They were the courses I was familiar with, and I already studied beforehand.I expected that the other two classes (Ethic and English) on the forth day at school would be the same, and the teachers would explain more in classes. However, things did not come as plan. I did read before classes, took notes, and watched videos about the lesson. However, in classes, the professors assumed that the students already read the materials, so he went fast and asked a lot of questions to the classes. I was shocked and could not understand the lessons well!!! I did not catch what the teachers were saying because they were speaking fast. And when they asked the students questions, it was worse, the students spoke with little voice and all the words were like one word – I understood zero word the students said. Wow!!! I lost confidence and felt scared. I did not understand the lessons, did not dare to ask questions, was very embarrassed when everyone laughed, and I did not even understand the joke!!!! I came back to my room feeling that I had to do something about it. I know the techniques the teachers used were the best studying techniques implement. The classes were engaging and encouraging students to work harder before class to be a part of the community (class discussion). I could not change them but I had to look for what I could do to get myself adapted to the techniques. I started to sit down and thought of what techniques I should be doing.

Second Strategies: So, at the weekend, I started to develop a new strategy. I started to prepare my studying schedule that focus more on the other two courses I found difficult.To be closer to the teacher to let her know that I was new and might want helps a lot, I decided to be a leader of a group discussion in English class for the whole semester – I now communicate with the teacher every now and then. I started to do all the homework at least a week before hand to show her the commitment I have and gain more recognition in classes and started to be involved. I started to ask questions and give in thoughts in classes. She started to know me better, and I can start to understand much better in class. I started to gain more confidence. I just did my in-class quiz Thursday this week. I feel confident that I did well and expected for the full or closer to the full marks. For Business Ethic class, I believe that first I have to gain more relationship with the teacher to allow me to ask questions with confidence. So just after class in my second week, I went to the teacher and explained to him that I found that difficult when reading book and was wondering if I can ask him some questions – at the same time, I told him that I was new in town and find everything challenging. He told me to email him any questions I have. He started to remember me, so I email him questions. He also said that the best to learn is to read the book, then close the book, and summarize what I have just read. We had emails back and forth many times – I read the book a lot more and tried to summarize what I have read, then sent to him for some advice. What surprised me the most, he emails me a few days before the in-class exams asking if I have any questions. I know now that we were closer, and I started to feel confidence answering questions in class, and he started to call me in class to give thoughts. I am so happy. I just took my first in-class exam last week. And I got 92.5%. I never expected that I would get that result taking into account that the first class, I was like a cow listening to music – understanding nothing he said!!!! Such a very great improvement. To help me better understand the students and school system, I joined two organizations. One is called “Peer to Peer Support” which helps me understands all the services the school provides and make some new friends. This program will last for 14 weeks. I made some new friends a long the way..!!! Now I am not that lonely again!!!! 😊 Also, I had a chance to ask my friends about some studying techniques. One of them gave me the notes they had when they studied in the Ethic class – wow!!! That was super helpful!!!! I read the note trying to understand the way the teacher would teach in class. The second organization I joined is called “Association of Information System”. This organization is created to allow the MIS Major students earning some Professional Achievement Point to graduate. In this organization, I can join many workshops with hundreds of students in the same major. I can started to create some connections while learning new things. This was also a part of helping me expand my confidence and start to learn to adapt myself to the English speaking environment. Great!!!!!!

Third Strategies: So now I have much better understanding of the classes and how to involve in class; however, the exam was not as simple as I thoughts. Sometimes I think I understand what the teacher says, but I did not realize that what I understand was not what the teacher says!!!! Worse, I found that out during the exam. Big trouble!!!! One of the classes, I thought was easy, was not easy!!!! The class is called Management Information System 2101. This class is my major class. I thought I understood everything the teacher says in class but in the exam, it turned out that I made 7 mistakes out of 25!!!! 72% wow!!! What a failure!!!! In the class, the teacher went over the exam and that was when I realized that I made mistakes in understand two things wrong – what I understood about the material and the questions in the exam itself. I felt like a failure, so I started to step back and see what I was wrong about. It turned out to me that I was over confident with the course, and I should have spent more time on that.

So now I added this to the two difficult courses I am having!!!!! To help me better with this course, I now develop a schedule after class to go to library and spend 4 hours to review what I have learn, searching some examples, and do all the homework. I find that this is quite fun and helpful. I started to think of how I can use for the benefits of the NGO!!!!

1. English – I have done all the homework, participate all the classes – I finished my in-class quiz last week and still wait for the results. (no result reveal yet)

2. Ethic Class – 92.5% for the In-Class example – so far, I only lose 1.5% of my entire score (100%).

3. MIS 2101 – since the average in the first in-class exam was 68%, the professor give us 4% more as the curved score, so I have 76%. Therefore, I lost only about 4.2% of my entire score (100%.

4. American Economy – I did all my homework with full marks and got 24/25 for my first Online-Quiz. Therefore, I lost only 0.65% of my entire score (100%).

5. Statistic and Business Application – I did all my homework, quizzes, in-classes quizzes and exams with full marks. Therefore, I lost zero percent (0%) of my entire score (100%).

That’s it!!!! It is quite long for the first two months. There are more things to write, but I shall conclude it here!!!!!

Nowadays, I also start to feel homesick and lonely!!!! But I believe times will solve this and I will eventually feel normal!!! I am lucky because Steve and Liz are here to comfort me. I usually have lunch with Steve once every two weeks – which is great. He always makes me feel like home!!!! I now have weekly calling with Aviv. He always calls to ask and encourage me to be more challenging. He makes me feel special and always wants to do more!!!!! I would feel so much lonely without Aviv, Steve and Rany!!!!! They are my pushing forces!!! Thank you!!!!Looking forward to sharing with you again in the next two months about my final score results and if there is anything changes!!!!!Best to you all as always!!!!

Sreng SOKH

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