Friday, May 23, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Cambodia

I have started to think about what I have accomplished and experienced in the past 6 months and the people I have met along the way. What an amazing journey it has been for me!  Today is my last day at work and tomorrow is my last day in Cambodia.

I'd like to introduce you to some of the amazing people that helped shape my time in Cambodia. They enhanced my journey by sharing their stories and personalities with me. They turned what might have been awful experiences into a meaningful memory. They inspired me to grow and showed me how much more there is to learn in this world.


Anjana is from Nepal but currently living in the United States. She is one of the kindest people I know. I met her on my first day at work and knowing I didn’t have a place of my own yet, without hesitation she allowed me to stay with her until I could find an apartment. It was wonderful to discover Phnom Penh together during her last few weeks here. I am glad I was able to show her another side of the city.


Jenny was born in Sri Lanka and raised in Germany. She was my first ever roommate. I loved coming home to her everyday because it was always so much fun chatting with her about our work and the cultural differences we faced every day. She became my family.


Nikunj is also from Nepal but has lived all over the world and I am many envious of her many passport stamps. We met through Anjana and bonded quickly over our long distance relationships and love for travel. She recently moved back to Nepal but had been living in Cambodia for one year while working for an asset management firm. It was lovely to meet a smart young married woman pursuing her career while also maintaining a long distance relationship with her husband.


Jessica is a young and motivated Australian. She is my neighbor at work and makes me laugh every day. She is really passionate about international development and loves food. You hear her say things like, “I can’t be bothered being hungry.” I mean how could you not love her? She also asks a lot of meaningful questions that most 23 year olds don’t ask. She is going places.


Ra is a recent Cambodian college graduate. Jessica, Ra and I spend a lot of our downtime at work chatting about local affairs.  He has also served as a cultural guide for us, always explaining local customs and traditions.  I have great hopes for Ra because of how dedicated he is to Cambodia. He genuinely wants to change the country for the better and I know he will.

I will miss them and my life here but having said that I am ready to start the next chapter. I feel so lucky to have seen all that I have seen and felt all that I have felt. When I look back to my first week, I remember feeling anxious, depressed and confused. I am now leaving feeling hopeful, excited and grateful.

This experience has allowed me:
  1. To be comfortable with truly being alone. Friends and family are always available but sometimes the time difference requires you to face challenges and emotions alone and that has been an extraordinary experience.
  2. To be able more comfortable with, and even look forward to, spontaneity and happenstance.  As someone who loves lists, I think about planning ahead but I have learned that the future can't always be prepared for. You have to be able to go with the flow and the rhythm of those around you.
  3. To be fiscally responsible. Writing down my daily expenses has really allowed me to see how little is needed to be happy and healthy
  4. To learn so much about Southeast Asia. I had never experienced this part of the world before, and everyday here was an education. I will always remember its beauty and keep for it a special place in my heart.
  5. To put myself out there. It is so easy to stay within your comfort zone but it is eye opening when you step out of it. You learn that a smile and hello go a long way.
I hope I remember these lessons once I am home because they have really allowed me to appreciate life for what it is and how to make the most of it.

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