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#9 Interview of Cambodian Brothers in SUNY KoreaHistory makersㅣ2020-12-16 17:27
The two brothers Norak Rin and Ratanak Rin came to SUNY Korea all the way from Cambodia for the opportunity of receiving American education in Korea. Watch the video to hear more about their thoughts and experiences! (link below)
1. Can you briefly introduce yourself?
Norak: Hello, my name is Norak Rin. I am an international student from Cambodia. I am currently a master’s student doing a BE & MS accelerated program at SUNY Korea with a major in Mechanical Engineering. I am going to graduate this December 2020.
Ratanak: My name is Ratanak Rin. I come from Phnom Penh city, Cambodia and I graduated from Bak Touk high school in Phnom Penh city as well. Currently, I am a freshman at SUNY Korea, studying Computer Science. I came to SUNY Korea during the Spring 2020 semester, so this is my second semester as a freshman.
2. What made you come to Korea? / What made you decide to study at SUNY Korea?
Norak: Studying abroad for tertiary education was always my ambition during my time at high school. My reason to study abroad is not only about the education that I want to pursue, but also the living experiences and responsibilities that would come along my way to make me mature in a better way. When I heard about SUNY Korea, it was difficult to ignore the potentials and opportunities that this university could offer. In addition to obtaining an American education, coming to this University would also allow me to experience my life in two different countries (Korea and the US). SUNY Korea was still comparatively a small and new campus. However, this condition would just make the university even more attentive to the quality and well-being of the students. I could not think of any other reason to not come to this University and I am glad I made that decision.
Ratanak: I decided to study at SUNY Korea because it is the first American university in Korea which consists of selected degree programs of Stony Brook University as well as the degree granted from Stony Brook University. More importantly, SUNY Korea provides a unique opportunity for every student to study in both Korea and in New York; therefore, I can experience studying at two different and fascinating places of the world during my university life as an undergrad.
3. Is there any reason why you recommended SUNY Korea to your brother? What do you like about SUNY Korea?
Norak: I did recommend SUNY Korea to my brother. There are two main reasons for that recommendation. The first one is my witnessing of the quality and decent conditions of the university. The location, the campus community, and, especially, the quality of the education are all within my expectation. I would love to have my brother receiving these experiences and quality of education as I do. The second reason is the reputation of the Computer Science program of Stony Brook University. As my brother just finished his high school education and has been interested in studying Computer Science, this would be a perfect opportunity for him as well.
Ratanak: What I really like about SUNY Korea is that the school community is very friendly, especially the Computer Science department. Every professor and student here seems really helpful; we help each other to overcome any obstacle that we have faced during our academic life here. There’s even a tutoring program provided by the university for free to help students with difficulties in their studies. Of course, I also like the school environment here: as most of us come from different parts of the world, we share each of our cultures with each other, so that we can learn new things about each other.
4. What are some good things about going to the same university with your brother? Are there any difficulties?
Norak: There are many good things. First, it is good to be with one of your family members when you are far away from home. Whether it is about taking care of one another or having a discussion/consultation or even just hanging out, it is always good to do it with someone who is really close to you, especially for my brother in this case, as this is his first time being away from our parents. Another good thing is about how I can share my experiences studying here with him. Although we are doing different majors, I still can guide and explain to him clearly about how everything works in this University and in this country, be it about the course work or even how to get around in the city. So far, I have not encountered any difficulties at all.
Ratanak: Going to the same university as my brother is like having a compass in the middle of the thick forest, which means that I will be able to know which direction I should go to and where I should not go. He tries his best to guide me toward my goals, yet that does not mean he allows me to rely on him all the time. Most of the time I need to get out of my own comfort zone and make decisions on my own.
5. Do you live with your brother? If so, what are some good things about living with your brother?
Norak: We both live on campus. I live in dormitory B while he lives in dormitory A. Nevertheless, we spend time cooking together almost every evening. Sometimes, we also go to eat out together. As I mentioned earlier, it is good to be with a member of your family and, in this case, it makes my parents happier and less concerned about my brother’s well-being as I am still here and can guide/take care of him during his first year.
Ratanak: We both live on campus, but in different buildings; in fact, I live in dormitory A, whereas my brother lives in dormitory B. However, I think that could be considered as living together since we spend almost all the time cooking food together and going out together. As I mentioned before, living with him is like having a guide. During my first semester here, since it was my first time studying abroad, everything seemed so new to me. He taught me how to cook, how to go to the bank, and guided me around the campus. It was indeed a great moment to experience at least once in a lifetime if possible. Hahaha…
6. Do you two help each other when you study? How do you help each other?
Norak: We would offer as much help as we can to each other. I give him tips on some of the courses that he is taking that I had taken. For the courses that I did not take, I give him advice on where to go for help as well as resources that he can check.
Ratanak: Since we study different majors, we do not spend much time together when studying. I study on my own and he works on his own as well. However, he did help me consider which course I should take during each semester
7. What do you like to do in your free time?
Norak: I spend my free time watching videos related to technology and history. I am also quite interested in science, basically, the study of the universe. I normally listen to podcasts related to that topic before I sleep. I also do sports frequently. Almost every weekend, I go to play soccer or, at least, once a week, I play ping pong with friends. I also enjoy hanging out with my lab mates from time to time.
Ratanak: During the weekend I spend 2 to 3 hours playing soccer with other students here. I also spend so much time chatting with my family and friends back in my country. Recently, I have taken up table tennis as my new hobby and play it with my brother and his friends.
8. Is there any special incident in class or general life in SUNY Korea that you remember?
Norak: There were several times during my undergraduate study that I and my group members had to stay until late at night to finish our course projects. At one point we were stuck, and there was nothing left for us to do but to order food and eat together before we reattempted to finish the work. It was quite exhausting but, at the same time, very memorable to me. I also remember one time when all international students cooked their national cuisine(s) together to serve the university’s president, some professors, the staff, as well as the students ourselves. I participated in that event and I remember it clearly because that was my very first time that I learned to cook, and it was edible. There were also some other experiences that are still in my fond memory such as the ski trip organized by the Korean Culture Institute, my participation as an orientation leader during the New Students Welcoming Week of Spring 2017, my first time being a residential assistant in Spring 2019, and many more.
Ratanak: I think it was when I first discovered that I got accepted for the work study at IGC Library. I did not think I would get accepted to work as a work study student there. I was so excited about that because I got to know and work with new people at the library.
9. What are your future goals or dream?
Norak: My intermediate goal is to earn my master’s degree and go on to pursue a PhD-level education right away. My long-term goal is to be a researcher/inventor. I have always highly valued the people who contribute to science and technology and use the technologies inventing something new and convenient for other people as well as solving the world problems. I am determined to produce the same worthwhile contribution and I hope it will happen.
Ratanak: After graduating from the university, I would like to continue my academic journey pursuing a graduate degree, maybe in the United States if possible. In the further future, I would like to become a software engineer at one of the giant tech companies like Microsoft, Google, or Amazon. It is not an easy thing to do but I will try my best to make it happen.
10. Are there any difficulties in living here? Do you like the weather in Korea?
Norak: Living in Korea does not give me any serious difficulty. Apart from the language barrier and being away from my parents and the people back home, I find my life here pretty good. I enjoy living in the school where I can focus on what I need to do. I made many good friends and we get along quite well. The tranquil and modern atmosphere in Songdo in general gives me a pleasant feeling and I know I am going to miss my life in this city later when I leave Korea. For the weather in Korea, it is just different from the weather in Cambodia. From December to February, the cold weather was rough for me at first. However, as time passed, I adjusted myself pretty well and it is okay for me now.
Ratanak: Actually, I do not find the weather in Korea difficult to endure. In fact, I really enjoy the weather here in Korea, especially during Spring and Fall. However, I found it difficult to communicate outside the school campus, as I do not speak Korean but I have started learning Korean now and I hope I will be able to communicate with the local people fluently and travel to every part of Korea, of course after the Coronavirus pandemic.
11. What do you miss about Cambodia? Is there any place you visit or anything you like to do when you miss Cambodia?
Norak: I miss the food in Cambodia. Of course, I also miss my family, relatives, and friends back home, especially during my first year. I video call them every weekend to see how they are doing. I also went back and stayed in Cambodia during some of the summer/winter vacations.
Ratanak: Mostly, I miss my family and friends in Cambodia, especially my mom. I also miss how we used to spend our time together in my country. When I miss them, I call them and spend time chatting with them, asking how they are doing, something like that.
12. How would you like to introduce SUNY Korea to your friends and family in Cambodia?
Norak: SUNY Korea is a place I have called home for these 4 years. It has given me an education, responsibilities, and a variety of meaningful experiences. SUNY Korea is a decent place which helped me grow, and I am grateful for that. I would recommend SUNY Korea to people I know back home to come and experience this great University. In fact, I even recommended it to my brother.
Ratanak: I would say SUNY Korea is a great place for any student who has deep passion for learning, would like to get out of their comfort zone and come overseas. I would recommend all Cambodian students who always wanted to study abroad like what I am doing right now to work as hard as possible during their high school years and apply to SUNY Korea after graduating high school. Here at SUNY Korea, we are History Makers.
Editor: Judy Lim (SUNY Korea ER / email@example.com)