Hey guys, this month we will be featuring in our Through Foreigner Eyes series, Megan an American girl who used to teach English abroad but now lives as a digital nomad in Cambodia!
Hey Megan, tell us a little bit about yourself, who are you, where are you from and where are you living now?
My name is Megan and I am the blogger behind Into Foreign Lands. I’m 28 years old, originally from Boston, MA, USA. In 2012 I moved to Seoul, South Korea to teach English. After one and a half years in Seoul, I backpacked around Southeast Asia and Nepal on my first big solo travel adventure. It changed my life. I then moved to Peru to help run a small English school/NGO in the Sacred Valley, near Cusco. After 14 months in Peru, I moved to Cambodia to work for an NGO here. I’m currently living in Cambodia, where I just finished a 2000km bike tour around the country. I’m now working full time as a freelance communications specialist and am beginning my life as a digital nomad.
Woow you picked some really exotic places to live, didn’t you!
What brings you to Cambodia?
I first came to Cambodia as a backpacker in February 2014. Even though I only came for two weeks, I loved the country. Then in 2016, when I was looking for my next opportunity, I knew I wanted to work for an NGO in Asia. I found a position with an NGO in Battambang, Cambodia, applied, and a few weeks later I was on a flight!
What were your expectations before arriving in Cambodia?
My expectations before arriving to live here as an expat were very high. I had only happy memories from my time here as a traveller. I also thought that the position with the NGO was my dream job. I pictured my life here being, basically… perfect. Of course, living as an expat full time in a country is VERY different from traveling. I had a lot of obstacles to overcome.
What was your first impression?
My most vivid memory from when I first arrived in Cambodia in 2016 was my shock and terror at the language barrier. I can speak English and Spanish, so living in Peru was quite easy for me. When I arrived in Cambodia, suddenly I couldn’t understand anyone! I didn’t know how to shop in the market, I didn’t know how to ask for simple things like directions, I was totally lost!
That and it was incredibly hot! April 2016 was one of the hottest recorded months in recent Cambodian history and it was my first month here. Every day was so hot I could barely think, let alone go for walks or focus on work. After that, I figured if I could survive that heat, I could survive anything.
hahah I imagine how crazy it must be to simply move to a country where nobody speaks your language and you don’t speak theirs! But in the end, we always find a way to communicate.
Did you have any cultural shock? What was that?
Other than the language barrier, the biggest culture shock in Cambodia was probably the noise level. Cambodia is a very noisy country. Everything from temples to weddings to people’s house parties play music over loud speakers at incredibly high volumes. Everyone drives motos around with loud engines. Living in Battambang, the second largest city in Cambodia, I found myself craving some peace and quiet.
There it is something that most of people would never imagine! We always picture Cambodia was being a calm and quiet buddhist country!
What’s your favorite historical or cultural spot nearby
The entire city of Battambang, where I live, is being considered for a UNESCO world heritage site designation. There are so many ancient temples, modern temples, art galleries, and colonial buildings. It’s hard to choose just one! My favorite thing to do on the weekend is take a ride through the countryside, soaking up the quiet scenes of rice fields, villages, and intricate Cambodian buddhist temples.
What would you miss the most if you moved away?
The friends that I’ve made here! From Cambodians to ex-pats, I’ve met some the most incredible people here. I’ve surrounded myself with a group of powerful girls who are all intelligent, driven, and just plain cool. I will miss them all when I leave in August.
If you could add anything from US in Cambodia, what would it be?
A tiny pet peeve of mine here in Cambodia is the lack of walkability. Most people own bicycles or motos, so no one in the cities and towns walks anywhere! I wish there were more sidewalks on the streets so that I could safely walk from place to place. I guess that isn’t specifically from the US but its something I wish I could change.
You can find Megan here: