留学生インタビュー

Since early childhood, Peng dreamed of becoming an engineer. After finishing senior high school, he decided to apply for a scholarship to study abroad in order to further his education. Among the programs offered by the countries he was interested in, there was only one available for high school graduates: that offered by the Japanese government. Peng says his decision to come to Japan was reinforced by his realization of Japan's technological prowess. "I had a Japanese motorbike, which was of a much higher quality than that of other countries." He was also influenced by the fact that a former student who'd studied science at a Japanese university in 1996 had returned to Cambodia to achieve great success.

He was, of course, apprehensive about the language. "With English and French, you only have to worry about the alphabet. But with Japanese, you have kanji, hiragana and katakana. So the prospect of having to master such a complex language was quite daunting. Still, I was encouraged by the fact that so many others had succeeded."

At first, Peng was hoping to enter university. But once he learned how difficult it was to get into a science-oriented university―only 3.4 successful candidates in 10 years as opposed to 5.6 for the humanities―he decided to apply for a technical college because there was a better chance of passing the entrance exam. He says he appreciated how his parents, once they realized how few successful applicants there were, allowed him to study without putting too much pressure on him. They were really delighted when he managed to pass the test, says Peng with a grin. His success was the result of many years of hard work. The second of three siblings, Peng left home when he was 15 to go to high school in Phnom Penh.

Looking back upon his decision to enter a technical college, he says that although it meant having to put in an extra year before graduation it allowed him that much more time to study. He adds that he appreciated the opportunity of being able to use the kind of expensive laboratory equipment that he had only read about in Cambodia.

Compared to universities, the curriculum offered at technical colleges is much more oriented towards acquiring technological skills, with emphasis on experiments and laboratory work. This, apparently, is one of the major reasons why Peng is happy with his decision to enter a technical college. The fifth and final year is dedicated to experiments and to preparing a thesis. Peng has managed to submit his graduation thesis and is awaiting graduation. Some university textbooks are in English, but the textbooks used at technical college are all in Japanese, which made life very difficult for him. But Peng, who believes that life is full of difficulties that need to be conquered in order to go on, has managed to overcome this hurdle as well.

Finally, we asked him to reflect upon his decision to come to Japan to study. Peng says that his parents were quite relieved to hear that he would be studying in Japan because they knew that it was a safe and clean country. They were delighted that he would be able to receive a high level of education, which would lead to a good job. He says that part of the information he had on Japan was gleaned from the news on TV; for example, coverage of Japanese official assistance projects in Cambodia and of the 40 Japanese volunteer groups that were helping to support the poor in Cambodia through various activities. However, he says, it was only after coming to Japan and making Japanese friends that he was able to appreciate the diligence and earnest nature of the Japanese people, which he believes is the reason behind Japan's development. He adds that winning the scholarship enabled him to live on his own for the first time without any financial support from his parents. So he's really glad that he decided to study in Japan.

Uploaded on 26th March 2010