I do two things very well: exaggerate and assume. My Cambodian Study-Service Term has not been spared from either bad habit.1. “I’ll probably get sick of rice.”
False. You’ve never been sick of rice, although you eat it two to three times daily. It is comforting. It is a necessary staple. You will order rice even when you can choose something else.
2. “SST is like 24/7 embarrassment.”
False. You are too ignorant of everything around you to even worry about embarrassment. You’re awkward and scrub your laundry wrong – so what? At least you make people laugh.
3. “I’m not sure if I’ll learn much about these other Goshen kids.”
False. You will make close companions completely by accident. You will wonder how you were never friends before. You will kick yourself for fearing them on campus. You will miss them when study ends and rejoice during service visits.
4. “I doubt I’ll interact with many monks.”
False. You will become friends. You teach them how to play guitar, they teach you how to say “fork.” Together, you visit watermelon fields and laugh at videos of babies and puppies.
5. “I bet that razor blade is for sharpening pencils.”
False. It is for your eyebrows. Now you are missing half of each eyebrow. Lesson learned, Khmer beautician. Lesson learned.
6. “I will most certainly not (1) get lost in a dark city, (2) eat congealed blood, (3) be charged at by a cow, (4) dance Gangam Style in public, (5) night-swim in the Gulf of Thailand or (6) eat Hershey’s and listen to Rihanna on a mountaintop.”
False. You will do all of these things and survive.
7. “Service will feel really slow.”
False. Some days drag but most breeze by. One minute you’ve stepped into the muggy Phnom Penh airport with visa and passport in tow and the next, you’re furiously scribbling your Record article onto graph paper by flashlight because the Vietnamese electricity hasn’t made it to your house yet.
The only proper assumption I’ve made since January is this: God prepared me for this place and waited for me here.
Lauren Treiber is a junior PJCS (???) major. She is currently on Study-Service term in Cambodia.