Jesse Gross ’22
When I first opened my “Jan” acceptance letter I didn’t know what to expect from the opportunity or realize the privilege I was given. From the beginning I knew I wanted to spend the semester exploring new places and cultures. I chose to spend my fall in Cambodia through the School for Field Studies. During my time in Cambodia I had the opportunity to conduct environmental science- and field research-based work with a small cohort of students and faculty.
After two days of connecting flights from my home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Siem Reap, Cambodia, I lived, studied, and explored the city and surrounding areas with my sixteen classmates for the following fifteen weeks. We spoke Khmer in the markets, snatched lemon-lime flavored ants off the trees, looked on in awe at migrations of birds bigger than I had ever seen before, and tried to stay afloat as we splashed under waterfalls. We learned to climb trees and slice coconuts, cooked traditional Khmer cuisine, and fostered friendships with neighbors, children, and local university students.
We did not remain in Siem Reap for the entirety of the trip. For one month, we traveled to the northern and southern parts of Cambodia and into Vietnam to continue developing our field research techniques. In the closing weeks of the program, we performed our own research in the mountainous region of Mondulkiri, through which I was acknowledged by a professional entomologist for my participation in the capture of a rare and unstudied species of insect.
Reflecting on my time in Cambodia, it was a tremendous and challenging semester that left me beyond exhausted, yet totally in awe of what the world has to offer. Now that I’m at Hamilton, I firmly believe that my “Jan” experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I could not imagine starting my time at Hamilton any differently.