Every-Day-Life in Cambodia

Dear readers…I’m so sorry for my long absence. First of all the last month were kinda stressful and many things needed to be sorted out and second nothing really spectacular happened. It’s “just” my every day life here in Phnom Penh.

06:00am – wake up time
As I’m not a morning person at all that’s my every day challenge! I snooze one time but around 6:15am I really need to get up. Latest with the cold shower I’m awake πŸ™‚ The temperature of the water depends on the outside temperature…the more it rains and the chillier it gets outside the colder the water is. It might sound a bit strange but generally I enjoy the refreshing cold showers as usually it’s really hot outside.

06:30am – breakfast
My mum always told me – never leave the house without breakfast so that’s what am I doing next. I enjoy the relaxed time in the morning eat some bread and cheese (the german way πŸ™‚ ) and listen to the sounds from outside. As the Cambodians are early birds the whole neighbourhood is awake already. They start washing their cars, listen to the radio and the first people already leave with their motorbikes to work while I’m enjoying the last quiet minutes before the busy life starts. Latest when I hear the cambodian national anthem I have to go, that’s point

07:00am – my journey to work
As my school is around BKK1-area it takes me about 20-45mins to get there. It’s actually just a 7km drive but the traffic in Phnom Penh by that time is a bit special as everyone starts to drive to work around that time. The earlier I leave the house the easier and faster it is. My personal TukTuk driver Sophea waits for me every morning infront of my house to pick me an drive me safely through the crazyness of the Phnom Penh rush hour to my school.

07:20am – at school
Usually around that time I arrive at CIA PP international school and the students welcome me with a friendly “Good morning Teacher Kate” and a biiiiig hug…that actually makes my day already. It’s unbelievable how much love these children show every single day. The first 20-40mins I spend in my classroom preparing my first lesson or the homework and the second time I enjoy the quietness of the morning!

08:00am – morning assembly
All teachers and students start the day together…at 8am the school bell rings and the students line up in our outside playground. The principal welcomes them to school. On Mondays we have the flag ceremony as well which means two students raise the Cambodian flag and we listen to the national anthem. Afterwards class by class goes upstairs to their classroom.

08:15-11:30am – in classroom
During the morning I’m teaching 18 children, 4-6years old, about English (Phonics), Numbers, Social Studies and Science. In between they have 30mins breaktime. Beside of that they have one time per week PE (physical education) and two times they go for swimming. We have a garden in school and teach about farming, plants and life cycle and we have a library to read with the kids or once in a while watch an educational movie. We teach them about good behaviour, which might be the biggest challenge in my job, respect and rules. I’m working together with 2 teaching assistants and they make my life a lot easier…thanks to Vichheka and Maly for that!

11:30-12:30pm – lunch break
Normally I’m staying in school during my lunch break and eat in our Canteen. The food is good and cheap, 1,25$ for rice, stir fry and a big bowl of soup πŸ™‚ Once in a while when I feel like having western food I’m going out to one of the coffee shops in the surroundings or we oder fat boys ( similar to subway) sandwiches to school.

12:30pm – prep time
For one hour every day I have now time for preparations, writing lessonplans and weekly reports about my students. Normally I spend this time in my classroom searching online for worksheets or teaching ideas, preparing homework for the next day or the materials I need during class the next day. It’s a quiet hour while the smaller students nap for an hour and the older ones have cool-down time in our library. In case I’m really well prepared already I use the time sometimes to “supervise” the students in the sleeping room…which means I also have a nap for an hour πŸ™‚

1:30-3:30pm – afternoon class
Our full-time students have another 2hrs class in the afternoon. Mostly we do revision of topics we did in the morning. The biggest groupe of my afternoon students was also enrolled to school during the second half of the school year and they all need to catch up. So we use the afternoons to teach them what they missed during the first half year so hopefully they’ll be able to move on to the next level after summer.

3:30-4:15pm – prep time
Another 45mins to sort my classroom, correct homework and get preared for the next day. I just realized when I started this job how much a teacher actually needs for preparations. That’s actually the “hard” work as a teacher. Even if the internet is full of worksheets and materials and you can find tons of good educational movies and websites sometimes it still takes time to find the right things for the age group or the topic you wanna teach. Sometimes I start doing my own worksheets if I can’t find the right things online.

4:15pm – my journey back home
If it’s stressful in the morning to go to work sometimes it’s even worst to go back home. I really praise sometimes the shiftwork I worked in Munich because you don’t have to be on the road while everyone else does the same! The good thing is I don’t need to drive on my own…I just lean back in my TukTuk and Sophea tries his best to avoid the traffic or squeeze us into the small gaps between hundreds of motorbikes, TukTuks and cars. Usually it takes around 30mins till I finally arrive back home but the worst it can take up to an hour.

5:00pm – home sweet home
During the week normally we don’t schedule a big program anymore. In case I coudn’t finish my prep I need to do that once I’m back home but luckily that doesn’t happen really often. One of us cooks something for dinner, we eat together and have a chat about our days. Afterwards I just relax, read and write Emails, facebook-ing,…it’s time to stay in touch with my old friends and live back in Germany.

10:00pm – Good night
As I get up so early every day I normally go to bed around 10pm. I’m not really a late-night-person anymore…I really need a good night sleep to recover for the next day. That’s maybe the good thing without shift working my body has a good rhythm now. In the evening I’m tired and I don’t have problems to fall asleep anymore. Sometimes even during the weekend I wake up in tze early morning but only to check the time and to be happy to turn around again πŸ™‚ Even if I’m not a late night owl anymore I think I’ll never turn into an early bird!










Good bye Sweden

Finally after one year, one month and 5 days I got a letter from the Socialstyrelsen. The loooooong waiting has come to an end even if it’s not the end I expected.

After all this time they now made the decision that my german education in pediatric nursing and pediatric intensive care nursing is not accepted in Sweden. I could write them a statement in between 2 weeks and give them more explanations about my education but I decided not to do that. First of all my life changed so much during the last year that I lost my excitement about working in Sweden a bit plus it wouldn’t have been an easy start for us as a couple there I guess. A lot of pressure on Lawrence to find a Job in Stockholm and learning Swedish the same time he started to learn German.
Second…I’m just too proud of my education and work experience that I start to beg for a job in another country. I feel a bit sorry for the hospital cause they realized that I’m qualified to work there but now it’s in their hands…if they really would like to find qualified pediatric nurses for the neonatal intensive care in Germany they should put more pressure on their gouvernment to change the situation in general and make the hole process easier.

Live goes on and I’m just happy that this waiting has an end now…I say good bye to Sweden and hello to whatever comes next!

I really learned during the last year that you can’t plan your live completely and sometimes you have to make a turn to a new direction to find something way better which you would have never expecteted. If one door closes another one opens….and now I’m just waiting for the next “door” to open…

Kindergarten in Cambodia

First month of working as kindergarten teacher in Phnom Penh is over. It was fun but also a stressful month as my kids had to write Exams and I had to write all their reports…but let’s start from the beginning.

I started to work at CIAPP International School end of May with some class observations and Nikki the previous teacher of my class showed and explained me everything I had to know. From June,4th on I was on my own…kind of, thankfully I had two Teaching Assisstants who could help me out once in a while and make everything way smoother. Thanks at this point to Nhong and Chandy! Because beeing completely alone with 24 three to five year old kids is NOT easy πŸ™‚

All-in-all kindergartening in Cambodia is way different from Germany. And it was really interesting to see what they expect here from these young little kids. While german kids are playing with their friends, sing songs and do crafts are cambodian kids learning the ABC, Vocabularys, Math…in general counting from 1-20 and also writing letters and numbers. Beside of that they learn the basic colours and shapes as well as different sience themes (animals, plant, body parts, …) and in general they learn a new language – English. In between they have classes in sports and swimming and sure they also have playtime every day.

It’s amazing to see that some of the three year olds are really able to write the whole alphabeth on their own. On the other hand I think they lose their childhood really early. From 5 latest 6 years on they start to study full-time. Means half day English and half day Khmer and some of them even go to different schools for that.

After each quarter they write an Exam with 5 Topics (Writing, Numbers, Phonics, ESL and Social Studies) and if the result is below 70% at the end of the school year they have to repeat the class – hard life! They also have homework around three times a week but if they don’t do it nothing happens beside of the fact that they’ll be asked why they didn’t do it.

The kinda strange thing is what some of the parents except from school. In Germany it is normal that a kid once it’s enrolled to kindergarten/school is going there every day (IN TIME)…here in Cambodia -even if they pay really a lot of money as school fee- in the end the kids decide if they are going to kindergarten or not. Some of them just say in the morning “I don’t want to” and that’s enough that the parents keep them at home. On the other hand some parents expect that the kids are learning social skills as well as respect and good behaviour while they at home just spoil them and allow everything. I think I don’t have to explain that this is not working out, at least not all the time. But some of the children really learn to separete between school and home and while they are doing at home whatever they want (even hitting their parents) they are in school well behaved and easy to handle.

Sometimes I just feel bad for some of my kids cause the acting of the parents is a bad influence for their future life. Every kid has to learn to follow rules and to respect adults no matter if it’s the teacher or the parents. It’s one of the problems the whole Khmer Rouge Regime brought up…the most of the grandparents where killed and so there’s no one who could explain how to deal with a child. Plus the most of the parents grew up in poverty and now as they have the money the fullfill their kids every single wish to let them have a better life.

But all in all I really enjoyed the time teaching my class and going to work again.I’m really happy about this experience and I’m looking forward to teach my class next school year in K4 (second year of Kindergarten).

Now I have summer holidays and will enjoy my first trip to africa while some of my colleagues and kiddies are going to summer school. And from end of august on the new school year starts and I’m ready for the new challenge!


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Good bye Sweden – Hello Cambodia

The swedish bureaucracy seems not to work really fast…they try to decide about the legalization of my german nursing education sinceΒ  8 month and the decision ist still not made.

But I decided in between that I’m sick of waiting for them and just sitting around here in Phnom Penh and getting more and more bored. Means I’m not waiting anymore for them instead I’ll settle my life here in Cambodia a bit more. That doesn’t mean Sweden is canceled forever…I still would like to work in Stockholm and improve my knowledge in neonatal intensive care nursing. So if they’ll accept me one day the hospital has to wait for meΒ  till I’m ready to move there. If it is not working out I’m sure I can find another opportunity to improve my nursing skills anywhere else.

My plan right now is to find a job in Phnom Penh. I wrote some applications for nursery teacher positions and am still waiting for their responce. Let’s see how it is going on but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to find a job soon. I’ll stay in Phnom Penh for another year together with my boyfriend and in between we’ll make our decision where we’ll move next. It will be definitely a country in Europe to be closer to my family and friends…maybe Sweden…maybe Germany…let’s see πŸ™‚ and in between I enjoy my life here in Cambodia.

I’ll keep you updated!!


Long time no see…

Hey there…maybe you were wondering if I’m still alive or if my accident was more serious than I told you…but honestly I was just to lazy to write something πŸ™‚

So, what happened during the past weeks?! In the beginning I was just laying around cause I could hardly walk, put my leg up high and stayed in bed most of the time, surfed around the WorldWideWeb, watched movies and read a lot. But after two weeks of doing nothing I was really bored and couldn’t motivate myself to do anything :-/

I was so happy that right that time Micha arrived here in Phnom Penh – so exciting, my first visitor from Germany…and the best thing she brought a (kind of) fresh Brezn (prezel) from Munich with her πŸ™‚

Micha spent two weeks here in Cambodia. Sadly we weren’t able to travel together but we had a great time exploring Phnom Penh. We went to the Kings Palace, walked along Riverside, enjoyed many massages, had a manicure, checked out the different book stores here. We went out for dinner, drinks, … went for shopping at Sorya, Sovanna, Central and Russian market. All in all we had a nice, relaxed and funny time together and I enjoyed hera lot!

The two weeks together were over way too fast…but in between another two friends from Germany are planing to visit me in May/June. It’s unbelievable how many people would like to come around, but I’m happy about everyone who will visit me in the future!

Another funny thing happened one night Micha and me were out for some drinks around Riverside. We walked along the street and passed two guys…on of them turned around looked at me and said in german “we know each other”! I thought “nice try” πŸ™‚ and couldn’t remember him at all. Embarrassingly he was right…we celebrated NewYears 2012 together in Germany on a small hut in the middle of a snow storm in the german alps – isn’t it funny to meet each other again in the middle of a huge crossing in Phnom Penh with all the chaotic traffic around us?! Such a small world πŸ™‚

What really annoys me in between is the job situation…one of my german students canceled in between cause he actually hadn’t enough time to learn between job and MBA. So there are just two of them left, which means I’m working for exactly 3hrs per week and the rest of the time I’m spending with housework or just hanging around. I’m off since my last work day in September 2011 and in between I really look forward to start working again πŸ™‚

7 month of doing sweet nothing is enough I guess…

As I still don’t have a response from Sweden I decided to give them a last chance. So deadline is April,5th…if they don’t get back to me till then Sweden is canceled for now and I’ll stay another year in Cambodia and I really like the idea of staying longer in Phnom Penh!

After our holidays I’ll start searching for a job again middle of April…teaching, nursing, …let’s see what will happen. I’ll keep you posted!

Germany in Cambodia

Long time no see … I know it’s been a while since I wrote my last post but I was quite busy during the last two weeks – not really an excuse but here you are, my next Story about my life in Phnom Penh.

Honestly I was really surpised about how many germans are living in town and especially about how many people would like to learn german here. So it turned out during the last week that I found my first paid job πŸ™‚

First Eva from the Goethe Institut recommended me to Matt, an Aussie guy who would like to learn german cause his girlfriend is german and they wanna travel to Germany soon. Two days after he contacted me I met Anja and Sybille, they are both living in Phnom Penh since a while and both are working as german teachers. Sybille introduced me to Poul he was searching for a privat teacher for his daughter Rebecca and so it turned out that I had two students already. Both of them are on the same level … means zero.

Couple of days later Eva sent me another Mail with the contacts of Pascale, she’s as well searching for a teacher for her daughter. Elfie’s dad is german and she already speaks the language so they just need somebody to keep her level and teach her once a week. Fine, all that happened in one week … I’m teaching five hours per week in total – it’s something I’ve never done in my life but the start was quite easy and I really enjoyed the lessons so far.

The next surprise happened last sunday. At the Meta-House, the german-cambodian-cultural-center, was church service in german. There is a protestant church in Bangkok/Thailand (www.die-bruecke.net) and the priests from there try to offer service in the neighbour countries (Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia) at least once a year which is not much but I was happy to be able to join it. I couldn’t believe how many people joined the service. I guess we were at least 30 people, many young families and a huge groupe of children as well. Beside of the locals there were a group of german politicians and the EED (protestant development service). They just arrived in Phnom Penh and will stay here for a week to visit the different development projects to see the benefits for cambodia and their citizens.

After church service they offered lunch and so I met a bunch of local germans … I’m invited to a German Book Club – they read a book every month and meet end of it to talk about it) and to a German lanuage meet-up called “Wir sprechen deutsch”.

Welcome to Germany in Cambodia πŸ™‚

















Crazy life

WOW … what a crazy week it’s unbelievable how much did happen during the past couple of days. In my last post my “problem” was that I felt a bit stucked and didn’t know my next step and then it turns out that I just need some time and patience and everything will be good πŸ™‚

But let’s start from the beginning … on monday morning I got an E-Mail from the Puthisastra University if it’s possible to come around for an Interview on Tuesday morning … if it’s possible? Hmmm, let’s think about it …

So I went there on Tuesday and had an interview with the director of the Uni and of the Faculty for health and sience. They wanna start a new education for nurses with an international standard and wanna build up an international team to support them – that sounds amazing, a great opprtunity and a challange as well. And beside of that I could start to teach english there as some of the students are not fluent in it yet and some day maybe I also can teach nursing skills. Let’s see how that project/job goes on …

Beside of that I had an interview with Cornelia Grade at the GIZ … and they support a great project here in Cambodia and are working together with different hospitals in some provinces. I could work as a practical teacher at one of the hopitals and support and teach the students in their internships, do practical teaching in the hospital as well as build up and develop the nursing education here in Cambodia. Well but there are two “problems” … first if I would start working for them I need to move away from Phnom Penh cause all the hospitals are quite far away from the capital. Means I would have a distance-weekend-relationship which I don’t really wanna have. And the second point, they don’t have a vacant position right now and that won’t change for at least half a year. Which is not too bad cause I don’t need to make a decesion. So I sended my CV to Ms Grade and she’ll keep me in mind.

On Wednesday I had a meeting with Eva Pritscher from the Goethe-Institute in Phonm Penh. It would be possible to do a german-teacher-education here in Asia and teach german at the GI but the problem is the next course starts in April in Bangkok … so if I wanna do the course I need to move there for three month in total and that’s not really an option for me! After that 3-month course you can do some online courses at the GI to get the “green diploma” and finally after a year or so you’re able to teach german at every GI all around the world (outside of Germany). That would be a great opportunity as well but I don’t think that this is an option for me right now.

But beside of that education Eva gave me two contacts in town. Sybille and Anja are also from Germany and maybe we can start together something like a playgroup or “class” for children at the GI. There are families living in Phnom Penh how are interested that their children are learning german and there’s no offer in town so far. Wouldn’t be a well paid job but it sounds like fun to do something like that πŸ™‚

In between of all the interviews and meetings I started practising Yoga again and joined two classes at The Flicks Community House … it feel’s so good to be back into Yoga and Oscar is a great teacher as well. Even if the classes are totally different from the Bikram-Lessons I had so far I felt full of positive energy afterwards and it’s a present from me to myself to go there 1 or two times a week …

Beside of the story a couple of pics this time … I know, not that many but I’m working on it to get some more of them πŸ™‚ So be patient with me and I’m sure I can show you more impressions of my life here in Cambodia pretty soon!

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