A Cambodian student gives her perspective on 'psychology major' in the country

Sambath Soksovankessor, well-known by her nickname Catherine, is a 17-year-old psychology freshman at Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP). Catherine is not only a psychology student, but she is also a presenter for LOY9 TV magazine created by BBC Media Action. She finds out that psychology is not a new major in Cambodia. The major has been taught only in Royal University of Phnom Penh since 1997, yet there are not many students interested in this major, as they do not know this major exactly.

“Psychology is an important major in Cambodia, but there are not many people knowing its value,” said Catherine. As a psychology student, Catherine gives a definition of psychology that it is the study of phenomenon of people emotion, thought, and behavior and it is also the study about biology and mental of the human. The study of theories and ideas of psychologist scholars is also included in psychology major, she adds.

She has been interested in this major since she was in grade 12 in high school when her biology teacher taught about heart and brain of human and told that psychology was related to that. Then it caught her attention when she learned that psychology focused much on human body and mind. She started to read more on psychology books and psychologist theories. Thus, after finishing high school, she did not hesitate to choose psychology as her major at RUPP.

Other majors focus generally on the whole issue in the society, but psychology is another step beyond. It does focus on not only general knowledge in society but also mind and behavior of people. “If compared to others majors like social science and political science, it is not so different,” said Ms. Catherine. “The difference is that it focuses more on people’s mind and behavior.”

There are billions of people on our earth, and those people have different behaviors that interact each others in the society; therefore, it makes her curious on the effect of the interaction.  To her, she fascinates in this major as it does not have the clear formulation like mathematics, but the major is required more critical thinking and analytical skill. “I am not a person who likes something that has formula or its own fact already. I like something that needs more analysis, and I like to find the fact by myself,” she said.

Job opportunities for studying psychology can be advisors, psychology lecturers, psychology doctors, and employees at NGO. Because Cambodia is a developing country and just gets out from the war, there are many jobs that need psychologists to work on. For example, there are some Cambodian people who get trauma, and psychology doctor is needed to solve the issue. Advisors are also required to provide ideas to develop the country. Psychology lecturers are also needed in the future as more universities will include the major. “When I graduate, I want to be an advisor as I like to provide ideas and do analysis,” she said.

Besides that, studying psychology can make people have good teamwork and can achieve working process more easily as we can know the social environment and people behavior. Catherine said that she could work well with her colleague as she applied her study to the real work place.

Up until now, there are more female students who are taking this major. The students also face some problems on their study. Lacking documents is one of the issues for the students to do research. Besides, as most documents are written in English, sometimes, it is difficult for them to understand the meaning as some students’ English understanding is limited. Self-study is required after school. If they do not have enough time to read the book, they are hard to understand the lesson.

Catherine also encourages Cambodian youth to do more research about psychology as it is an interesting major. Tip from Catherine to the next generation who wants to take this major is that they should make sure that what major they really want to study. If they want to study psychology, they should read more books related to psychology and apply the theories to their real lives

Article by: Sam Chanmaliny
E-mail: chanmaliny_sam@yahoo.com
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About Writer:

Liny's profile photoSam Chanmaliny is now a sophomore of Media Management at the Department of Media and Communication (DMC), and also a student of International Relations at Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia (PUC). She said that she became interested in reporting news because she wanted to meet new people. “Being a journalist, it is very important to seek the truth and repot it to the other people who do not know about that information,” said Chanmaliny, adding that this is the reason that she devotes her time on finding new story ideas to serve her audience. She started joining the CambodiaCircles.com in April 2012.