Arts & Life

An international student’s experience at CSULB

As of spring 2023, there are around 1,241 international students at Long Beach State with most being graduate students.

One of these international students is Alan Lim from Cambodia, who is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration in entrepreneurship and innovation and received his Bachelor of Science in business finance at CSULB.

Lim is originally from Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia and moved to the United States when he was 17-years-old to attend CSULB. Ever since he was young, he always desired to study abroad.

“Coming to the U.S. for my degree was a great opportunity for me to not only gain a quality education but also experience a new culture and a different way of life,” Lim said.

He added that Cambodia had a limited higher education system which often has outdated curriculum, while in the U.S. the curriculum is more up-to-date.

CSULB MBA student Alan Lim is excited to graduate from CSULB with MBA in entrepreneurship and innovation.
CSULB MBA student Alan Lim is excited to graduate from CSULB with MBA in entrepreneurship and innovation. He is proudly showing off his sash with the Cambodia flag on it. Photo credit: Ahrahm Joo

Some of Lim’s favorite memories home away from home was spending time with his friends that he made. One of his favorite places in the U.S. is Yosemite National Park.

“If I were to pick one state to stay, California is still on the top of my list,” Lim said. “From the breathtaking beaches of the Pacific Coast to the stunning scenery of Yosemite National Park, there’s always something to do in California.”

For international students, it’s not just moving away from home to a whole new country that’s difficult, there are dozens of other challenges that come into play once you start school.

One of Lim’s challenges was managing his academics and personal responsibilities. At first, it was adapting to the American education system and the teaching style, which was entirely different from Cambodia’s.

To overcome this, he created a routine and prioritized different tasks to help him be on track between school life and personal life. He also got help from professors, advisors and fellow students.

Another challenge Lim faced was homesickness.

“Being away from home for an extended period of time, was challenging for me, especially since I was in an unfamiliar place and culture,” Lim said.

As an international student, Lim experienced many culture shocks of things that were normal in the United States but were are not normal in Cambodia.

Some of it was how people talked in the U.S.

“[People here are] more direct and assertive in their speech, while Cambodians often use more indirect language and avoid confrontation,” Lim said. “These culture shocks were challenging at first, but they helped me to grow and learn more about the world around me.”

He also added that this took him some time to adjust himself to the new surroundings and culture. But with the help from his friends back home and new friends he made at CSULB, he was able to overcome his homesickness.

After graduating, Lim plans to travel around the U.S. for few months before returning to Cambodia.

Once he goes back to his home country, he wants to use what he learned in the states make an impact in his community back home.

“My education has prepared me to contribute to the development of my country and I am excited to apply what I have learned to make a difference,” Lim said.

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