“I wanted to have a more meaningful winter break.”


UBELONG Snapshot
Name: Nicholas Bruhn
Age: 23
Hometown: Madison
Nationality: United States
University: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Degree: Accounting, Risk Management and Insurance
Languages spoken: English, Spanish (beginner), German (beginner)
Past travel experience: Avid
Volunteer Abroad: Teaching English in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Duration: 2 weeks
Start month: January 2015
Claim to fame: Has taught three different courses and worked with many international students in advising roles at the Wisconsin School of Business.

Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I wanted to have a more meaningful winter break while seeing a part of the world I would not have seen otherwise. I had heard great things about the UBELONG group from friends, and those things proved to be true. The people were absolutely wonderful and provided extensive resources to prepare us for a comfortable transition to the country.

What were your major challenges?
The jet lag was a difficult adjustment because Cambodia was 13 hours ahead of my home time zone. Upon arriving in Cambodia, most volunteers wanted to explore the city right away, but the sleep schedule was off for the first few days. Finding vegetarian options is always challenging in a new city. Also, I was not used to needing to find bottled water to drink as opposed to getting water out of the tap. Bottled water is everywhere, but it was an adjustment to think ahead a bit to make sure you have potable water. After a few days of acclimating, these challenges are not even noticeable though.

What is your favorite memory?
My favorite memory is our weekend trip to Siem Reap. A group of volunteers took a sleeping bus and got to Siem Reap close to sunrise. We hired tuk tuk drivers for the day who showed us the temples, starting with Angkor Wat. After an afternoon of temple trekking and eating fresh pineapple, our tuk tuk drivers took us to the Tonle Sap lake. We rented out a boat to see the floating village and watch the sunset over the lake. We capped the night off with dinner and drinks downtown.

In a sentence or less, best packing advice?
Pack as lightly as possible so you can bring things back home.

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Related post:
Meet Maria Cuomo, a young professional from Italy, who volunteered with UBELONG at the microfinance and income generation project in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.