sea change: from ED in Aus to office in Cambodia

Nurses General Nursing


I am an Aussie Nurse who has recently taken the plunge to work in Cambodia as 1.5 years. I have been out of uni for three years. Before I left I did a year of Emergency Medicine and really loved this! I loved the patient flow, my colleagues, fast paced environment and the adrenaline rush! I am now working in Phnom Pehn, the capital of Cambodia. My main job is to help set up sexual health clinics in garment factories. This is such an amazing opportunity to help these women who really need it. But, I am seriously struggling with the office environment! I cant stand to look at a computer screen for the whole day! I miss the direct patient care (already) and I have only been here for one month. I know it will get better and I know its going to be amazing. My colleagues are all lovely, but its the cambodian way to work in silence. I am missing the collegue banter already. Anyone got any experience in working overseas or in an office environment. would appriciate your thoughts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

Wow - what an exciting opportunity.

I don't work in an office environment and we in the US are a loud-mouthed group as a whole - lol.

When I worked in Korea on the military base where we lived the Koreans are much quieter then Americans. It did take getting used to.

I spent some time abroad. There were several cafes and bars that catered to western foreigners where I could meet like-minded foreigners and share the compare/contrast experience as well as get some good advice. Also, it was nice to have local friends who weren't shy around foreigners and welcomed talkative westerners.

If there's anyone in your office who isn't so quiet (westerner or local), maybe you could steal away for a chatty lunch. If there's no one in your office, stalk the local eateries and shops nearby, being open to conversation with strangers; maybe an interested, talkative local who works nearby will introduce themselves to you! Or if there's no one to share your energy with, just let out a whoop in the stairwell when no one's around? : )

I'd imagine the quiet office would be enough to drive you crazy at home, where things are familiar. So you've got a double-whammy; adapting not just to a very different work environment but also to a completely different living environment! Give yourself some more time to settle in, you can re-evaluate and re-strategize as you go.

Specializes in med-surg, step-down, ICU/CCU, ED.

I experienced a similar situation as you a few years ago. The adjustment from bedside nursing to being an office worker was something I just couldn't get used to- my post only lasted three months but to me it felt like an eternity! In the end I never did adjust, and was more than happy to be back at the bedside when I returned home.

I think you might have a better experience than I did though. You might adjust a lot quicker based on the fact that you graduated only a couple years ago. Also , your work sounds a lot more interesting than what I did overseas so as long as you stay focused on the goal at hand you will be fine.

As for your quiet co-workers? Can't really help you there. My work environment was similar as well and I compensated by attempting to be social after hours. It took a lot of effort though, because even though you have a primary desk job, you are still tired at the end of the day.

Good luck. You are doing good work. 1.5 years goes by fast so try not to get stuck on the time issue.

Wow! How is your experience so far? I am a Cambodian-American. My future goal is to set up a clinic or build a hospital in Cambodia. Thank you for your work! :)

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