Q&A with Khuslen Ganbat

Mongolian foreign exchange student describes experiences in America


Photo by Bethany Arnold

Junior Khuslen Ganbat reflects on his time spent as a foreign exchange student. He spent the year in America from his home country of Mongolia.

Story by Nashita Kalam, Staff Writer

What were some major differences you noticed when you first landed in America?

  • [The first things I noticed] would be the people and the whole environment. Mongolia is a really cold country. The temperature would reach below -30 degrees, but it’s really humid here, so I was struggling when it was hot. Everyone in America is really nice, open and friendly with each other.

What are some differences you’ve noticed in the school system?

  • American school systems are friendlier to the kids, it’s open and you have more choices [in the classes you take]. It teaches you more about a subject, and you can learn what you want. [Students here can choose] the path that they want to take. Back home, I’d have to study 19 different subjects, and we didn’t have a choice in it. Each period would be 40 minutes, but here it’s an hour and sometimes longer, so I’m learning more of the class than I would have back home.

What do you miss most about Mongolia?

  • [I miss] my family and friends the most because all my friends are going to graduate when I’m back home, and it’s just going to be pretty lonely. [When I go back] I wanna have some authentic Mongolian food.

What is one of your favorite memories from this year?

  • Hanging out with my friends and going to the movies. I don’t have a favorite one because I’ve liked all the experiences I’ve had here. Everything’s been really fun and great. I like that everyone is able to freely express themselves and most of the time your ideas and opinions are respected. Everyone is so much more open to everything, and that was what really made me happy. I’m gonna miss all my friends when I go back. I honestly want to stay here if possible.

How did you prepare for the exchange program and how is your daily life different from when you were living in Mongolia?

  • I thought school would be really difficult, so I studied a lot, but It has been easier than I thought. I practiced my English because I had difficulty speaking it with other people. Because of COVID, I didn’t have school [back home], so I would just spend the day hanging out with my friends. Life here is fun too, and I had missed going to school everyday. Now that I’m going to class everyday and meeting with my friends, It’s [feels] so nice.

How has the foreign exchange system impacted you, and what was the process of becoming an exchange student?

  • [The foreign exchange system] impacted my life a lot. I would say I definitely changed from who I was before I came here. It’s helped me improve as a person because I feel like I’ve gotten more mature than before I came here. I know what to do with my life now and have a goal now. [To come here] I had to enter a competition where only 20 students from 2,000 would be able to go to the U.S. I had to study really hard and try my best, and in the end I got lucky and managed to come here. I was really glad I was able to come here and experience being an exchange student. This year has been the most interesting year of my life, and I’m sure if I was ever given a choice, I would still choose to come here.