From Albania to Zimbabwe: Interview with Nomin Khishigsuren ’17

mongoliaNo matter where you are in the world, From Albania to Zimbabwe is the right place to find out about international happenings at Brown University! Hi, I’m Celina Stewart, a sophomore concentrating in International Relations here at Brown, and this is my space to give you updates and info about all things international at Brown, including international student life, international speakers, and different clubs and activities with an international focus. Read along and explore everything international at Brown! 

Hey everyone! This week I am able to provide you with an interview, so thank you for staying with me through the process of working out timing! This week’s interviewee is Nomin Khishigsuren, a freshman from Mongolia. Because she’s such a rockstar, she provided really in-depth answers and has gone above and beyond with her advice to you- so pay close attention! I’ll let her answers speak for themselves. My questions are highlighted in purple, her responses are in black.

Name: Nomin Khishisguren
Year: 2017
Country: Mongolia
Concentration (or academic interests): Astrophysics/Physics
1. How are you enjoying your time at Brown so far? 
I’m very much enjoying my time here at Brown. Although Brown is famously known for its Open Curriculum that allows you to study whatever you want, it nonetheless has an academically rigorous environment, filled with passionate students with different areas of expertise and interests. That is what makes my time more enjoyable. It provides an experience you will never get from another college. Personally, it’s a dream come true.
2. Why did you choose Brown? Did you consider any other international schools? 
During the application season, I definitely considered other international colleges, specifically in Australia, UK and Germany. But the studying in the US with its top programs, educational priorities and the utmost care the students are given appealed to me the most and that was the moment I was determined on studying in the US. Similarly, finding a specific college to apply to was hard enough, and here, I would like to offer an advice for the prospective international students intent on applying to US: choose a college that would make you happy, not because of its rank, reputation, name or whatever. Imagine yourself in a situation where you are the happiest studying and try to find a college that would satisfy that. For me, that was Brown and I don’t think I would ever be happier as I am now in other places.
3. Have you lived or studied in the US before? If not, how has that transition been? If so, what has your experience been studying in the US? 
 I haven’t studied in any international school or in the US before, so the transition from Mongolian education system to US has been unexpectedly difficult but nevertheless exhilarating. One thing that strikes me even now is the freedom of speech and open-mindedness. Not that my country is narrow-minded in its approach to educating students but that it was never paid attention to that much. In my point of view, to speak freely with an aim to convey what you think and share your opinions with your peers required a lot of courage, as I hadn’t been exposed to that kind of environment before.  But when you manage to get over that wall of fear and start to get involved and active, the fruits you will reap are great. The discussion-based classes are the ones I enjoy the most now.
4. Did you attend the international student orientation? If so, how was that experience? 
I had the greatest pleasure and joy in attending the International Orientation this year. When I got off the plane and out on the way to Brown, I felt strange spasms of mixed feelings and the sensation of coming to an alien world was clearly dominant. But by getting involved in various activities and getting to know the mentors and other international students who were in the exact same situation, it helped me immensely in adjusting at Brown. For example, the international mentors told us their first year experience at Brown and what was difficult. This helped me to look out for any difficult situations I might encounter and being informed of that had played great part in helping me blend in. The orientation was a fun and great way to get a clear insight not just into Brown’s academic and social environment, but also into US culture. Overall, it was a fantastic experience.
5. Are you active in any international student groups on campus? If so, which ones? 
I am currently in Asian American Student Association, BRIO (Brown International Organizations) and other cultural groups, but due to my tight schedule and lack of time, I am not that seriously involved, though I usually go their events and meetings now and then. I am also in BISC (Brown International Student Ambassador), where basically, I encourage international students like you to apply to Brown, because it’s inarguably the best!
6. How often do you plan on going home? Any tricks you have for staving off homesickness so far? 
I am planning to go back home during my winter break as well as my summer break next year. After that, I’m not planning to go back that often. I admit no matter how you think you can handle it, you still miss your parents, your siblings and your friends back home. I miss them terribly but not in the sense I cry everyday, like some people think. For me, tricks for staving off homesickness is being in touch with them now and then. I often Skype with my parents once a week and talk to them throughout the week. And as for friends, Facebook and Facetime (laugh). I try to cook Mongolian food once a month, and though it doesn’t always go by the plan, it is a sure way of getting rid of cravings for home food. I can’t say much other than this, because I believe different people have different ways of handling homesickness and until you find yours, I advise you to at least do as I said above.
7. Do you have the chance to talk to other Mongolian students here at Brown? 
There are currently 4 Mongolians studying here at Brown including me, and which one of them is senior and other two, juniors. Since we don’t have anyone else to bond with over Mongolian language and culture except each other, we get together a lot and usually have a dinner or a lunch together to discuss how we’ve been. They help me in times of trouble and stress, and give me advice and encouragement I don’t always get from others. Just the thought of having fellow Mongolians there for you when you’re homesick or just need to talk your problems to makes me feel safe and happy. I can’t imagine how I would be without them supporting me.
8. Do you feel welcomed to Brown by other students? 
I feel very welcomed by the other students here at Brown. They understand that international students came from different countries and backgrounds, and therefore, they are all friendly and nice. They know that you are equally qualified as they are and in my view, I don’t think such discrimination exists against any students here, just because they are international. Many of them are actually intrigued by internationals. Not just students but faculties, professors and deans are all very welcoming and understanding. So I believe it’s safe to say that Brown is a very accepting and happy place.
9. What are you involved with on campus? How easy has getting involved been? 
Brown is the perfect place to get involved in groups and activities. Not only it is easy to get involved but also, you can start your own group if such doesn’t exist. In my case, I found out that there are no astronomy clubs here at Brown so I’m now in the process of starting up my own in the spring semester with the help of my professor. As I mentioned above, there are international organizations I’m involved with but there are other clubs I’m in as well like, Math and Physics DUG (departmental undergraduate group), Film Festivals, Chess and anime society. As you see, there are clubs and groups of different varieties and it is very simple and easy to join and get involved.
10. Any advice for prospective international students that are interested in applying to Brown? 
For those of thinking of applying to Brown, show your interest and why you think you should be here. I know it’s a very strenuous time of the year for you as you are trying to excel SAT, write a concrete essay and such, but think for the moment why you are interested in applying to Brown. Do you have good reasons? Then show them. That’s my advice for you as for now. When you get accepted and come here the next fall, I’ll be here with other students welcoming you in our arms and full of other advice to give. Best of luck and may the odds be ever in your favor!  😀 
Have  questions or comments? Feel free to email me at celina_stewart@brown.edu and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible! Or, if you’d rather,  just comment on the blog! 
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