Alumni stories

My American experience

My trip to the USA began by getting interviewed and acquiring my visa at the American Embassy in Ulaanbaatar. People with various travel purposes, ranging from visiting a student daughter, attending a Dalai Lama lecture and travelling, were queuing to get a visa alongside me. Slightly nervous, probably because of the very common con-cept among Mongolians that a "U.S. visa is extremely difficult to get," I came to understand that it is important "the visa requester herself give honest information/answers,"

Mentally picturing USA to be a dreamland, I took off from Beijing and landed in San Francisco where I met another big crowd of Chinese and other Asians, making me slightly confused as to where I had arrived. I was rather amazed how people wherever I met, although all strangers, greeted me with smiles.

When I missed my flight from Charlotte to Gainesville, I got terribly distraught by the feeling of hopelessness in a strange country. But then my luck struck when an American who was a complete stranger came up to me and said "I missed mine, too. We can take a flight to Jacksonville and drive to Gainesville from there. You can accompany me if you don’t mind." I understood one thing from this man’s simple conversation and many others, whether black or white – the pride of being an American. We stopped by "Waffle House" on our way, where he treated me with some fried eggs and said a very memorable line: "Of all the places, you’re in Waffle House for your first time in the USA. But still, Welcome to America!"

Although Gainesville is a small town where the University of Florida, in which my training course was being held, is located, I must note that it was also one of the nicest and quietest towns in Florida. At first, it was quite uncomfortable to me that everyone had smiles in their looks, but after a few days, I learned that these smiles gave me immense energy for the whole day. Besides deepening my knowledge of America’s domestic and for-eign policies while studying in the USA, learning to smile was a huge achievement for me.

Through participating in the SUSI program, I learned that American people provide every possible condition for the student to learn and support them greatly. We’ve had the privilege to hear the lectures of professors famous not only in the USA, but well-known globally in their areas, and to dine with them, exchanging information in various topics or even, at times, regular conversations. One of those great people was Prof. John J. Mearsheimer whom I never even dreamt of meeting.

I’m deeply grateful for my professors Steve and Laura who took us on a 350 km vigorous trip in order to show us in practice what we learned in lectures. I still imagine the American people through the kindness of these 2 great people who not only taught us important lessons, but also cared for us like our parents. I consider myself extremely lucky because, besides the program, they took us through every city in Florida by frequently organizing trips to show us American culture and history. Among those beautiful cities, I loved the beach city Tampa the most. This breathtaking city keeps numerous historical and cultural heritages of the Spanish colony, and left us unforgettable memories of visiting the Tampa Tribune, hearing lectures about important lobbies that affect America’s internal and foreign policies from real life, professional lobbyists, and finally meeting Mongo-lian officers who worked at CENTCOM.

Also, we travelled back to our precious childhood through visiting Disney World, in Orlando. We were introduced to the daily activities of the famous Chicago Stock Exchange, paid respect to Washington D.C’s memorial of the soldiers who lost their lives in the Vietnam War, visited the Congress hall, and so on.

Looking back, I’ve realized that my experience in the USA gave me three important changes in my life. First, I learned that by greeting everyone with a smile gives me energy and happiness. Secondly, I understood that if you’re confident, globalization gives you the possibility to be accepted not only in your home country, but in the entire world. Third and most importantly, the greatest change was that I now have friends and colleagues in 18 countries. When I think of the USA, I now have only one picture in my mind. This country that gave me confidence and hope, is definitely the home of democracy. Why? Wherever you go, in other parts of the world, you feel you’re a foreigner and a stranger. Whereas in the USA, people talk to you as equal "human being," regardless of race, status, wealth and origin. America is not a fairy-tale heaven. It is the motherland of Democracy.

I give my sincerest regards and appreciation to my dear little town of Gainesville, University of Florida, my dearest friends Laura, Steve, Justin, Johan-nes and Elizabeth Lettham. I’m deeply grateful for your sincere efforts in helping us know and understand that the foreign policy of USA depends directly on its domestic policy, that the people are the pride of this country, and most importantly the pride of every citizen is America.

At the state department I loved D.C