Moving to a new country

Mongolian student has hopes for SHS despite the initial differences


Rin Diki

Khangai Bumerdene receiving aid from his DC Finite teacher, Mr. Adler, on school work. He is eager to ask questions.

Senior Khangai Bumerdene’s journey started with a long 30 hour flight from Mongolia across Turkey to America, followed by a series of COVID-19 vaccinations. For Bumerdene, this would be the first time he had set foot on American soil since he and his family left when he was 4 years old. 

He flew back to the U.S. to finish his education but was met with several new changes. Despite being initially indifferent about his new life in America, he is quickly adjusting and is hopeful for his future. 

“Ideally, I would prefer to stay here in the future because there are better opportunities,” Bumerdene said.

He initially had trouble getting used to his new school. He said that in Mongolia, students were assigned one classroom and the teachers would change depending on the class. He often got lost as a result of his lack of experience moving around classrooms and the larger size of the school building. 

It was hard for Bumerdene to make friends because he grew up surrounded by people just like him and who shared the same interests. He was not used to the school’s diversity and his caution held him back from talking to other students. He feared that he might unknowingly offend someone. 

“It’s hard because you don’t know what to say,” Bumerdene said. “I don’t know the culture so I don’t know if I’m saying something inappropriate or not.”

In Mongolia, he said he would often spend time at internet cafes with his friends where they would play games together. Even in America, he likes to spend his free time playing video games with his favorite being League of Legends. He said this pastime suited him because despite living with his brother, he is home alone most of the time. 

Bumerdene prefers the class style in Mongolia where a group of students are in the same classes throughout their education. He feels that he is able to better get to know his classmates because they have much more time together to become familiarized with each other. 

“We’re like a family…We basically know everything about each other,” Bumerdene said. 

Junior Biak Tin Mawi, was able to befriend him when she helped with his schedule.

Since they’ve become friends, he often helps her with her schoolwork. She said he was shy and quiet at first but is glad he is now able to fit in. 

“I really respect him. He’s smart and diligent,” Mawi said. “I like his character.” 

Moving forward, he hopes to get a job so he can start saving up for a car. He is currently working towards earning his permit and driver’s license. Although in Mongolia he would have to wait till he was 18 to drive, Indiana allows minors to drive at 16. 

“Normally you don’t start this early, but here it’s a necessity,” Bumerdene said. “It’s kind of annoying.” 

By next year, he hopes that he can begin applying for scholarships. He would like to attend college at IUPUI because his brother was a graduate from there. 

Since he has begun living with his brother, Bumerdene admits that because his brother often comes home late, they rarely get the chance to talk. However, he keeps in touch with the rest of his family and calls them every week. 

“I do feel guilty because when I call them, they miss me but I’m doing fine. I’m doing well,” Bumerdene said.