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This feature is part of a series of articles we are creating to highlight and celebrate the diversity in our community as a digital extension of our annual International Fall Festival. 

Tumenkhuslen (Huslen) Batdelger is a long way from home as she enters her final year of studies at UW-Eau Claire.

She got a scholarship to study at UWEC in 2017, and traveled from her home in Mongolia’s capital city, UlaanBaatar, to start her college career. She is currently working toward a major in Business Finance.

The 13-hour time difference between her and her friends and family at home has been a big adjustment.

“I had to learn how to be very independent here,” she says. “I didn’t know anyone, my parents and friends are all in Mongolia, so I had to learn how to get out of my comfort zone and to take care of myself. It would have been very different if I had chosen to study and stay at home.”

But she has found a supportive community at UWEC and in Eau Claire.

“My host family was very helpful in getting acquainted with Eau Claire when I first came to the States” she says. “They picked me up from the airport and gave me a lot of delicious American home food!”

She has also found that her academic and international student advisors and the friends she has made have been key to adjusting to school in the U. S.

However, there are some things that she really misses from home – including the food.

“Now that I live off-campus, I can make some Mongolian food, but I miss the traditional snacks and drinks,” says Huslen.

Nonetheless, she has been building an exciting and rewarding college experience for herself.

“I studied abroad-abroad through UWEC,” she laughs, explaining that she was able to take advantage of the University’s extensive study-abroad program to study for a year in South Korea.

She has also found plenty to love about Eau Claire.

“People are so nice. They say hi on the sidewalks, and people want to get to know you, even in Ubers,” she says.

And she’s discovered something Eau Clairians know well – the joys of ice cream. Huslen’s shop of choice is Olson’s. Enjoying some of their ice cream while reading along the river downtown has become a favorite pastime.

This year has been a bit different than previous years for Huslen. Because of travel restrictions, she was not able to travel home this summer as she typically does.

This semester will bring new challenges as well as students return to classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Students need to be self-conscious and take care of themselves,” she says.

She has mixed feelings about starting amid all of the unknowns, but is excited to be beginning her last year of school.

As for her future: she’s figuring that out.

Graduate school is a strong possibility for her once she has finished her undergrad degrees.

“I would like to work in the United States,” she says, “but work visas can be tricky.” In order to stay long-term, Huslen will need to find an employer that would be willing to sponsor her visa.  

Whatever the future holds, Huslen’s willingness to head into the unknown and her abilities to adapt to new surroundings and situations will serve her well in her future success. We’re glad she will carry her Eau Claire experiences and education with her.

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