UGRAD experience of Linara Aligazhiyeva

Studying in America was the most cherished dream since my childhood, but like many others, I never thought that one day my dream could become a reality.
So, on August 15, 2017, I left Kazakhstan and departed to the United States, Tennessee. Having boarded the plane I started to literally pinch myself, because I didn’t believe in everything that was happening. At that very moment I felt two emotions at once, both happiness and excitement. I was full of expectations, uncertainties and mixed feelings. From that day I started the most amazing journey of my life…
Once I arrived to my host university everyone gave me a warm welcome. It was so nice of them and it made me feel happy. Then local students showed me around the campus and we went sightseeing around my host city. After, they had placed me in a dormitory for international students. I was happy with my placement. From the first day I got acquainted with so many students there and made friends.

First two weeks went by much faster than I had anticipated, because every day was full of different events and meetings.
Educational system is a bit different from the one that I used to. We were allowed to choose whatever classes we wanted to enroll, and to take a full advantage of this experience I decided to focus on cartography and GIS. Thanks to all my professors I have learned a lot in my major. Having returned back to Kazakhstan I shared everything I learned with my group mates and even teachers. I have gained the knowledge that will help to build a successful career. Other than my major classes, I took one US history course. During that class, I gained knowledge that helped me to understand deeply American culture.
Another important part of my experience in the US was community service. I did my volunteering hours at Food Pantry Outreach center. I learned that there are many ways to help other people and I’m glad I did my own contribution to my local community because in this short period of time I became a part of it.

It’s worth mentioning that the program gave me a great opportunity to meet people from various countries around the world, such as Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Honduras, Spain, Germany, Italy, Moldova, Korea, Japan, Philippines etc. It was a great learning experience for me, because we all had many differences and even more similarities. For me, as for representative from Kazakhstan it was a great chance to showcase our country, traditions, share our beliefs and values with so many people. Also by getting to know different cultures UGRAD program gave me curiosity for the rest of the world and it completely changed my perspective on life.
Overall, even without realizing it, I learned so much from each day I was there. UGRAD program allowed me to gain a more complete sense of independence and has helped me develop into a better person. America added a lot to my own character and wisdom which forced me to become more self-reliant.
I’m thankful for my UGRAD experience. I have gained amazing memories meeting amazing people, spending time with my host family, traveling within the US and having the time of my life. I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything.
And I’m forever grateful to the US State Department and all World Learning staff that they believed in me and made my dream come true!