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Lkhagvaa Erdenesuren

image lkhagvaa erdenesuren

In augustus 2016 begon Lkhagvaa Erdenesuren uit Mongolië aan zijn master op Tilburg University. Met de beurs die mogelijk is gemaakt door de Tilburg School of Economics and Management alumni, kan hij dit collegejaar de master Economics volgen.

Coming from a small village in the far north of Mongolia, Tilburg University welcomed Lkhagvaa Erdenesuren in August 2016. We interviewed him to hear his story and got to know a determined student, curious for the world outside of Mongolia! Lkhagvaa wants to pursue a master in economics. Before his arrival, he completed a bachelor program in Economics and worked at the Central Bank of Mongolia, both in the capital Ulaanbaatar. Despite his job as a research assistant Lkhagvaa decides to leave his home country, consciously exposing himself to a ‘shock’. Engaging in challenging education in Western Europe became his plan. Tilburg University was his choice, above any other. His motivations and determination become clear when we reveal some of his past.

His journey starts in the cold North of Mongolia, a developing country that’s famous for its wide grasslands, nomadic culture and notorious historical legacy under the rule of Khan. During high school his family moves to Ulaanbataar in search for better financial opportunities. ‘’Financial options are scarce, and urbanization is for many not a free choice’’. Lkhagvaa stayed behind to finish high school and plays intensively the ‘Morin khuur’ (a traditional Mongolian instrument). He appears to have serious musical talent which led to a scholarship enabling him to travel to the US. For one month he and five others perform traditional music to enrich the cultural perception of US students. This first trip out of Mongolia opened his eyes and showed an enormous contrast that claimed his full attention.
Lkhagvaa explains that the Asian culture is substantially different from the Western. “The west is very open and informal, whereas Mongolia knows stronger elements of hierarchy, social expectations and conformism. I’m a very talkative person compared to many other Mongolians and that’s not always appreciated. People often blamed me for this. Many Asian cultures like the Mongolian don’t really accept criticism towards the elder or authority for instance. Therefore people tend to miss critical attitudes or approaches regarding societal problems, I think. That’s one reason why I wanted to leave, despite my promising job.” His friends and family were in full support of his decision. “I want to create a meaningful and influential life for myself and others by discovering my full potential. Going abroad to Tilburg University contributed more to that goal than staying in Mongolia, because here I get seriously challenged education wise, linguistic, culturally and personally. I can already conclude that Tilburg University makes me a better person. One of the most valuable lessons for me here is critical thinking. After failing an assignment I had worked hard on, only one advice was given to me: be more critical! I took that advice and already receive much better grades.”
“After coming to Tilburg University I started believing much more in economics; it started to live for me. Mongolia experiences like many other countries an ageing process. We see a growing pressure on the shoulders of the young and a lack of progressive approaches regarding that problem. My focus is therefore on ‘retirement, ageing and pension fund’. The Netherlands take a leading position in this field and my professors are very inspiring in their teachings. In fact, it fascinates me so much that I want to pursue a PhD degree in this particular field after finishing this master.”
“For now, staying in the Netherlands or at least Europe is therefore my preference. It allows me to study, learn and experience more than I ever could back home. One day I will go back to Mongolia with credibility and valuable knowledge to improve our own pension fund system.” Lkhagvaa’s determination to go abroad also becomes clear when he explains how he learned English. “I realized that English proficiency was crucial, but I had to learn it all by myself as we don’t have English classes in school. By working as a tour guide and lots of reading I practiced English for a long time, but it was really hard. After five proficiency exams I finally obtained the required level and applied for this scholarship.”
“Once I got accepted, Tilburg University with its high rankings was an easy choice. Learning to apply economics for societal issues was a central motivation for me. The Understanding Society motto attracted me in that regard. As I simply wanted to experience new things, the diverse cultural community was another convincing reason. Literally, a new world enfolds for me at Tilburg University. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and very happy with my choice for leaving Mongolia!”