UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa -- When Dulguun Erdenebulgan came to Penn State to pursue her LL.M. degree, she didn’t know that she was the very first Mongolian student to study at Penn State Law.
She didn’t fully know what to expect on her first day as a student at Penn State, nor did she know that her decision to come to Happy Valley would help lead to several colleagues from her alma mater, the National University of Mongolia, to also continue their studies as Nittany Lions.
But she did know one thing for sure: Once she got here, she felt at home.
“I don’t think I’ll ever forget my first day coming to Penn State,” Erdenebulgan said. “The town was so nice, and I remember meeting so warm and welcoming people. Immediately, it just felt right.”
Fellow LL.M. student Solongo Buyanbat says Erdenebulgan’s decision to come to Penn State Law “helped create a bridge between Mongolia and Penn State.” Now they are joined by fellow National University of Mongolia alumni Enkhtuya Baasankhuu, Nomin Zulbayar, and Javzmaa Altanzul.
“Mongolia has a population of 3 million people, and five of them are here at Penn State Law, which is really impressive to me,” Erdenebulgan said. “I think that really speaks to the level of diversity here.”
Zulbayar agrees that the diversity of the Penn State Law student body is one of her favorite things about being a part of the LL.M. program, which is currently home to 88 students from 27 countries around the world.
“That’s maybe what’s been most important for me; you meet students from so many different backgrounds and places, and have the opportunity to work with professors in many different areas of law,” Zulbayar said. “I have the opportunity to learn, not just in class, but from my peers, how things work in Europe, or India, or China, which is a very enriching experience.”
Baasankhuu says she also appreciates the diversity of courses offered at Penn State Law. Whereas other universities she looked at offered only a limited scope of courses for LL.M. students, she was pleasantly surprised to find that she would have access to the wide range of Penn State Law’s academic offerings.
“The school provides traditional courses, classes like Torts and Contracts, but also offers very modern courses on subjects like in-house counsel, representing entrepreneurs, and international financial law,” Baasankhuu said.
Buyanbat adds that it’s not just Penn State Law’s course offerings that represent a modern approach to legal education—it’s the school itself. She says the Socratic method of teaching helps her engage with the course material and the use of technology in the classroom (such as the class recordings she can watch later while studying) help her stay on top of her studies.
“Before I came here, I imagined law school as an old-school and old-fashioned kind of experience,” Buyanbat said. “But once I got here, I realized our law school is very forward-thinking—and our building might be the most modern building here!”
Altanzul shares many of the opinions held by her peers, but adds that the location is one her favorite parts of studying at Penn State Law. She enjoys the town of State College, consistently ranked one of the safest cities and best college towns in the United States, and appreciates the natural beauty of the surrounding area.
“When I’m homesick I love to visit the Reading Room in our library, which has a beautiful view,” Altanzul said. “Mongolia is a mountainous country, so I look out the window at Mount Nittany, and I feel like I’m at home.”
As the first Mongolian students of Penn State Law, all five women look forward to being part of the worldwide ranks of Penn State alumni, giving them a family not only in Mongolia, but around the world.
“Everywhere I go there are a lot of Penn Staters,” Erdenebulgan said. “No matter where you go, if you say ‘We Are!’ you find someone who’s lived here and studied here.”