Fall 2002. I am a sophomore at the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages, majoring in English Linguistics with French minor- I have a full state scholarship and my education is not only free- I get monthly stipend depending on the quality of my grades (GPA: 3.89). In addition to 6-8 classes per semester, I take extra English and French classes four times a week. I live with my dad and brother and life is very busy but sweet.
I am applying for this exchange program for the third time. I write 3 essays, attach 2 recommendations in closed envelopes and submit my grades; I pray, as this is the last time I can apply for this.
In about 2 months I get a reply that I passed this “1st round” and I am invited for an interview and a preliminary TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
In another month, they call me to invite me to the real TOEFL test – I have passed “2nd round”
Around late spring, I know that my TOEFL results were good – I passed the “3rd round” and I am going to Huntsville, AL. For the whole academic year I will study in the University of Alabama in Huntsville. I will receive money for books and monthly stipend. My dorm, food and classes are paid by the US State Department.
I am one of the 3 girls from my city, and one of the 13 students from Uzbekistan who will participate in this program in 2003-2004. It’s mind blowing for a geeky girl like me who never lived away from her parents.
Right before we say good-bye to our parents who come to see us off – we are asked to sign this paper- just a formality. It has 2pages- and it has our name and how much money will be spent on each of us. In also has a box ‘subject to two-year residence requirement based on – Government funding’
We are asked to read it thru and everyone notices this passage on the back about our physical presence in our country of origin after the program completion. We cannot apply for an immigrant visa until we spend 2 years in our home country, even if we get married to a US citizen or give birth to a US citizen.
I easily sign this form- I am not planning on staying in the USA – it’s just a year full of fun, where everything (or mostly everything) is paid for. After the completion of the program I plan to come back to my home University and get my B.S. degree in English Philology