The First Few Weeks: Living life in Mongolia

So here I am in Mongolia. I have been here exactly four weeks and have decided that it is high time I share my adventures with the rest of the world. Or whatever population of the world is willing to read this blog. Either way I plan on oversharing… 

I was really nervous about coming. It is a really big deal and something that is totally going to change the course of my life. The closer to the end of summer it got the more the panic set in! However, actually getting here went very smoothly, all my stuff is here and the culture shock hasn't set in yet. It is sort of like living in the bush. Things that seem weird when you are outside make perfect sense here and you just sort of have to calm down and go with it. There is a lot to do. For some reason it never really sunk into my head that I would be in a city! 

Ulaanbaatar isn't an attractive city but interesting nonetheless. There are gers everywhere. There are several that I can see from my apartment and the school has one outside where they hold their Mongolian

class. Really tey are everywhere! I am not kidding. The city bust be growing like crazy as I can see 23 building cranes just from my balcony! It doesn't feel like any city that I have ever been in before. A lot of the other teachers have been to other places in Asia and they say that the culture and the city are much more relaxed and comfortable for westerns. 

Yes, I broke down and rode the camel.

The school is brand new and beautiful and I love all the primary teachers that I am going to be working with as well as everyone in Administration. I am the youngest teacher here by several years so I have been hanging out with older people but I don't mind 

Teaching is going great. The kids are angels. Really really smart angels. I had a conversation with one of the fifth graders the other day about thinking outside of the box and creative problem solving. Really! These kids are very different from the kids in Togiak. There isn't that sense of urgency in my teaching here. In the village the kids needed the teachers to be good so badly that I felt as if I had to perform 

a miracle every day. There futures might not have depended on my but I almost felt as if they did. You know what I mean I hope. Here there isn't that feeling. The kids are going to make it with or without me. I am not sure how I feel about that so far.  

Almost my entire job is ESL which is not really what I was expecting and I am not really qualified for it so it makes me a bit nervous. On the other hand I had a mother come in to see me on Friday to tell me that she thought I was doing a great job with her son (a first grade Finnish boy who speaks no English) and how worried she had been about bringing him to school. That was nice to hear. The people that I am working with are great. The ex-pats and the Mongolian staff are all really good at their jobs. The aides in particular impress me. They are so on top of things and are always working. I don't have an aide this year (which is fine with me) but it would be less of a hassle that in 

Eagle Buttle or in Togiak where I had to constantly be chasing them down to make them do their jobs. This is a nice change. 

To get around I either walk or take a taxi. It is a little weird getting into some strangers car and I haven't yet got the nerve to go it alone (in the real taxis. yes but not the gypsy ones). The other day a friend and I got into one that was covered with Mongolian flags. Mongolia won its first two gold medals (or any medals at all) and the entire town was freaking out. Driving through the streets hanging out of the car windows holding flags, setting off fireworks and other bits of insanity! Taxi rides cost about a dollar and more than half of me Mongolian vocabulary has to do with directing them. Zoon Tish- turn right baroon tish- turn left Chigarree- straight ahead zogs- stop! Limited- yes but it is working. The third grade aide helps me with translations and helpful phrases sometimes. She is a lovely person. Even so, learning Mongolian is not going all that well. One of the other teachers just came from the US where she 

and her husband (who works at the Embassy) took a 10 month course on Mongolian and she still can't speak it very well. Still, I am going to persevere! 

Even I had to be careful not to bash my head

I haven't eaten anything exotic lately. I tried some traditional Mongolian food and I have to say I am not a big fan. We went to something called a khorwkhog last week which was like a picnic where you eat something like pot roast cooked in a milk can made with hot rocks over an open fire. It was okay but the meat still tastes strange to me and you sort of have to pick it up and tear into it with your hands and teeth. Traditionally for luck you are supposed to toss the hot rock from hand to hand until it cools. They were really really hot so I only tossed it a couple of times. 

Me: because what is life without a picture of me in a beautiful background?

I found a place to order normal chicken so I will be doing that today. Other than that I haven't bought meat at all. The cuts are different than what we are used to so i don't know what part of the animal it is let alone what animal it is. I 

am less adventurous with meat that other food. I will try it when someone else makes it but I don't want to but meat and cook it only to find out I don't like it. I am doing fine without it. There is something about dealing with cooking for myself that I just can’t deal with. 

For some reason there is a herd of goats everywhere. This is actually by the river that flows through the middle of the city.  You can't see it but the largest shopping center in the country is just out of frame.

That all for this episode…. Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of “My God, she moved Where?!”