Monday, June 28, 2010

Still no pictures...

Blogging is not as fun when you can't upload pictures.

But on anoter note, GO WHITE SOX!!! From a 9 game deficit, too. I wish I could get daily updates!

Here are the hardest things for me to get used to here in Mongolia:

  • Dogs. They are mean. They are not pets. In fact, I go for runs with rocks in my hands to throw at the pyschotic dogs that chase after me.
  • Sniffing. People sniff each other in the same way we might give kisses. I made a big Mongol faux-pas on the day I met my host family. They came in for the sniff, I thought it was a kiss on the cheek. Awkward.
  • The Jothlon. AKA outhouse. It is a wooden shack built over a ditch with one floorboard missing. And during the heat of the day, it is COVERED in giant black flies.
  • The Tumpun. It is a large plastic basin that you fill with a half inch of water and bathe yourself in. you also use that water to wash your clothes.
  • Water. It is precious. It takes all my strength to go fetch the water from the pump (these kids have wicked strong arms) and that water will last for a day, maybe.
  • Livestock. It is literally everywhere. It is not uncommon for me to come out of the Jothlon and run into a horse. Or for a herd of cattle to me grazing at the school park.

The language barrier is proving to be quite the challenge. Mongolian is WAAAAY different from English (in a recent classroom activity, we practiced translating friend's names into Mongolian: Vanessa, your name is BAHЭCAA. Jennifer: ЖЭHЙФЭP. Brittany: БPЙTTAHЙ). Also, vowels are very very important. If you stress or do not stress a vowel the difference can be huge (bac = and, baac = poop).

Otherwise things are going well. Apart from the occasional bout of loneliness or the lack of privacy, I am holding up well. That is not to say that I don't miss home like crazy. I think I have finally realized how long 2 years really is. So, make me happy... send me a letter :)

Oh and one final thing. I have run into a fellow Gustie! The PC health cooridnator here in Mongolia is none other than a Gustavus Alum. How insansely small is this world?

I hope everything is going well in the states and I look forward to the say when I can chat with you all more freely (after training, I'll have much more reliable internet access). Ok,. that is all for now. Go White Sox!!!!

Until next time,

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dial Up?!

Hello Hello Hello!
Ok. Much to say. Little time to say it.
First, internet connection is dial-up. That being said, I am writing to you all via copy and paste in a word document as Blogger loads. I may or may not get to password protecting this thing quite yet. And on that note, don’t expect pictures anytime soon. I will be traveling to a bigger city a little later, so I will try load that blog with pictures for you all.
Reason for said awful internet connection is that I am training in a town of 1,200. It is SMALL. There are 12 of us Americans training here… we make up 1% of the population. Ridiculous. We for sure stick out like sore thumbs here.
We are each living with a host family and attending language and TEFL training courses everyday. My host family is great. I have a mom, dad, and two little sisters. I live in a house right next to the school. My family owns 10 horses and 12 cattle. Which means we eat/drink A TON of dairy. Not so good if you are lactose intolerant. I just finally was able to communicate that milk makes me sick.
Speaking of communicating, Mongolian is HARD. The sounds are way different and the entire sentence construction is different from English. But I understand more and more everyday, which is pretty exciting.
Here are some quick bullet points for you all:
-I gave my monoglian dad a sox hat. He wears it every day.
-I have eaten goats head, sheep intestine, and more starches and carbs than I can handle.
-I have learned to play “anklebones” – A monoglian game involving the anklebones of a goat
-Stephen- I saw the giant statue of Chingiss! In fact he is not too far from my town!
-Mrs. Grabowski- I met Erica Peyton… such a small world!
- I have learned to bathe in a tumpun
- I herded cattle the other day
- I have played at least 3 hours of volleyball everyday
- Dogs here are MEAN. You cannot pet them. In fact, you throw rocks at them.

Oh and here’s a list of great care package ideas…

-Fruit leather/ dried fruit.
-Instant coffee!! I have much less than I thought I did!
-Chocolate (peanut M&M’s… oh my gosh)
- nuts
- peanut butter
- granola bars
- basically just any food stuffs at all.
- school supplies (markers / pens/ etc...)
- anything American my host family might like
- bobby pins!
- burned copies of movies or tv shows!
- books or a copy of a newspaper
- anything at all!
(PS - Britt... one of my firends here has a speaker thingy that plugs into your ipod and doesn't use battery. It's really small and cool lookin. She said she got it from Best Buy.... If you happen to see one of those...)

Hope everything is going well in the States! yay Blackhawks and Go Sox for the domination of the Cubs! All is right with the world!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Land of the Blue Sky

MAN. It has been a loooong week. I feel like I have been in Mongolia for much longer than 5 days (has it only been that long??)

Anyhow, brace yourselves... this may (will) be lengthy.

First off, some administrative stuff... Turns out, I am not allowed to post my specific whereabouts on my blog. Which means I"ll be pretty vague as to where I am and will not be able to post my permanent address. My temporary address is the Peace Corps headquarters... you can send me stuff there until August (it is located on the side bar). Also, as an added precaution, PC urges me to password protect my blog. So, starting next time I have internet (who knows when that will be), you will need a password to access my blog. It will be my middle name. If you don't know it... email/facebook me or my parents or whoever may know. Ok. Done with that.

But to Mongolia.

The first night we arrived, we all passed out on our bus ride over and zombie-like found our way to our dorm rooms. When we woke up the next morning, a STUNNING landscape took all our breaths away. The aimag we are currently staying at is surrounded by green mountains, huge pastures, and the biggest sky I have ever seen. Truly. It's HUGE.

So the past days, we all wake up, take a probably cold (unless you are lucky) shower and spend 8 hours learning as much as we can about Mongolia, teaching, the Peace Corps, and each other. Today was a very exciting day because we found out about our host families! I will be living in a house (don't get excited... still no running water or any luxury I am accustomed to) with my mom, dad, and two little sisters. I move in with them tomorrow. I am placed in the smallest aimag which means I am not sure how much internet access I am going to get. [I am feeling particularly rushed right now because there are 10 volunteers waiting for internet] Hopefully, I will be able to post pictures and more information about what I have been doing later next week.

So, until then, I am sorry for the boring posts, but trust me I have plenty to share.


Sunday, June 6, 2010


Hey everyone! I made it safe and sound! More to come later...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Aaaaand we're off!

Greetings from San Francisco, California!

Apart from one tiny glitch at the airport (thank god for smart phones), I have arrived safely to my staging post before I ship out to MONGOLIA!

Today has been a whirlwind kind-of day, from saying goodbye to my family (love you), to meeting 50 new people, to trying to prepare myself mentally for what I am about to do. Life is so crazy sometimes.

Here are a few fun facts I learned at staging today:
  • There is a big problem with people falling into manholes. People steal the manhole covers and sell the metal to China.
  • Mongolian's LOVE their vodka. Apparently, one of the biggest threats to volunteers' health is alcoholism.
  • I have met volunteers from Sacramento to Minneapolis to Tennessee to New York to Chicago.
  • I can have my own horse!!

As I was lugging all my bags to the taxi van, I couldn't help but think of the movie, UP. I literally have to carry everything that I own and love on my back for the next two years. Really makes me question what I value and why I value it (at least 10 lbs of my pack is pictures, postcards, and trinkets that remind me of home).

I leave tomorrow at 5:30 am and will arrive in Ulaanbaatar at 8:05 am June 5th (your time). It'll be 9:05 pm in Mongolia.

So, here goes nothing! I am SO grateful for all the support and kindness everyone has given me over the last few weeks and I love you all very much.

Until next time,