August 13th was my 31st birthday and it was pretty much everything I could have asked for in Mongolia. I sang some karaoke with my new friends, drank some beer, witnessed a bar fight, and got a couple of presents. Unfortunately my friend Andi’s phone was stolen in the fracas. But, our Safety and Security Manager tracked it down and got it back to her!
Swearing in was everything I expected it to be, with some great performances and speeches from my fellow volunteers. Afterward we ate some sack lunches, catered by a local restaurant. I got a banana! I underestimated how much I would miss bananas. After getting all of our stuff packed onto various means of transportation, those of us going to UB said goodbye to those going to their sites right from Darkhan. The bus ride got a little rough and my head hit the bus ceiling a couple times. Pro tip: don’t sit in the raised back row of the bus in Mongolia.
On the 16th of August, I did a little shopping in UB and had lunch in a Russian Culinaria. I had a surprisingly cold “potato cutlet”, which was like a fried shepherd’s pie. After lunch, my supervisor and I returned to the dormitory I had stayed in the previous night to pick up my stuff and head to my new home. The ride was smooth and much faster than I had anticipated. Since I’ve been here, my new site mates have been very welcoming and have done so much to help me settle in. They took me on a tour of the area they call “uptown” and I did some shopping for my new apartment, on the fifth floor of my building.
I haven’t done any work yet, since my supervisor and counterparts have been at a seminar to learn about the new curriculum the government wants us to implement. Basically at this point I’m waiting for a phone call from them telling me they want me to come in. The only people I’ve met from my school so far are my supervisor, the Training Manager, and my landlord, the Social Worker. They’re both very nice, but I can’t wait to meet the teachers I’ll be teaching to and teaching with.