The True Mongolian Experience

I dropped the keys to my ger in my outhouse…five minutes after receiving them.

Imagine how hard it was for me to explain that to my host family using only nonverbal signals after just meeting them. 

There were lots of confusing looks followed by hysterical laughing and that’s pretty much how almost every conversation between us goes. It’s a constant game of charades and makes every interaction interesting.

During my first week in Mongolia I learned how to master the squat outhouse and I’m confident my legs will be made of steel by the end of the summer.

I also learned how to make a proper fire in my stove and how to (not so) effectively shower in a tumpin – a fancy word for a slightly large bucket. 

I’ve traded shopping malls for mountains, and traffic jams for cow crossings, but I think I’m finally getting used to this place.

I look forward to going home after class and spending time with my family each day and retreating to my own little oasis in my ger every night. 



Apart from feeling like I’m camping and killing a million spiders a day, I can thoroughly say I enjoy the ger life – for now!  

It’s a simple way of living but a lot of work, which I hear gets even harder in the winter. I don’t know if I could manage but I guess I’ll find out at the end of summer when I get my permanent site placement! 

And of course, my favorite part of living in Mongolia so far: Tommy! 


I was initially surprised by how many Mongolians dislike dogs. Most people see them as wild animals, only good for protecting the house, but luckily my family treats Tommy pretty well.

Other than that I’m alive and well! 

From Detroit to UB

This entire week has been wild.

From being told I was a part of the “Chosen 13” who were staying an extra night in South Korea, to learning I will be living in a ger during Pre-Service Training (PST), Peace Corps Mongolia has been an amazing experience thus far.

After arriving in San Francisco with 60-something other Peace Corps volunteers, I learned in one of our first few meetings that I would be a part of a group that would need to stay an extra night in Seoul, South Korea because there wasn’t enough space on the plane for us.

Initially, I was pretty bummed and experiencing some serious FOMO but then I realized that I was able to eat amazing Korean BBQ and explore Seoul – something I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise for a while.

When I finally arrived in Ulaanbaatar (UB) I was overwhelmed and completely exhausted. The “Chosen 13” arrived pretty late at night and squeezed onto a 14 person van to make the drive to our training site.

The following days were spent in meetings learning about all of the Peace Corps rules, expectations and what to do when we experience the inevitable bout of diarrhea.

I also made some amazing new friends that will be along for the ride with me for the next 27 months.

IMG_0254

While this entire week has been fun, exhausting and really exciting, I was still anxious to learn more about my host family. We were instructed that we would learn about our family dynamics and where we would be living during PST on Friday during our last session.

To say I got the best deal of the bunch would be an understatement.

I will have a host dad who is a lawyer and local government official, and a host mom who is a teacher. I have four sisters, ranging from the ages of 4 to 18. My oldest sister has studied English for a few years so communicating should be a little bit easier. I will also have a guard dog on the property that I am assuming will become my best friend. And the best part of all: I AM LIVING IN A GER!

IMG_0244

Only 4 of us were selected to live in a ger and I have no idea how I am one of them.

I will be living with electricity, but without running water. I will be tending to a fire during the colder summer nights and getting the full on Mongolian experience.

I will still be living on my host family’s property and I’ll be able to use these next 3 months as a trial run to see if the ger life is for me.

I probably won’t have reliable wifi during PST but I’ll try to keep everyone updated as often as I can.

Pre-Departure Jitters

In two days I will be getting up bright and early, taking a trip to the airport, and getting on a plane to San Francisco, CA for Peace Corps staging.

I’ll spend three days in SF attending meetings, exploring the city, meeting the other M28s (we’re the 28th group to go to Mongolia), and eating a lot of In-n-Out Burger.

From there, in the early hours of May 27th, we’ll be flying to Seoul, South Korea, eat some Korean food during the layover, and then fly to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

It’s crazy to me that in just less a week from now, I will be in the “land of the blue sky.”

I remember getting my acceptance email back in October while I was at work and crying from how happy I felt.

I remember thinking May 24th would never arrive and I’d be stuck in Michigan for what felt like decades.

I remember making a countdown that said 210 days until my departure, and now I have two.

A lot of people keep asking me how I feel about leaving home for so long and I never really knew what to tell them – until now.

Have you seen Jaws? Of course you have! And if you haven’t, don’t fret because you will still know exactly what I’m talking about.

When Chrissie – yeah, I’m talking old school, original Jaws – takes her infamous last swim and the haunting “dun-dun, dun-dun, dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun, da-na-na!” plays eerily in the background as the great white shark makes his slow approach, you can’t help but feel on edge because you know this huge event in the movie is about to happen.

And that’s exactly how I feel!

As the number of days until my departure lessen, I can’t help but feel like this journey I am about to embark on is going to be a major part of my life, and to be honest, my emotions are all over the place.

Some days I’m happy and excited, while other days I’m sad and anxious.

I just want the day to be here already.

Now, I don’t mean to compare this huge life event of mine to a death scene in Jaws (sorry mom!), but I just wanted to create the perfect metaphor that captures my ultimate love for Shark Week and my anxious/excited feelings about the Peace Corps.

Thankfully, after giving my readers that great visual, I’ll be heading to a landlocked country – so no need to worry about any sharks!