Posts Tagged 'settling in'

the vital importance of being earnest

Things are a bit quiet now, with trying to settle into a flow.  Last weekend, the UB Players performed their spring play – the Importance of Being Earnest. It was a wonderful production, with some very talented actors.  I helped with stage crew duties during the shows, and in true production style, we did throw in a few pranks on the last night – mainly replacing the tea with vodka and Mongolian sweet wine.  It was fun.  The play was of course in English – Oscar Wilde’s greatest talent (his wit and way with words) is also his downfall when it comes to translation.

Other than that, not much else is happening.  It is getting warmer, but not much in the way of rain.  There is some greenery emerging, but very slowly.   I’ve started my language classes and trying to be good about studying.  While I am not interested in becoming proficient in Mongolian, I do need to be able to get around better.

Generally, things going on – teaching yoga weekly and trying to practice on my own as I can; working on a research methodology manual and some training classes; wrote this week’s quiz (as quiz master); trying to find a good niche for my research, potentially focusing on the commercialization of agriculture; catching up on my American TV shows; developing a podcast format for OSF; learning Mongolian; figuring out travel plans for my parents; and planning out the next four years or so of my life. 🙂



It had to happen sometime, though I was not expecting it so soon. I’ve come down with quite the nasty bug. I’m hoping it’s viral and self-limiting, so I don’t have to worry about antibiotics. In case, though, I’ve put in a request to my insurance company for the name of my doctor. Or, I’ll just “borrow” someone else’s antibiotics.
I suspect it’s the pollution, and the dust storm (coupled with a closeby fire) we had recently. But this one has been a doozy – my throat is swollen and sore from the base of my neck to my outer ear. The fever has come and gone, and now I’m chewing tylenol like candy. Swallowing hurts (fyi, juice, with its acidity, doesn’t make things better). I’ve stopped taking the decongestants, because the dryness isn’t helping my throat. This doesn’t bode well for surviving the winter!
On the upside, I managed to drag myself out of bed to visit the pharmacy for medication. It went surprisingly well, given my lack of Mongolian and Russian, and her lack of English. I’m learning charades quite well.

the little things

Some days, things seem really hard.  I know that my East Coast mentality needs to be dropped, but it’s hard not to get frustrated by the little things I take for granted.  Like… how much do things cost?  Sometimes, the store gives you a price.  And sometimes, it gives you 3 prices.  I have friends who tell me they still have no idea how to figure it out.

Today, I got frustrated when I realized that I don’t have an outlet compatible with my laptop plug.  I brought adapters, but not for the 3-prong type.  So I can charge my phone and camera, but not my laptop.  So, off to the internet cafe, I went.

There, things got a little better.  The staff speaks English, which helps with my other frustration – language barrier.  I need to get on those languages classes.

Then, there’s the lack of planning for things. People here don’t plan.  Me, with my color coded Google calendar is having a hard time getting used to that. On the other hand, it makes other things seem a bit easier – like randomly deciding to go to lunch.  Or maybe getting out of town.  Or perhaps, just skipping work and sitting in the internet cafe.

I run into a lot of people at Nayra Cafe, so it is fast becoming my favorite place (they also have mac and cheese in their store).   I met the Indian Ambassador here, at the same time I met the owner, who has spent a lot of time in Brazil.   Mongolians are a well-traveled people.  I also keep running into people I know, which then tends to lead to a random evening hanging out on a rooftop.

Today, I  taught my first yoga class.  It was tougher than expected, but fun.  Next week will be better.  It would help if I could just download some music, but so many sites block access outside the US.

I haven’t figured out if I can drink the tap water, so I’ve been boiling it just in case.  It tastes awful, which means I need to find some powdered drink mix.  Haven’t found it yet.

And then there was the washing machine fiasco.  How hard is it to use a washing machine, you ask?  Well, when there are about 600 buttons on it, I’d say very hard.  Also, 3 slots for soap (my mom tells me one is for bleach and one is for softener).   It took two tries to get my clothes clean.  Embarrassingly, there are English instructions on there.  They just don’t add up to the all the buttons.

But these are little things.  I hear about muggings and getting ripped off, and as the weather warms up, pickpockets and assault.  I’ve experienced none of that.  OSF is also helping me with my research (whenever I get to that, sometime after voiceovers, yoga, and rugby), which is not always the case of most people’s local partners.  And so far, the food has been great.  Life could be worse.

still looking….

I’m still trying to find an apartment here.  It’s really amazing how many I’ve seen, but haven’t seemed right, and it’s hard to tell if I’m being picky or just listening to my gut. One thing for sure – I’m definitely lost on what I’m looking for.  All my usual cues are useless here, so I’m basically flying blind.  I’ve definitely asked around for opinions, but everyone has a different idea of what they like, much of which is based on experiences (or lack thereof).  Which, really, isn’t all that different from DC.

In other news, I’m settled in the office nicely.  The whole office cooks lunch during the week, so I think I’ll join up with that, since it’s cheap and relatively healthy (at least I know what’s going in the food!).   I have a desk. And a phone. And even an email address.   I’ve talked to the executive director a bit about what I’ll be doing, and also how I can help them.   I’m currently editing a document on HIV/AIDS prevention and education, which I think is a good way to ease in.  It’s a topic area I’m familiar with, and it gives me some sense of how research is conducted here.

Oh, and I’ve been asked to teach yoga.  I miss yoga, so I am very seriously considering this.  I am not sure about teaching ,but I can certainly demo!  Should be fun.

I’ve met most of the other Fulbrighters here, and seen most of the central part of the city.   Today, randomly, I met the ambassador from India.  He’s really tall.  Everyone notices this.  His wife is very nice, and I kind of hinted that I would love if they invited me over for dinner.  I was told that the embassy holds events for holidays (Independence Day, Republic Day, Diwali, etc), so I am excited for that!

apartment hunting

I hate apartment hunting. I hate it in the US, and I hate it in Mongolia.  Everything has something wrong with it, and nothing is “just right”.   But I’m also tired of going around and looking at everything and would like to get this settled imminently.

Part of the problem is that I don’t know the city and can’t gauge what is safe and what isn’t.   Frankly, everything looks undeveloped and shady, but I’m used to a city built like a grid.  The other part is that my budget is miniscule, and the “nice” and “safe” place are out of my range.  So, I either compromise on “nice” and “safe”… or I stretch the budget a bit.  Neither sound all that appealing.

UB is growing on me, though.  It’s not the prettiest city, but the buildings are low (like DC), so it’s very bright.   Traffic is the usual nightmare, but I already have a habit of walking into the street boldly, so no problem here.

I am surprisingly ok with the food too.  Fatty meat is not my favorite, but mixed up with steamed doughy noodles and it’s really not too bad.    The expat  community is very prominent too – I run into foreigners everywhere.  Frontier, indeed.

I’m settling into the office too – I have a desk, and an email address, and a new cell phone number (and even a local bank account).  I’m reviewing background documents now, and trying to figure out what I’m going to do while I’m here.  OSF is excited to have me, and I’m excited to help them out.