Best Decision Made in College! December 19, 2018

By (SUNY - College of Environmental Science & Forestry) - abroad from 06/25/2018 to 08/06/2018 with

Round River Conservation Studies - Mongolia Conservation Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained experience with wildlife monitoring techniques, the research experience, backpacking, camping, and travelling abroad. The program was definitely worthwhile and I highly recommend it.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The courses are well designed to give you an introduction to conservation and biological field techniques. They were challenging, but not so challenging that you couldn't enjoy the experience. The bulk of the program focuses on field and cultural experiences, not academics! RRCS does an excellent job of providing all the resources you need for academics, even when you're in the middle of the field.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The RRCS instructors in Mongolia were excellent, as were all of the Mongolian park staff that we got to work with while we were there!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We lived in tents, which is not for everyone. But if you have a sense of adventure and are willing to spend time outdoors, then housing is not a problem! Round River can provide advice on tents and backpacking gear, if needed.

* Food:

Our cook was phenomenal, and the family-style eating at every meal allowed for bonding between the students, instructors, and every other person that we worked with in Mongolia. While vegetarians were accommodated, it's important to note that meat and dairy products are an important part of Mongolian culture and will make up a bulk of the diet there, along with grains. Fruits and vegetables were limited.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Very well integrated. We got to know the Mongolians that we were working with, and we had the ability to experience the Mongolian holiday of Naadam.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

This is difficult. You are in the middle of the back country for the majority of the program. That being said, Round River is well prepared for any sort of health care issue that comes up. The instructors are Wilderness First Responder certified, and are prepared with first aid kits that can be used to treat illnesses and injuries. Round River also provides evacuation insurance as part of the tuition and fees that you pay.

* Safety:

Mongolia felt safe, as long as you continued to use common sense. The instructors kept us safe in the city and in the back country.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

This program was one of the best decisions that I made in college, and the experience was so phenomenal that I would gladly do it again (and on that note, I absolutely want the chance to return to Mongolia). Round River's staff was knowledgeable, the students were fun to be with, and the experiences were unforgettable. I enjoyed being able to gain hands-on experience with wildlife monitoring field techniques, while also getting the opportunity to experience Mongolian culture.

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

We paid tuition and fees to Round River, and this covered most of the costs in-country. Personal budgeting was only for souvenirs.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Most weeks, I spent $0. Spent $200 overall.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? There aren't many money saving tips for this program--besides the tuition and fees, all other additional expenses come from purchasing souvenirs during your last day or two in the capital. Plan what souvenirs you intent to buy and make sure you remember how the conversion rate.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The research
  • The instructors (including local park staff)
  • The students
* What could be improved?
  • Academics felt rushed at times
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Mongolia is an amazing country. It is worth visiting.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.