I Left a Piece of my Heart in the Horidol Saridag Mountains January 12, 2019

By (University of Vermont) - abroad from 08/22/2018 to 11/12/2018 with

Round River Conservation Studies - Mongolia Conservation Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
We nailed field work, designed full fledged research projects and successfully executed them. We learned about other lenses through which people view and interact with the land and that really changed my perspective.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The courses were stellar and unbelievably engaging! The discussions were rich and often run by students and permeated our everyday life in Mongolia.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Our instructors were great to work and live with and were super attentive to our group and well being. The park staff and rangers we worked with there were so kind and their hospitality was so meaningful. Everyone there went above and beyond to make us feel at home, to teach us lessons, and share their strong sense of comunity.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Having your own tent space is so great and the gers we cooked, studied, and hung out in were so well made and warm.

* Food:

Our cook was amazing, she is not only talented at cooking delicious meals up out of limited ingredients, but she was also a dear teacher and friend to us. Meals in Mongolia are heavy on meat and fatty which is great but we did miss the green veggies.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Through our work for the local protected areas we worked with the rangers and their families and were super grateful to be welcomed into their homes and brought under their wing. I appreciated that they were so eager to teach us how to stay warm, cook, travel, and live like Mongolians, which is a point of pride for them.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Yes, we received assistance through global rescue.

* Safety:

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

This semester was everything I needed, it was motivating, inspiring, and tough all at the same time. We were not just immersed in the Darhad Valley's towns, but also the mountains. The lessons the rangers and land taught us were irreplaceable. I have left this semester with more empathy, patience, and grit than I expected and now have a better sense of what I want to do with the next few years.

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)

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

We began to pick up some Mongolian on the course in an organic and self driven way. While it was not for credit, I really came a long way in communicating with our Mongolian friends.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Other
* 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?
  • Stellar instructors and classmates
  • Respecting the land
  • Partnering with the rangers
* What could be improved?
  • More independence
  • Better solar power for charging research laptops
  • Students from even more schools and backgrounds
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I understood the weather better.

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.