Sunday, May 31, 2015

Peace Corps- Mongolia

May 31, 2015
Last Tuesday, after living at home in Nashville for nearly a year, I embarked on a plane to San Francisco for two days of Peace Corps Pre-Service Training. I went with three bags and a backpack, the contents of which will allegedly sustain me for two years of Mongolian living, so packing was a bit of a challenge.
I arrived at the hotel in San Francisco about 30min shy of our first meeting, so I immediately went to my room to put down my bags and take off my pants. Luckily, my roommate did not choose this time to appear. I was told to bring plenty of business casual clothes for working in, but I soon learned that dressing in business casual is basically expected at all times. So I changed and went downstairs to fill out more paperwork. Immediately, I had to be social and outgoing, and I somehow managed it because I was able to make a few friends.
my group, so about half of us
On Wednesday and Thursday of Pre-Service Training, all 74 of the Mongolia26 team was split in two and had various sessions from 8:15am to about 5:30pm. Friends were made, presentations were seen, information was leaned.
Friday morning, at 4:30 am, we met in the hotel lobby and made our way to the airport.  Surprisingly, we were not accompanied by anyone from the Peace Corps on our flights, so we were kind of just left to our own devices. Our flight to Seoul didn’t actually leave until 10:30, but with such a large group we were given plenty of time in case things went wrong. 

horrible, no tv plane
The plane for this flight, which was a bit over 12hours, was quite old and didn’t have TVs on the back of each seat, which, honestly, I didn’t even realize was still a possibility for international flights. So once I realized that I couldn’t entertain myself with movies and tv for next half a day, while incased in a metal tube at an absurd altitude while traveling across the Pacific Ocean, saying I was “disappointed” was a bit of an understatement. Obviously I survived, but it was a close call.
We got to Seoul and spent about 5hours at the airport. The Seoul Airport is lovely and should set the standard for airports across the world. I was able to eat, drink, and nap, and the other half of the group took showers. Thankfully, we flew Korean Air to Ulaan Baatar, which was another 3hour trip, but so much more luxurious compared to the United travesty from earlier. I lucked out and didn’t have anyone sitting next to me, so I just laid down and slept the whole flight, which was almost a shame since there was a solid movie selection. 

sign at the UB airport

Finally, we reached Mongolia around 12:30am, very early Sunday morning. So somehow I lost a day in there, but I’m just not going to think about it too hard. We were met at the airport by a lot of staff from the PC Office, and after collecting our bags we loaded onto buses and drove another hour to a large hotel about an hour out of Ulaan Baatar. Absolutely exhausted, I went to bed around 2:30am.
Today, which is Sunday, May 31st, we didn’t have to be at brunch until 10, so we were able to actually get some sleep. After that we went into more info sessions that were more geared towards Mongolia, but still pretty broad. We had some more medical and immigration paperwork, but it got done in alphabetical order, so I got out in pretty good time.
This afternoon a bunch of us went out on a walk around the hotel, which turned into a surprise hike. We went up a big hill with a trail, which ended in a gorgeous overlook. However, Julie (my roommate) just came back into the room and told me that hiking has officially been banned. So there’s that.
Tomorrow we have more info sessions and I think I get a couple more shots. On Tuesday we go to a city called Darkhan where we’ll eventually be sent off into our home stays. Since Health is the smallest sector, my group will stay in a fairly close proximity and stay together for training during the next 11 weeks.
Hopefully I can post again before we get into home stays, because then I really won’t know how frequently I get internet access. I’d also like to apologize for the quality of this post. I haven’t blogged since I left India and apparently it’s a mindset I need to get back into. Until next time!

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