Language school
on Sarah in Mongolia (Mongolia), 06/Nov/2009 08:20, 34 days ago
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And so to Language school! Our course is known as the survival course and we were more concerned about surviving the course than learning to survive in Mongolia.The school bus picked us up at 8.20 outside the guest house every day. We then had group lessons in the morning, lunch provided by the language school and one on one conversation lessons in the afternoon until 3.30. We still had meetings in the afternoon at VSO.I didnt struggle too much as I had listened to the language CD before I came to Mongolia, others hadnt had the time, and I also took advantage of the girls in our hostel who speak fluent Mongolian to practice on! The poor girls must be sick of us all!It is interesting having a vague idea of the alphabet and being able to read some of the signs on the buildings. It is also a good way to practice. At least the pronunciation of Mongolian words is ok once you know the sounds. There are however many vowel tones and phrases and it is pretty tough!The evenings involved dinners out including hamburgers at the Budweiser pub, movie nightOn Tuesday we were straight to the British Embassy (3.30) for a talk on the security and political situation in Mongolia. It was a really interesting talk and I was really interested in the political situation, the riots and everything. However it was a bit of an overlap with a previous session and we were pretty tired from the language school. Unfortunately Sarah and I had to leave early to make it to VSO for 4.30pm to look at an apartment. We were a little late but we did get to see the apartment. It was quite nice with modern and new furnishingsOn wednesday I had a day off language school. Instead I had an Education Network meeting with the other VSO education volunteers. In the morning we were going to be based at my employers building so I was trying to make sure I looked nice. However as I went to dry my hair the power went off! It was also preety cold so I couldn’t spend the day with wet hair. So I shoved everything into my bag and ran down to VSO, about 20 minutes away and dried my hair there. The other vols did laugh at me but I did not freeze to death!My employer, MEA, have a lovely office, really good facilities and warm! I was introduced to everyone and I cannot remember any names, but they all seem really, really nice and I am excited to be working there. The morning started with an introduction by each of the volunteers of their placement and what they were doing, I was selected to go first just to introduce myself! Everyone seems to be doing interesting things, but they are all very education focussed– teachers and teacher trainers, whereas I am not from an education background and didn’t understand a lot of the terminology.Next was an introduction to MEA which was really interesting and very beneficial for me to hear before I start there! However they are already doing lots of fantastic stuff, I am not really sure what they need me for! I am going to try and meet with my boss who gave the talk (in English!) and see what exactly the role is.There was then a talk on pre-school education in Mongolia which was interesting, but a bit too technical for me!Then it was too the vegetarian food which I didn’t really like, but the conversation was good! This is a really great group of people.In the afternoon we went back to VSO and had a few discussions on different issues faced by education volunteers and I was not really sure of what was going on, but it sounds like there are some issues with placement objectives and gauging how much achievement there has been.On Friday we headed to the Steppe Inne, the bar at the British Embassy which is the only one currently open after 9pm. Because of swine flu all restaurants, bars, clubs etc have to be closed by 9pm! It is crazy. Because the embassy is British soil they can stay open later but still it only opens til 9.30. The government have also closed all the primary and secondary schools for 2 weeks to allow for cleaning and to prevent the spread of H1N1. It is insane because all the parents send their children to kindergarten instead because they have no babysitters. SO there is lots of germ sharing going on. To get to the British Embassy Sarah and I took a taxi on our own! We flagged down a car and jumped in– taxi Mongolian style. He didn’t quite understand my directions but I had my cheat sheet and through directions and hand signals.After the bar we managed to get into a restaurant about 8.30 and were not kicked out until 9.15 or so, but it must be incredibly difficult for bars and clubs to close at 9pm. But it was decent Indian naan that I had, the others enjoyed their Indian food. There was then another taxi ride where my directions got better. In fact both taxi men were lovely, neither were taxi companies but both very easy to deal with and direct so hopefully taxi rides will not be too much of a trial. We then arrived at an ex-pat party full of Americans, British, Austrialians and non-Mongolians! It was a great party and I met some really nice people including an American who had spent some time in Northern Ireland so it was nice to talk some Northern Irish politics. Stefan was good enough to walk me home at 12.30 as we had an early start the next day.