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Mongolia: Nomadic and Urban Cultures

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • The Adventure


  • Living Situation


  • Cultural Immersion


  • Program Administration


  • Health and Safety


  • Social Life


Reallyreally long review about a reallyreallyreally awesome place

Mongolia is a place I never thought I would travel to, and it’s also a place where I had the single best experience of my life. For a month in the summer of 2014, I was able to travel across one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, from the mountains to the steppe to the Gobi Desert. Along the way, I learned how to ride a horse and a camel, how to knit, how to play a song on the ukulele, how to speak some Mongolian, and how to communicate without language when attempts at using that Mongolian failed miserably. It sounds cliché, but I really did come home a different person, with a broader outlook on the world and a much better sense of independence.

Getting to know the city with my group helped us bond really quickly, and we all stayed super close throughout the trip. It was really cool to see how everyone accepted each other. We couldn’t have been more different, and it couldn’t have mattered less. The awesome thing about traveling with EIL is that I had the security of group leaders and friends around me without the trip feeling like a teen tour—we had freedom in a way other teen groups wouldn’t, like a weeklong homestay spent with just our host families and their herds.

The in-country staff in were friendly, funny, knowledgeable—basically just amazing. They set up language lessons, brought in performers to teach us throat singing and instrument playing, took us sightseeing around the city, helped us buy deels at the market, traveled with us as translators and guides, and gave honest information about the country that you can’t find in a tourist guidebook. Two Mongolian high school students traveled with us as well, and they became our best friends for the rest of the trip. It was really cool to learn about what high school was like for them compared to the US, and they helped us a lot when we struggled with the language.

My absolute favorite part of the trip was the horse trek from community service to the ger camp we were staying at for the night. Other awesome parts were painting a school alongside Mongolian students, taking an overnight train into the Gobi desert and exploring the monasteries and holy sites there, cooking with my host mother, and hiking up to places with the best views I’ve ever seen. Absolutely loved Mongolia, and I’d highly recommend the trip to anyone looking for an adventure!

Random disclaimer: If you wanna do EIL Mongolia, you have to be willing to do without running water whenever you leave the city, and that means the bushes might become your toilet and wet wipes will become your shower. It wasn’t a problem for anybody in my group and we all stayed clean and healthy, but it’s just something to be aware of in case that’s not your thing. Also, the diet in Mongolia is highly meat and dairy based, especially during the homestay. Again, just something to keep in mind for any vegetarians/vegans/dairy allergy people. Anyway, going to Mongolia was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I’m so so glad I got a chance to experience it.