Six students from the University of Pittsburgh Honors College trek across Mongolia in search of illumination, perspective, and the perfect cup of Yak-milk tea.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Good Morning, Ulaan Bataar!

    To begin, sorry. I haven't posted for a while, and I understand that might have been hard on the three people that read my posts.
    I've arrived safely in UB (you-BEE), which you might have gathered from the three preceding posts. The apartments are great, very roomy and comfortable. Situated directly across the street from the Chinngis Khaan hotel, the location is incredibly convenient and provides an excellent waypoint for the city's taxis.
    We've begun our Mongolian language class. When we were learning when to use "No," and "not," I was transported back to eighth grade Spanish class, where during the lesson on ser vs. estar I would choose one at random and hope for the best. Not surprisingly, I have relied on the patented "choose one at random and hope for the best," method throughout my academic career. Our professor, Munkh, is excellent. Though it is a very difficult language to learn, I leave every class feeling like my radio is slightly better tuned to tap into the ebb and flow of lives and stories that buzz around me as I walk down the streets of Ulaan Bataar. Unfortunately, Mongolian language class has done nothing to help me tap into the ebbs and flows of melodrama and run-on sentences, respectively.
    The other day, I went on a strolling tour of the city. The National Children's Day festival gave us the day off from school, so we were free to explore. At one point, I was attempting to get to the City Library when I asked a passerby for directions. They spoke exclusively Mongolian and French. By cobbling together my limited knowledge of Mongolian, cognates between French and Spanish, and some French phrases I remembered from a science-fiction book about telepathic French-Canadians (No, really), we were able to navigate to the City Library. Only to find it closed for Children's Day.
    I think that's all for this one, folks. Keep reading, thanks for your e-mails. Five fifty five and all's well.