“My First Week
I have now been in Ulaanbaatar for one week, and I have started my internship at the local English newspaper, UB Post as a journalist intern. Everyone has been exceptionally welcoming and friendly. I’ve found that I’m not offered too many article ideas, but whenever I pitch one to my Editor, she has said on each occasion that it would be perfect for the newspaper; you need to make a point of finding work to do. So far I have completed a large feature on conservation in Mongolia, including a lengthy interview with a member of a conservation NGO, which was something of a challenge since I have never conducted an interview before. It is going to be published next week.
My home stay family have been amazing, providing a source of much needed comfort for a teenager alone in a foreign country. They have had several volunteers stay with them previously, so are familiar with the drill and have proved very helpful in recommending tourist spots to visit as well as areas of the city that I should avoid. One issue at my home stay has been the food; the Mongolian cuisine is entirely different to that in the West and it has proved quite an adjustment. The diet consists of a lot of meat, including horse, which I struggled to grabble with eating. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with their proficiency in English, particularly since I have had a couple of issues with the language barrier in the city. I look forward to seeing how the remaining three weeks of my placement go!
My Second Week
It is hard to believe, but I am almost half way through my placement here in Ulaanbaatar. It feels like I just stepped off the plane yesterday and it is what everyone keeps on saying; your time here goes ridiculously quickly.
I had my first article published in The UB Post yesterday. There really is nothing similar to the thrill you get when you first see your name in print for an actual publication. Quite a lot of people in our office are unwell, so the workload has increased as we need to generate more articles to compensate for those who aren’t here. I don’t mind it though; I’m really enjoying the process involved and the satisfaction you feel when you meet your deadline on time and feel like you have done an article well.
The main thing I am still struggling with is the diet. There is just so much meat! I was speaking with another volunteer and she says she has had mutton for breakfast every morning since she arrived. I haven’t seen a vegetable at all, except for the one night where we had carrots in a horse stir fry. It is quite an adjustment, and one I have still yet to entirely make.
My Final Week
I now have just over a week left in Mongolia. I cannot believe how quickly it has gone! At work the newspaper just celebrated it’s 20th anniversary of publication, so things have been hectic, going through the archives to pull articles and images for a features on the newspaper’s history. The standard of work this past week has had to be second to none in preparation. I have started work on a new article after I just finished an opinionated piece on crime in Mongolia.
Now I am turning my attention to an article on the Mongolian diet compared with that of the West, since it was something of a culture shock for me having to eat things such as horse meat for dinner. I discovered why the diet is so protein heavy here; it is because so much of the land cannot be used for agriculture, so the nomads have always been forced to rely on livestock for their diet of meat and milk.
I have planned a trip with a few other volunteers to get out of Ulaanbaatar and see some of the steppe that lies beyond the city’s limits. I’m excited to see the renowned natural landscapes of Mongolia!”