Mongolia: Nomadic Culture & Outdoor Adventure

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About

Land in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital. You’ll experience urban Mongolia, and take lessons in throat singing and playing the morin khuur. Get to know the city and take Mongolian language lessons. Visit Buddhist pilgrimage sites and study Mongolian arts. You will complete a community service project, such as teaching English to local students. Trek on horseback to the ancient, pristine Lake Khövsgöl. Witness horsemanship, wrestling, and archery competitions at the Naadam festival, the largest festival in Mongolia.

Travel to Mongolia’s vast grasslands to experience rural life during a homestay with a nomadic family, where you will live in a traditional ger, a round tent. Help your host family tend livestock and learn how to cook meals, prepare dairy products, and ride on horseback.

Your Experiment concludes in the Gobi Desert, where you’ll witness its natural beauty and see Buddhist temples. Venture into the desert on camelback and sleep in a ger under the desert sky.

Highlights
  • Outdoor Activity
  • Community Service
  • Language
  • Camping
  • Homestay

Questions & Answers

Reviews

99%
based on 14 reviews
  • Growth 9.6
  • Support 9.9
  • Fun 9.9
  • Housing 9.2
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 1 - 14 of 14
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Katie
10/10

The best month of the year

I had the most amazing experience, I made new friends and learned about a culture I never really thought about. I expanded my views of the world and how even people living in the same country can have different ideas, habits, and beliefs based of of where they live and what they have access to. We got to ride horses, stay in gers (yurts), ride camels, visit monasteries, help out at a school, and learn the language. I also made 15 new life long friends, we had our ups and downs like all groups do and came out stronger and more united because of the conflict we resolved. This program has changed my life and me in the best ways possible

How can this program be improved?
A better packing list is the biggest thing I can think of. We were all unprepared for the weather.
No, I don't recommend this program
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Rosie
10/10

I loved going to Mongolia

I loved going to Mongolia. It was super fun and interesting. Everyone was super nice and all the activities we did were really cool. Mongolia is an amazing country with beautiful scenery, interesting history and the kindest people. Some highlights was going to the capital, working with students, going to the Gobi desert, and the homestay. Getting to know another country was really fun and seeing both the similarities and differences between the US and Mongolia was really interesting.

How can this program be improved?
It was great!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Faith
10/10

I had the time of my life

My trip to Mongolia was the first time I've left the East Coast of the United States. I was so scared, but as soon as I met the 15 other teens who are sharing the same fears as me I was at ease. The country was unbelievably beautiful and unique. I felt truly welcomed by the leaders and in country partners. This trip was truly the best experience of my life and I wish it could've lasted longer.

How can this program be improved?
This trip could only be improved by a more comfortable seats for the international flights.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Anders
10/10

Why I'm Glad I Went to Mongolia

For everyone nervously considering whether they should take the plunge on the Experiment's program, I would really recommend that you do. While I'm contributing to it, the pool of online information you'll find won't give you the full view of the trip that I remember searching for. It's a big step to commit to something like this, but know that everyone on the 2018 trip had to go through this process, and I don't think anyone regretted their choice to enroll.

Worries you may have (all that I can think of):

-Living conditions:
We had pretty nice accommodations. We were in the Park Hotel in UB for about a week total (this could change for all I know, but I expect what you would end up with would be similar). Rooms (of 2) had a small bathroom and shower. We could get hot water most of the time. The beds, at Park and all other locations, were fine and easy to fall asleep on after packed days. We also had showers in Sainshand (Gobi location).

-Bathrooms:
In UB, Sainshand, and a few other places, we had standard flushing toilets.
Much of the rest of the time, we had simple outhouses.
At our homestay, we had no formal bathroom buildings. The world was our toilet.
I, of course, can't speak for everyone on my trip, but I didn't have much trouble with any of this.

-Food:
Mongolian food is pretty good. It's pretty simple, usually meat and grain. We eat at some restaurants in UB. We took a bunch of meals in private dining halls when we were staying outside of a city. We usually got something like Lipton tea with almost every meal. Portion sizes are huge.

-Water:
Though the temperature obviously couldn't be controlled, we had good, storebought, or otherwise clean, water for almost all of the trip. The one exception was in the homestay when we would generally be drinking milk tea with our families. The water situation shouldn't be a much of a deterrent.

-Horses:
We had the opportunity to ride horses with the group and at our homestays. Technically no one had to ride, but no one in our group left without doing a fair amount of horse riding. The horses were generally pretty relaxed and first-time riders didn't have much trouble.

-Language:
I'd certainly recommend some language preparation, but don't be worried if you don't know much/anything before you come to the program. We were adequately prepared with simple, functional language. My small Mongolian-English dictionary was very useful for more complex communication.

Highlights:

-Homestay:
The real deal. Living and participating in an ancient way of life. This was the greatest degree of immersion that we experienced. My host family understood that I didn't really know what I was doing in their lifestyle, but worked to include me, giving me whatever simple tasks that I could understand. I had some contact from the group throughout, but that week was mostly a process of learning and growth in a totally new environment.

-The Group:
Sharing new and challenging experiences brought the group so close together. Even after just the plane ride and first day in the country, I could tell that we were developing connections. By our last days, we had bonded an amazing amount. No matter how different my fellow Experimenters seemed, I found that I could more or less relate to everyone. We could all find some sort of common ground. Over a month, a group of people I'd never met became trusted friends.

-Everything else:
Our travel took us from North to East to South and gave us many interesting opportunities on the way. Our itinerary brought us many new experiences.

I don't know what history you have with travel, but this trip was very special to me because it offered a completely new and unique experience. It truly is hard to put into words how important and life-changing this trip was, but I can't recommend it more.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Angelika
9/10

Learning to feel comfort in the unknown.

During my month with The Experiment, I learned first hand how to travel effectively. Having minimal international travel experience before the Mongolia trip, I went in with low expectations. Stepping off the plane, I was immediately enveloped by the new culture and fully immersed in learning the language. My group leaders were warm, supportive, and thoughtful throughout our experiences. My fellow experimenters and I became very close & our relationships grew immensely during our month together. We considered ourselves an experiment family and have formed plans to meet up in the near future. The experiences we shared stretched each and every one of us in a way you can't fully understand without having been there. A few of my favorite moments from the trip were when we as a group reflected and questioned what we had learned or experienced. Theres a special comfort knowing that wherever you go in the world, the unity & friendships you share with other people (wether you speak the same language or not) is remembered. The most valuable skill I retained from my travels was finding comfort in the unknowns. As Chris Burkard said “if everything goes perfect you walk away completely unchanged”. This has been true and applicable to all facets of my everyday life in the US. I understand the fears that many teens & parents have about traveling abroad. I can't recommend enough that you push past those fears and choose The Experiment in International Living. The ways in which I grew as an individual, the people I interacted with, and the experience of Mongolia were truly priceless.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Raechel
10/10

What I was able to experience in Mongolia

Though Mongolia is one of the hardest programs for the Experiment in International Living, it is one of the most freeing and satisfying experiences of my life. By going into another country where you don't know anyone, you've never heard the language let alone speak it, you are putting yourself way out there. In this program you do that and you have to deal with different food, hygiene standards and cultural norms. This experience, which I was extremely nervous to be a part of at first, shaped me into a more open and confident person. I am not very social but I quickly became comfortable around the group I was with, learned that putting myself out in the world is beneficial and I should do it more often. I learned to make mistakes and be okay with that. I was able to put myself out there during a relatively mentally stressful first few days because I had to do that to get anywhere and not feel isolated. I also became more comfortable with people entering my "personal bubble" because in Mongolia, personal space is not a thing and don't expect them to understand what it is.

Mongolia is a very beautiful country. On the first day of orientation in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, we were told that Mongolia is known as the land of the blue sky. The sky in Mongolia is the bluest and biggest sky you could ever see. At night when you weren't in a soum center or city, you could see the Milky Way. There were animal everywhere (which was amazing.) The openness, of the people and landscape, mixed with the natural world and way of life made Mongolia one of the most freeing places mentally and physically.

Mongolia is an amazing country to visit with this program, you learn so much about yourself and a larger culture that is vastly different from the United States. You learn to better appreciate what you have and the connections you can make with strangers.

How can this program be improved?
The packing list was not helpful in some cases. I thought that I wasn't able to pack shorts and had to wear capri pants or long pants the entire time due to the countries culture being conservative, this assumption did not hold true and was excess stress. There could also be a more information on how you won't have running water or electricity for a while. It would be great if you could recommend bringing a travel pillow too.
Yes, I recommend this program
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AGUSTIN
10/10

Mongolia

I had an amazing experience in Mongolia this summer. I wanted to be immersed in a culture different from mine and the program really focused on the Mongolian way of life, traditions, and customs. The experience was amazing, Mongolia is a beautify and i would go back in the blink of an eye. I had a wonderful time and all the group leaders were extremely friendly and funny and over all wonderful people. I can not imagine having the same amount of fun as i did with other leaders.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Abigail
10/10

Mongolia

Every minute of my time spent in Mongolia was beyond special. We woke up every day under an endless blue sky and set off on another adventure. Through this trip I met people I will always share connections with and did things I never thought possible. My group made it so there was never a dull moment, and our leaders were always there for us no matter what we needed. This trip taught me the power of immersion and the beauty of adventure, from sunrise hikes to herding with my host family I gained a life time of truly incredible memories. I would recommend this trip to anyone seeking a once and a life time adventure, with the willingness to try a boat load of new things.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Hilary
10/10

Milestone in My Life

Mongolia with the Experiment was absolutely fantastic. The group environment fostered, the activities arranged and the casual adaptation they are able to organize is beyond fantastic. I never felt alone and I was was engaged. The added bonus of connecting so deeply with my group members through their activities and share out moments really made, even a person like me who is usually very shy in connecting with others, available and open. I would highly recommend to anyone seeking adventure and a learning experience that will both rejuvenate who you are and make you a better person.

How can this program be improved?
I don't think that was anything I would say needs to be improved. Maybe a longer stay time to allow for more lax or free time bu for the most part everything was fairly well coordinated.
Yes, I recommend this program
Abby
10/10

Mongolia

I really loved my time in Mongolia. I was a little apprehensive at first, but once I got to the country and started experience the culture with my group, I discovered how much fun and beautiful the country could be. My group was amazing - I met people I know I will stay close to for a very long time. The group leaders kept us healthy and safe, but weren't afraid to get dirty and have fun with us, so I think they had the perfect balance. The trip itself was more than I could've imagined, no matter how cheesy that sounds. It will really push your boundaries, but in a way that you to. I did things on this trip I never thought I was capable of, until I was there and I had done it, while still having fun. I felt like that was really special. My favorite part of the trip was our time in Khuvsgul. Playing card games and making buuz with local students and taking morning hikes is something I would do again, anytime. I would recommend this trip to anyone looking for a different experience and a real adventure!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Anyergui
10/10

My Mongolian Moment

I had an amazing time in Mongolia and learned various things about myself throughout the journey. Mongolia was very beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in the rich and diverse culture. There was never a dull moment, everyday there was a new adventure and there were always activities to do. I had a wonderful time getting to know the people I traveled with and we had an amazing group dynamic that made my time there much more enjoyable. One of the challenges I faced in the country was getting adjusted to their food, but being open-minded and having the willingness to try new things is definitely beneficial during the trip. I would recommend the trip to anyone whose thinking about going.

How can this program be improved?
This was a remarkable program and not many things need to be altered. One small improvement that could be made is for there to have been more in depth language lessons because a few of the things I learned weren't very useful when at the home stay. Other than that I truly loved my experience in Mongolia.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Hua Lin
10/10

The Land of the Blue Sky

During the first lessons we had in Mongolia at the SIT office, we lame that the country was also proudly referred to as the "Land of the Blue Sky." As the trip continued from there on, I truly experienced the authenticity to that phrase through 4 o' clock morning hours to see the sun rise and just looking out from the hills in the Gobi Desert.

From traveling to the ger camp in Khovsgul (largest freshwater lake in Mongolia) through a 5 hour horse trek to doing community service with Mongolian students, I was able to take in parts of the culture through everything that we did. In this experience, I not only learned what it meant to look out for myself and grow in my independence, but I also learned about teamwork and looking out for my whole group. By traveling as a group and doing stuff together day in and day out, I really came out of my shell in just a few days and made such great friends on the trip that just made the whole experiment all the more amazing.

Mongolia truly is a big and a whole new different country that has a lot of things to offer. As my group and I traveled to the different regions of the land, we came to understand that even if we are all under the same blue sky, each part of Mongolia had different things to offer. The weather changes are drastic and all of the sudden there can be a sand storm with rain coming down, however, that just makes the experience all the more real and enjoyable when the sun came out.

The part of this trip that made the biggest difference in the world was knowing that you could find trust in the leaders from the program. Both in country leaders and from the states leaders had great experiences in the country and were able to answer all sorts of questions that we had(and trust me, it was a lot). One of the greatest memories was just sitting around in a circle with all the students and all of the leaders as we went around telling funny stories and horror stories under the beautiful night sky where stars were actually visible. The dedication that they showed us is something that is truly unforgettable.

Honestly, who can ever say that they went to Mongolia and did all these things? I can genuinely say that I fell in love with the land and traveling and I can't wait till the next time I go back.

How can this program be improved?
Perhaps for the packing list to specify bringing warmer clothes and warning potential students that this is a program without running water or electricity.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Pearl
10/10

The Journey That Changed My Life

Going to Mongolia was the best thing could have happened to me this summer. I grew so much as a person and really learned to appreciate the life I have in America. We got to explore the capital city and saw a new part of it each day we were there. It was amazing to the see how each region in Mongolia was so different from each other yet all had the same central values. The homestay was the most fun for me! My family was awesome and I loved helping them with their daily chores like herding sheep, milking cows and helping to cook! This was an experience that I will never forget and will truly cherish for the rest of my life.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Sophie
10/10

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. 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. I came back with a broader outlook on the world and a much better sense of independence.

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 to explore 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!

My group: We came from all across the US, coast to coast. Getting to know the city helped us bond really quickly, and we stayed super close throughout the trip. It was really cool how everybody accepted one another. We couldn't have been more different, and it couldn't have mattered less. The awesome thing about traveling with EIL was 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. We had two group leaders, and both treated us like friends and equals while still keeping us all safe.

In-country staff: friendly, helpful, 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.

Things to keep in mind: 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 will become your toilet and wet wipes will become your shower. It wasn't a problem for anyone in my group, and we all stayed clean and healthy. Also, the diet in Mongolia is highly meat and dairy based, especially during the homestay. Personally, these little difficulties just helped me learn more about self-sufficiency and using only what you need, but it's just stuff to be aware of.

Things I wish I'd brought more of: wet wipes, wet wipes, wet wipes. Wet wipes. Also,really do make sure to pack sun protection shirts because a lot of the trip is spent outside. A sturdy pair of shoes is super duper important too. Culturally, long pants are preferred for both boys and girls, so lightweight hiking pants became my go-to thing. Basically, it's not gonna be a fashion show, nobody's going to care what anyone's wearing, and you'll probably get paint or dirt or sweat on everything, so forget about style and focus on function. Also, I highly advise bringing a journal--I love looking back into mine now, and it was a great way to make sure I remember everything years from now.

Basically: Come to Mongolia! It was absolutely amazing.

Yes, I recommend this program

About The Experiment in International Living

The Experiment in International Living provides 3-, 4-, and 5-week summer programs for high school students who want to connect deeply and engage meaningfully with the richness and complexities of another country.

Programs equip students not only...