Mongolia & Siberia: Nomadism, Geopolitics, and the Environment

Video and Photos

Students learning on site
Students learning on site
Students in discussion
Students in discussion
Man on a horse in Mongolia
Man on a horse in Mongolia
Students in Sukhbaatar Square, Ulaanbaatar
Students in Sukhbaatar Square, Ulaanbaatar
Students in Mongolia
Students in Mongolia

About

Examine Mongolia’s search for balance between environmental conservation and natural resource development on the doorstep of China and Siberia.

Live alongside nomadic herding communities and experience some of the most pristine natural environments in the world.

Mongolia offers a fascinating study of the interplay between foreign engagement, economic development, and natural resource utilization, in the context of a developing nation. Landlocked between Siberia and northern China, much of this rugged nation was historically isolated from global development and is today facing rapid economic and environmental change.

For the last four weeks of this program, you can choose either to complete an Independent Study Project or an internship. For the internship, you will be placed with a local Mongolian organization where you will gain real work experience related to the program’s theme and develop professional skills you can use in your career.

Highlights
  • Live in a ger with a nomadic herding family on the steppes of Mongolia.
  • Experience some of the most pristine natural environments in the world.
  • Visit Lake Baikal in Siberia, East Gobi and sacred sites in Kharkhorin, the ancient Mongolian capital
  • Learn to ride a horse and use horses for transportation.
  • Learn Mongolian - interact with your homestay family in the local language.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

100%
based on 3 reviews
  • Academics 7.7
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 10
  • Housing 10
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 3 of 3
Default avatar
Lucy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Go to Mongolia!!

I had an incredible, life-changing experience at SIT Mongolia. I decided to go on a whim, thinking that I wanted to experience something totally different from my life in the US; it turned out to be one of the best, best experiences of my life. The SIT Mongolia program is extremely well-run, and the teachers take you all over the country to explore. We visited the Gobi Desert in the south, a mining town in the North, the birthplace of Genghis Khan, and many other places. We had adventure after adventure. One of the best parts was staying with rural nomadic families: helping them herd, playing with the kids, helping them milk yaks, and playing cards. I also had a great experience doing my Independent Study Project. I studied trophy hunting, so I got to travel out to the west and interview hunters, as well as talking to government officials in the capital. The teachers offered great support throughout the process. Finally, I made truly incredible friends among my classmates. We had so, so much fun, and I'm so grateful for this experience.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Mongolians really do eat a lot of the sheep/goat! (But you don't have to eat everything they put in front of you.)
Read my full story
Default avatar
Jesse
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Mongolia: An Uncommon Study Abroad Destination

For the rest of your life, you likely be the one person people that lived in Mongolia.

That statement will have its own significance to you, too. Truly there is no place like Mongolia, and in my opinion, there are no study abroad programs like SIT in terms of effectively engaging their students with the local context. At one point, about 2000 miles from the nearest city while my host family yelled at me in Mongolian, and using the words I understood, I helped capture a camel. At another point, I was studying the nature nomadic labor in tourism using theories of capitalism. That's what you might do, too.

Academics:
3/5 difficulty, yet I learned so much. The academic rigor was lower than my average semester at college though the homestay and excursions offer different challenges unlike written/read assignments. You may get an A in the program with effort.

Housing:
My homestays were desirable. On excursions the accommodation left something to be desired, but that's Mongolia. If you want prim and proper the program's not for you anyways.

Food:
consistently enjoyed the food. Though I had no allergies or dietary restrictions, and I like meat. I did buy fruit and recommend my host family to cook more balanced meals, since this wasn't common. You will have to adjust if you eat salad and fruit daily.

Integration:
I felt the programs allows you to integrate as far as you can. You are put into the most intimate situations with Mongolian people, such as spending time on holidays, sleeping in a ger (just google it), living with a family. Of course, there's limits on "being local" given that you are not, but these are important ways to become as acquainted with Mongolia as possible. By the end of the program, I was conversing with taxi drivers and locals in the main square, bargaining for things, etc. Even today, one year and a half past the program, I was able to interact with a Mongolian family in their language, so the language component is there if you work hard. I know a significant amount of Mongolia history, politics, and economic change. The ISP is important for that. Also, I'm familiar with key sites and was able to interact, and you may maintain connections with groups like the Wild Conservation Society, the WWF, the United Nations, and more specific NGOS if you try.

What would you improve about this program?
I would go to Siberia -- Oh snap, the new and improved program does that...

I would eat more fruit and vegetables.
Default avatar
Martha
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great program!

Mongolia was a great place to study abroad. The people were very nice and welcoming! The subject matter covered during the program was interesting and was taught in fun ways; like going on excursions. The lecturers all gave their unique perspectives. The program staff were very helpful and answered any questions we might have had. They made us feel at home and were very understanding. My host families were AMAZING and made me feel like I was really apart of the family.
When we went on our excursions we had great times exploring the new surroundings and getting to know new people and finding good places to eat! Every excursion was different and was fun in their own way.
Overall I had a great time in Mongolia with this program and highly recommend other people to apply to it.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The most unfamiliar thing I ate was Aaruul; dried milk curds.