Monday, March 26, 2012

The day of our first Mongolian class

In the morning we went to look at an apartment for rent in our building. It's small, and the kitchen needs work, but we later decided to take it. Mongolian apartments don't come with things Australians think apartments should come with. E.g. there are no kitchen units - no cupboards, no bench, sometimes no sink installed; ours has a sink but it's no good and will need to be ripped out anyway. But this is all okay, because this is just how things operate here - you just get someone to come and build your kitchen exactly how you say to fit your kitchen.

After visiting this apartment we went to the office for another building just nearby, having heard a rumour about a place that was fully furnished; they didn't know anything about it. Later it turned out that the apartment we had heard about was a sub-let. This wasn't a great option so we went with option 1.

In the afternoon we went to our first Mongolian classes. We have two teachers, Bayarmaa and Olonbayar. Bayarmaa is quite well known and really good. We went over the alphabet and sounds of Mongolian, and some basic greetings. There are four o/u sounds that all sound quite similar to Australian ears and are hard to pick up. Also, if you mispronounce 'Hi, how are you?' you might be telling someone to go to the bathroom. In the second lesson had the other teacher, who presumed we had mastered everything from lesson 1, and proceeded to teach us cursive Mongolian/Cyrillic, as well as the numbers. Her pronunciation was less crisp, and distinguishing vowel sounds was quite tough. Pray for us as we get going with this tricky language.

Rachel pointing to our language school
A special treat for dinner was home-made pizza. Pizza is a bit of a craze in Mongolia at the moment. You can even buy individually wrapped slices at the supermarket. But ours was tasty.

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