In the landlocked state of Utah, there is often too little exposure to foreign cultures. The objective here is to stimulate an interconnection between two societies. This week, we have the privilege of being enlightened in regard to the Mongolian culture by Selenge Ulziibayar, a UVU nursing student who left Mongolia for the U.S. one year ago.
Prior to arriving in the U.S., she developed her notions of America based upon various movies that showed big cities like New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and assumed all of America was similar to those metropolitan environments.
“Utah is very special, but it was not the America I expected,” said Ulziibayar.
Coming directly to Utah was a bit of a disappointment because it wasn’t what she had envisioned, but she is here now and is loving it, although she still loves and cherishes the Mongolian culture, which she is delighted to share with everyone.
Mongolia is a country located in central Asia which shares boundaries with China, Russia and Kazakhstan.
When asked what kind of music Mongolia has to offer, Ulziibayar said that American music is global, so she listened to a lot of American music when she was in home, but she recommends a Mongolian band called A Sound and a particular track called “Crying.”
“I think they sing pretty well and they sing in English so everyone should listen to them; you will like them,” she says.
She recommends another Mongolian R&B artist called “Bold,” and particularly his track called “Crazy Fashion.” Ulziibayar feels that even though the song is not in English, people can still enjoy the beat and be exposed to Mongolian language and music.
She admits that while her home country is known for its beautiful dresses and clothing made from wool or cashmere, most fashion trends found in the United States are also found in Mongolia, especially among the youth. Cashmere, along with mining, are the key features of the country’s economy.
“I saw a girl on campus this semester wearing attire made from cashmere. She looked so beautiful and I felt happy,” Ulziibayar said, urging anyone that comes across clothing made from cashmere to purchase it, assuring that it is perfect for the winter.
As for food, she notes that American cuisine is completely different from what she is used to in Mongolia. Ulziibayar’s favorite Mongolian delicacy is called Khuushuur. It consists of meat covered with dough made from flour. Either beef or mutton is mixed with spices such as onion, garlic, salt, soy sauce and others. Khuushuur is then fried in oil until the dough turns golden brown.
The Mongolian New Year celebration that takes place in February is the holiday Ulziibayar misses most.
“It is a huge holiday that is celebrated for three days with various fun activities for each day. On the first day, part of the tradition is that people visit the older members of the family because they are respected and it is custom that they have to be the first to be visited in that year,” Ulziibayar said. “We eat lots of food in those three days because we believe that we have to be full throughout the year, and those first three days symbolize how the rest of the year goes.”
These activities bring family together and make the New Year a year of family reunion.
“I love my culture and I have been able to keep [it] alive by mingling with other Mongolians here and participating in global engagement week,” Ulziibayar said.
Try some of the things unique to Mongolian culture and keep following the international student column for information on countries around the world.