We are delivering the next “Short Interview” featuring Expats in Mongolia, who are working and enjoying live in Mongolia and UB city. We aim to share their experiences of living in Mongolia. Our next guest is Tudor Iliescu. Certainly, it starts with “Why Mongolia?"
Why you choose to come to Mongolia?
I learned about Mongolia’s growth so I decided to research some more. I work for a company that builds mobile apps in Romania and I thought maybe we can bring our expertise to this market. So it was mainly a business decision. But, as probably with a lot of people who decide to come here, it was also a personal decision: I really wanted to immerse myself in a completely different culture. Turns out… our cultures are not as different as I initially thought.
This year we are having hot and dry summer. How do you like the climate here?
Having lived and travelled only in Europe, the climate is a bit of challenge for me. The dry air and the pollution here are the only things I really can’t get used to.
How much did your expectations differ upon arrival to UB?
I always want to keep an open mind, so I was trying not to have preconceptions about this place. But to be honest I was expecting a slightly more traditional society. What I found is Mongolia seems to have more in common with the former Soviet block than East Asia. I’m by no means a good cultural observer so I hope I don’t offend anyone with my remarks, it’s just my bird’s-eye view of this place.
How is UB treating you so far?
Except for the harsh climate and pollution part, UB is spoiling me. I’ve been lucky enough to meet great people who have tried their best to make me feel welcome here. Also, I’ve been exploring the city and I’ve found some really interesting places: from museums and less known art galleries to cosy coffee shops and impressive landmarks.
What are your expectations of Naadam Festival?
I’ve been reading about it online, but getting tickets seems to be really complicated so I haven’t made any plans yet. Maybe I’ll go to the countryside – from what I’ve heard, things are more authentic there.
What would you advise for the person who has never been to Mongolia?
I think there are two main categories of people who come here: tourists and expats.
As a tourist, I would try to turn off the “tourist mode” and go off the beaten track. If you come to Mongolia just to stay in a typical western hotel, go to the big Chinggis statue, get on a camel and buy tons of souvenirs from the State Department Store, you’re completely missing out on what this country has to offer. Stay with a family, take the bus, shop in Naran Tuul, get lost, meet people, get out of your comfort zone! Allow Mongolia to unravel itself to you.
As for someone coming here as an expat, I’d advise to get out of the expat community bubble. Things here might work very different than in your home country, but try to be neutral, remain honest and perseverant. If you can contribute to improving things, do it. If not, don’t complain about everything - you are the one who decided to live here.
What would you have changed here?
For me, it’s really disheartening to see the same mistakes being made in all former communist countries. Mongolia seems to have the same power-hungry politicians that are relying on socialist and nationalist propaganda in order to take over the country’s resources, while compromising the economy, humiliating the poor and driving the young generation out. If I could, I would empower individuals and local communities to make decisions, instead of corrupt officials.
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