Last week I changed khasaa’s. Now, I live in my principal’s yard. He’s in his thirties, with a wife and two children- a seven year old boy and a five year old girl. A cousin lives with them, along with a random thirty something male whom I assume is related in the usual distant Mongolian way.
I’ve only been living here for a week, but I’m already starting to feel like I belong. I see them almost every day, popping into their house to say hello or ask for a favor. At first, I dragged myself over there- knowing it would be good for me to socialize. If anything, I needed the language practice. It surprised me today when I went over there just because… I wanted to. I didn’t need anything and had already fulfilled my daily Mongolian conversation quota. But I craved that connection, the presence of others occupying the same room as me.
Mongolia is a communal culture- I have yet to meet a Mongolian introvert. When Mongolians discover I live alone, the first question (and there always is a question) is “are you lonely?” followed by “are you scared?” Extroversion isn’t seen as a trait- it’s seen as part of humanity. Recently, a bit of extroversion has snuck into my own disposition. Does moving abroad change a person? Without a doubt. But specific alterations are often unforeseen, and at least this time- pleasantly surprising.