Penn Abroad Ambassadors Lorraine Ruppert

Student standing in front of Erdene Zuu Monastery in Kharakhorum
College '25
Architecture & Urban Studies
Penn Global Seminars


  • PGS: Mongolian Civilization: Nomads and Sedentaries in Mongolia

Ask me about...

  • Traveling to a country I did not know the language of at all

  • Traveling without personal access to cellular data, I did not get an international plan and hot spots were not very effective

  • Having a spiritual experience while abroad due to lack of connection with the outside world

My Experience Abroad:

This experience related to my pursuit of an urban studies major with a focus on the built environment and sustainability and my interest in architectural history. The course greatly focused on Mongolia's transition from a primarily nomadic society to a sedentary one and the many political stresses that have caused this shift/ stresses this shift has caused. This rapid migration has caused many urban issues in the capital city Ulaanbaatar, such as uncontrollable ger district sprawl and dangerously high levels of air pollution. Through witnessing the contemporary artifacts of rapid urbanization and getting the opportunity to interact with locals, my experience in Mongolia heightened my understanding of these challenges. I connected many of the things I witnessed to that of other cities I have been able to spend time in (each with their own sets of challenges), such as Taipei, Taiwan (where my family is from and where I spent my gap year). Even with my current set of courses, I find myself connecting what I learned from this trip to what I am learning now.

Other Highlights:

  • Playing with baby goats from the herder family's herd

  • Eating fresh tarag (yogurt) and aaruul (dried curds) prepared by a herder family in their home, the ger

  • Walking around the ger camp at sunset and coming across grazing wild horses roaming around the steppe

  • Shopping and finding beautiful jewelry at the Narantuul (local open market)

  • Meeting locals at a free performance by Mongolia's most famous pop singer, Uka

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