Monday, 19 December 2011

Kazakhstan - The first visitors

November 20-26

Hello everyone!

We’ve got chills, and they’re certainly multiplying here in Kazakhstan. My iPod flashed up that it was a brisk -23’C when we left for school one morning. It’s noticeable, especially when spending entire afternoons outdoors desperately trying to find clues for our scavenger hunt.

What is also noticeable is the effort put in to maintain a sense of normality in the city. Snow ploughs and diggers have sprouted like new flowers in spring, and the low unemployment rate can be explained partially by the number of snow shovellers working hard on each and every street. They have to put this much energy into keeping the roads clean, otherwise this city would be at a standstill for six months of the year.

What they wouldn’t expect are too many tourists visiting this young capital at this chilly time of year, yet some are brave enough to withstand the cold – as well as numerous visa problems – in order to arrive. My housemate from university, Carl, arrived on the Friday, to sample a taste of life in Kazakhstan.

He arrived shortly after we had a slight water problem in our apartment. We turned on the tap one day to find this…

Apparently when the pipes are cleaned the water becomes dirty in order to flush out all of the bad sediment that has built up. The fact that we weren’t informed about this isn’t overly surprising, but it is a bit of a shock to the system when you try to shave with brown water.

As usual, a lot is happening in school. We have been very busy writing our reports, but there are many more fun events happening to keep us all firmly on our toes. The Governors from Haileybury UK visited us, and our Year 6 classes were a key element in the School Assembly that they witnessed.  They were very impressed with our children and with the school.

The preparations for Kazakhstan’s 20th birthday are also beginning to be cranked up. We had a Kazakh costume day on the Friday, and the vast majority of our children turned up to school in full traditional Kazakh gear. The girls were all wearing white dresses with a red trim and large hats, and the boys all sported velvet waistcoats.

Kazakh fun fact: Many Kazakh dresses are made of felt to keep them warm during the winter.

It is great that we get to learn about Kazakhstan’s history and culture whilst living in the country. It is a country that has an interesting past and a bright – if cold – future. We are all thoroughly enjoying living here as we pass the three month mark, and are eager to continue broadening our horizons.

Love you all


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