First weekend in KZ’stan

Amidst the craziness of preparing to leave, it was awesome to catch up with friends and family, wrapping up all that life in CU entails. I am so thankful for my friends and family, who have been so supportive throughout the whole process – from the beginning stages of the job search process, to deciding to accept this position in KZ, organizing garage sales, and then the offers to help pack, clean, etc. I am really blessed with great friends and family!

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It was a pretty uneventful flight from Chicago to Istanbul. However, Istanbul to Almaty was where it got interesting. After waiting on the tarmac for an hour, we finally lifted off. An hour and a half into the trip, the pilot announced that because the co-pilot was having a medical emergency we were going to turn back around to Istanbul. Upon landing, we see an ambulance pulling up to the tarmac and then someone being led off the plane with an IV drip. After another 1 1/2 hours, a new pilot came aboard. But eight hours later, we finally arrived in Almaty (albeit four hours late).

I was told that there might not be luggage carts at the airport. Thankfully, that is not true. So no need to kick in plans B, C, and D. Also, apparently there is a new customs law regarding how much you can bring into the country (2 bags) – but since I found out the morning I was leaving, I just hoped for the best. But no problems pushing my luggage through customs. And despite my shooing hand motions, two porters managed to grab my luggage and help me to the university car.

Sorry for the blurry picture – I wanted to take it before getting into trouble since I was still in customs… 

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Since arriving, I’ve met a few new colleagues in the guest houses they’ve placed us in while we start the apartment search, started the paperwork process on this end (which included getting a HIV test at a clinic), and walked around this part of the city. I have begun the process of memorizing the Kazakh and Russian alphabets and making flash cards for words like “Я не товорю по русски” (trans. “I don’t speak Russian”) or “Cпасибо” (trans. “Thank you.”) and becoming familiar with unfamiliar letters like “Ғ” (/gh/) and “Ң” (/ng/).

Also, I feel like I’ve become part camel since arriving here. At first I thought it was because I was just dehydrated from the combination of a somewhat eventful plane ride from Istanbul to Almaty. Apparently it has been an unusually dry summer, which explains the perpetual dehydration. I think I’ve been drinking 63-84 ounces of water per day.

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Here are some pictures around the campus (which is 1 km^2 more or less)…

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Up this week — find an apartment (hopefully without getting seriously ripped off), find out what courses I am teaching, and orientation. 

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