First month in Kazakhstan: a Uighur Wedding Analogy

Before I left I was expecting to land in a different world. I mean: Kazakhstan! It seemed so far away, so foreign. But it seems that a recurring feeling that I have been having since I’ve been here is like a grandiose sense of expecting the unexpected but then being hit with something just weird. … Continue reading First month in Kazakhstan: a Uighur Wedding Analogy

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Salo and Grechka and Borsch, Oh My!

Exploring Kyiv and taking in the culture has been as much a linguistic adventure as a gastronomic one. One of the cornerstones of cultural immersion is to fully experience the local cuisine, and through my homestay family, I believe I have become acquainted with the classics of Ukrainian cooking. Every day at the kitchen table, … Continue reading Salo and Grechka and Borsch, Oh My!

An American Introvert in Moscow

Americans can be quite passive-aggressive when trying to express their thoughts, opinions, and desires. After going on a very bad first date, Americans will still respond positively to any suggestions for future dates and comments on the quality of the first. This leads to miscommunication and deepens the need to read subtle socially accepted hints … Continue reading An American Introvert in Moscow

Shuba Hunting

In Russian, the word “шуба” [shoo-ba], plural: шуби [shoo-bee] has two meanings. 1. A fur coat 2. A salad that consists of alternating layers of mayonnaise, beats, and salted herring fish. The full name of the salad is translated as “Herring under a fur coat.” To most Americans, both are foreign and puzzling. Here we’re … Continue reading Shuba Hunting

Language and Empathy

While studying abroad in Kazakhstan, it has been the first time in my life to live in a multilingual society. Kazakh is the native language, but Russian is widely spoken and understood, as Kazakhstan became a part of the Russian Empire in the 19th century and gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. … Continue reading Language and Empathy

Study Abroad: Prepare Yourself

Study abroad. To some, this term elicits wondrous fantasies of far away lands where all of the people welcome you with open arms and mounds of food. To some, it is a vacation; a chance to party in new places, drink new beers, and meet new people. To others, and often those about to embark … Continue reading Study Abroad: Prepare Yourself

On my love for the Moscow Metro

It probably sounds silly, how much I love the metro. Maybe it's due to the small town girl effect- I come from a town of 10,000 that used to have a taxi, but other than that, has no public transport whatsoever. I think it's more than that, though. I remember clearly sitting at orientation, being … Continue reading On my love for the Moscow Metro

The Monuments of Russia

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in Moscow this summer (and there certainly is, given the truly insane amount of incredible experiences I’ve already had in only a few short weeks), it’s that Russians love their monuments. Monuments to Pushkin and Bulgakov, Zhukov and Alexander Nevskii litter the streets of every Russian city – along … Continue reading The Monuments of Russia

On Birthdays and Celebrations in Kazakhstan

I must admit that I was a little bit apprehensive about living with a Kazakh host family for the summer as a 30-year-old PhD candidate. It is difficult enough to play the appropriate roles when I visit my own parents! But so far, I have had nothing short of an amazing experience. A week into … Continue reading On Birthdays and Celebrations in Kazakhstan