Kazakh Wedding Traditions

Weddings are one of Kazakhstan’s many customs. Traditionally, there were several stages of the wedding ceremony, but today most couples do not go through all of them. Depending on where the members of the couple are from, they may be encouraged by relatives to follow the tradition as it has been done all along. People …

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Nowruz Celebrations

One of the best experiences I got to witness while in Tajikistan was the celebration of Nowruz. Nowruz is a holiday that originated in the old Persian Empire to celebrate the birth of the New Year and the first day on the Iranian calendar. It is one of the major holidays that is still celebrated …

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In Sickness and in Health

While I did not travel anywhere distant this spring break, which in Azerbaijan took place during the Novruz holiday, I had the opportunity to experience first-hand some fundamental Azerbaijani customs. First, the terrible cold which has been taking down Baku’s citizenry all winter, finally hit me the last week of classes. My host mom came …

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Navigating the Waters of Fluid Dynamics in Kazakhstan

It was early February, one of the coldest weeks in Almaty. The wind blew past my teacher, program director, and me as we searched for the Physics building on the main campus of our university. I could feel my nerves heightening, but this day had been long awaited. We found the lecture hall, but having …

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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 …

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Its More Than Just a Day of Victory

Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany. День Победы, as it is known in Russian, marks a day of tradition, pride, and remembrance of those who served in the Great Patriotic War. That’s the official description at least. For all the Russians that I've met here in Moscow, the day holds …

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Boz Kashi and Persian New Year

Two of the events that wrapped up my ERLP experience in Tajikistan included Boz Kashi and the Persian New Year celebrations. I learned a lot about Persian culture from these experiences that I will keep with me long after I leave Tajikistan. In both of these events I interacted with the locals to get first-hand …

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Host Families in Central Asia

After deciding to apply to American Councils’ Eurasian Regional Language Program in Tajikistan, one of the aspects of the program that made me a bit apprehensive, and about which my friends and family were most curious, was the requirement that all participants live with a Tajik host family. Of course, the reasons were clear and …

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Kazan: Sports Capital of Russia

Throughout Russia, the city of Kazan and the capital of Tatarstan is renowned as a sports capital. It’s a fact unlikely to escape even the briefest of visitors, as stadiums and sporting venues dot the skyline and banners advertising last summer’s Universiade games still hang proudly along Bauman Street, the main pedestrian thoroughfare downtown. Meet …

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