Unforgettable Moments and Friends: A Photo Blog

This is me and my host sister, Aidana. We are standing in front of Кок Тебе which is an amusement park in the mountains in which you take a Gondola ride to get to the top. It is a well-known sight in Almaty, Kazakhstan. There is a car filled with apples in the picture. The …

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Learning More Than A Language Through Food

Host family life provides innumerable benefits to a student trying to orient themselves in a new place and navigate interactions in a different system of social norms. However, the benefits of host family life extend beyond just helping you to settle in; in fact, four months in to host family life, I'm constantly amazed at …

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Moshing in Moscow

Coming from Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., I have been lucky enough to experience two flourishing music scenes. While both cities have excellent medium to large music venues, what makes their scenes so great are their DIY venues. The venues, often located in basements and apartments, are hubs for local artists in their respective communities. I …

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Тофжан’s (Tofzhan’s) 40 day Celebration

In America, baby showers are the most popular way of celebrating the soon-to-be parents and child. A few weeks before the child’s birth, friends and family gather together and bring gifts to the mother for the future baby. Most gatherings are small, but some can be pretty extravagant. However, in Kazakhstan, people do things a …

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The Suburbs of Moscow

I live with a host family in a six story "brezhnevki" apartment building that was constructed in the 1970s. As a historian, I am in love with my surroundings as my home is a veritable time capsule of Soviet life, complete with carpets in every imaginable orientation and the feverish canning of fresh vegetables for …

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Добро пожаловать в Казахстан

I had very few expectations in mind when my plane touched down in Almaty. I was both mentally and physically exhausted from traveling for almost 48 hours straight, and as soon as I approached customs, I knew that my language skills were lacking, to say the least. I figured that this semester would be challenging …

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There’s a Washing Machine in My Kitchen —Cultural Observations and Shocks

While walking through the streets of my new home, Almaty, Kazakhstan, I can almost hear Green Day’s “American Idiot” pulsing through my brain. “Don’t wanna’ be an American Idiot,” is the goal, but the execution sometimes falls short. Often, these apparent blunders are not informed by the Russian language, as I expected before departure; rather, …

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My First Month in Saint Petersburg

When I decided to come to Saint Petersburg to study abroad, I didn’t know what to expect. I hoped, of course, that I would have a great semester and that my language speaking abilities would improve. However, I wanted to avoid setting unrealistic expectations, and having them disappointed. I decided to make myself a few …

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Learning from My Host Family in Almaty

I have only been in Kazakhstan for three weeks, yet I feel like I have already learned a semester’s worth of knowledge. I have traveled to other countries before on vacation and have felt out of place, but never before in the state of culture shock and later cultural euphoria as I have in Almaty. …

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