Archive for December 18, 2010

Expats’ Impressions of Kazakhstan – the Good and the Bad

Recently I did an online survey using Web Survey Master and 27 of my expat friends responded. I must have sent out to 50 people so I got over a 50% return rate.   12% have lived in KZ for less than half a year, 23% for one year, 23% for 2-3 years, 8% for 4-5 years, 12% for over 5 years and 8% over 10 years and another 14% had various answers. These were comments at the end of survey most of the 27 were American friends of mine but also some from Canada, U.K., Australia, Netherlands and other places.  See what they wrote in answer to my asking for additional advice or feedback:

1) In general the Kazakh people are great. I really find it bothersome that some Kazakh ethnics and non-Kazakh ethnics do not always get along only because of their heritage. I believe much could be done to improve the relations between these two groups. I would also like to say that once a foreigner develops a friendship with someone from Kazakhstan, it is a great thing. Kazakhs can be very welcoming and hospitable, BUT I think the Soviet attitude of not trusting people and being too skeptical of someone’s motives gets in the way too often.

2) Kazakhstan has wonderful people and a great deal of potential. Still the process of establishing a nation is a great task. Most Kazakhstanis are unaware of all the challenges that the U.S. has overcome to be where it is today. It did not happen in fifty, one hundred, or even one hundred-fifty years.

3) The orientation of the questionnaire suggests a sensitivity or underlying inferiority complex regarding this country. But only in a small way.

4) A question such as the following would be good: How have you benefited from living in Kazakhstan?

5) I think Kazakh people are very resilient and will survive whatever life throws them. I don’t think they are easily offended, but they have been mistreated by others in their past.

Of the questions I asked my expat friends, this was Question #6. Kazakhstan can be a challenging place to live, even for the locals, what bothers you as a foreigner the most? Several expats commented on RUDENESS where we are used to “service with a smile” in the western world.  I’m used to poor service in communist or former communist countries so my answer would instead be different but it still amounts to what I perceive as rudeness.  If I had I taken my own survey my pet peeve would be Kazakh drivers using their cars to drive TOO close to pedestrians.  We Americans like our personal space a bit bigger.

“Customer service could improve in some businesses, Rude salespeople, Poor service ethics and rudeness of shop assistants, the “rudeness” of the men…..spitting and general unattentiveness to “polite manners”

Some others wrote: “General difficulty of living conditions” “I actually worry more about the disparity of income within Astana itself. You see some very rich people here, but there are many more who are not so lucky.

Other comments: Nothing to do for English speakers (e.g. movies)




unfulfilled promises and focus on presentation without substance to back it up

Lack of care for poor and homeless Justice/human rights/corruption: it is indeed very important to have ratified conventions and written laws, however, it takes much more time to implement them.

Lack of interest in offering excellent medical care

To be continued tomorrow with more answers to the questions posed to expats about living in Kazakhstan.

waiting in lines

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