Archive for December 22, 2010

Expats’ Impressions Living in Kazakhstan (Part V)

Still with me on this survey I did several weeks ago? Today’s answers were VERY divergent!!! I liked getting the responses from people I know and since it was anonymous I can only guess who said what in their comments.  Some liked answering the 14 questions, one person did it in less than 3 minutes, another took 25 minutes but the average was around 10-15 minutes.  Figure a minute for each question.  I appreciated the investment of their time to do this questionnaire because I think it yields some important results that the Kazakhs should pay attention to.  I am not saying what but the reason I do this blog is for those Kazakhs in my reading audience to be aware of how *I* perceive their culture, I’m not that different from the next expat they might know.

I try to the highlight the best and the brightest moments while living here and I have all that with my ready and willing Kazakh students.  However, there are other undercurrents going on that want to undermine any progress we make.  Of course, I won’t go into detail about that but I think every expat who lives here knows what I am writing about and might say some of the same things. This next question is a keeper because I think it shows how some of us expats identify with the sensitivities of the Kazakh people and that is their identity in the world.  I know it bothers me a GREAT deal when people don’t know where I have been living the last three years and think I’m in Russia somewhere.

10. How much does it bother you when you go home from Kazakhstan to your friends and family and they ask you “How is life in Russia?

Yes, it bothers me

1)It bothers me quite a lot. Most Americans are clueless about geography, specifically central Asia.

2) Greatly. We constantly emphasize that we live in a different country

3)I get asked by relatives how it is to live so close to Afghanistan now.

4) I always want to say to them “Didn’t you listen to where I am? I am not in Russia but Kazakhstan!”

5) Makes me feel like they don’t really have a concept of “Where places are in the world” and that we actually live in an independent country.

6) it drives me CRAZY!

7) Doesn’t bother me that much – I assume they don’t know much about geography. It bothers me more when they say, “Kazakhstan – that’s where Borat is from!” because I know that is such an untrue representation of Kazakhstan.

8 )At first, a lot, but I’ve gotten used to it and take it with a grain of salt. Sometimes I say I’m living in Russia when I’m in the US because people just say “huh?” when I tell them I’m in KZ

9) Shows the lack of understanding and the lack of awareness of these people. Actually, in my experience, people don’t seem to connect Kazakhstan with Russia right away. They first ask: Where is Kazakhstan. Is it safe there? Then when they connect KZ as a former USSR, the question of life in Russia comes up.

No, it doesn’t bother me or it doesn’t happen:

They do not ask that…most know I do not live in Russia and KZ is a different country

I have never had that experience. I think most educated people realize there is a difference between the two countries

Does not bother me at all. KZ is not well known

mine mostly hear about the weather and how expensive it is to live here comparative to Texas

They don’t ask me that. They all know about Kazkahstan, and would not make that mistake

They do not ask me that. British people’s world geography tends to be quite good and they all know the difference between Kazakhstan and Russia.

no big deal, I didn’t know about Kazakhstan much before I came here either

It doesn’t really bother me. Unfortunately, people in Europe know very little about Central Asia. The fact is that people who live in one place only, especially those who travel rarely, tend to be much more focused on their local issues than on international. The globalization, and the fact that we are daily overloaded with information from all sorts of media, do not necessarily improve one’s general knowledge or interests (especially in geography, for example).

Most of my family and friends only think of it as a Muslim country so questions are more directed towards the religion and of course their thoughts that no one here likes us because of their religion. That really bothers me because it’s not like that at all!

They know I’m in KZ not Russia

It doesn’t bother at all

It wouldn’t really bother me. Before I came here for the first time in 2007, I hardly knew anything myself about KZ. So I can not blame people if they don’t know where it is located on the world map. Actually, I’m always surprised when friends/family point me at articles or television programs on KZ, it means that they try to understand what I’m doing.

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