A librarian friend sent me the job posting for a position at the Nazarbayev University Library in Astana, Kazakhstan, as a joke back in the spring. At first I thought, “Hmm, that seems too weird, even for me.” But after casually researching Kazakhstan for a couple of months, I decided to apply.
Initially, I knew absolutely nothing about the region but the more I read and talked with local staff, the more interested I became. Here’s what I know now:
- Astana was only deemed the capital city 16 years ago and as such, is a city undergoing tremendous growth
- When that occurred, a lot of young families moved to the city, which means there are not many teenagers, as of yet
- If you took the futuristic buildings of Dubai and plonked them in the middle of Saskatchewan, that is what Astana looks like
- Kazakhstan has a lot of oil and natural resources
- And the highest per capita population of wolves
- The national drink is fermented camel/goat milk. In The Long Way Round, Ewan McGregor described it as “slightly off natural yogurt that’s been carbonated”
- CNN deemed Astana the world’s weirdest capital city
- Astana is the second coldest capital city in the world
It was the “no teenagers” that won me over.
I’m not romanticizing this move. I’m fully aware that a very limited number of people will visit me. I will be lonely and question my choice, at times. But everyone questions even the most exciting and greatest choices of their lives! It’s like my long bike rides. That’s a good metaphor.
It’s going to be overwhelming, frustrating, exciting, and beautiful. I will have moments of growth and connection and moments where I can’t stop crying and all I want is a teen burger or a peanut buster parfait.
It’s going to be an adventure.