What I Like So Far (and Also Some Things I Don’t)

Today, I got up at 4am (not by choice), read until 7 and then went for a run. Just after I left the building, I broke the jack of my headphones in my iPhone and had to run in silence. I couldn’t leave campus since you have to have an ID card to do so, which will be issued for me tomorrow. So many areas are blocked off with construction that running around the accessible part of campus only took 20 minutes. The short run at least got me warm enough to wash my hair in the cold shower (all the construction on campus means there is no hot water until the 28th of this month!!!). And then I went to blowdry my hair and discovered that my voltage converter doesn’t work for the outlets here.

For breakfast, I opened the yogurt I bought at the store yesterday and inside was a big brown puddle. Apparently, I bought chocolate cherry flavour. It was actually okay, just startling. I accidentally bought loose tea, and have no tea strainer yet but I was so desperate that I boiled the last of my water (you can only drink bottled water in KZ) and used a weird straining spoon that was in the kitchen. It took me ten minutes to figure out how the stove top works even though it’s in English. Before my first sip, I completely knocked the tea cup over and I was waterless for two more hours since the store doesn’t open until 10 on Sundays. I also noticed that there is no oven in the apartment, so file my Silpat baking sheet under the future post, “Useless Things I Brought”.

It was not a great morning. Especially after a night of silent ugly crying in my room (I have a room mate, who is very nice but doesn’t need to be subjected to that yet), feeling very overwhelmed and wondering what I’m doing here. I should’ve written down exactly why I wanted to move before leaving because it’s hard to remember when you are wallowing in sadness.

But let’s not be a downer! I felt better after some Des’ree and the morning and made a point of thinking about what I like so far. I also gave myself some real talk that I’ve been here for less than 36 hours. Patience has never come easily to me.

Things I am excited about:

  • The bread is amazing and is only 30 cents a loaf! A giant bag of salt costs 10 cents! So much cheese and also for not much money! Groceries in general are very cheap.
  • Alcohol in the grocery stores!
  • There’s a little snack store on campus that sells very delicious paprika crackers.
  • I haven’t experimented in trying any of these yet but you bet I will:


  • The main mall looks like this, and apparently there is a pool at the very top inside, that I will be frequenting in the winter:


  • I first bought my groceries from a store in there. It’s similar to Buy-Low, and the similarities continue in that I’ll have to find somewhere else to get my produce. Or maybe that’s just how produce is here (not the best!).
  • The apartment I’m staying in is really big and nice. Super high ceilings and in suite laundry!
  • Taking the bus is also very cheap (30 cents) and easy. You get on the bus on any of the three entrances and there is a conductor who goes around and takes money from the people who have just gotten on. I am so impressed by how they keep track of everyone who’s paid and who hasn’t yet.
  • Everyone has been really friendly so far.
  • My remedial Russian is serving me well. But I have to make an effort to not be shy about using it and say hi to everyone, lest I’m thought to be rude. Also, I will have to look up laundry vocabulary to actually take advantage of the in suite:


  • No one stares or is particularly interested in foreigners/tourists. It was a bit jarring in Istanbul when I did my library practicum there, but no one even glances twice here.
  • There are so many KFCs.
  • The architecture in general is very cool.
  • Astana is very into fake floral displays, which I am also into:


  • One of my co-workers explained how to get the internet working here today (web proxy set-up) and when I was finally able to stream Project Runway I was so happy I almost cried.
  • And at least I am not as sad as the saddest looking crab in the world:



4 thoughts on “What I Like So Far (and Also Some Things I Don’t)

  1. Hi! Arrived at your blog via The Billfold. When I was in my early 20s, I lived in Japan for two years so the kinds of things you’re describing about settling in and figuring things out definitely resonate with me. Can’t wait to hear about your adventures!

  2. Hi Rebecca! I just found your blog today through your post on The Billfold. Your story (you know – your life) is super interesting but what I’m really enjoying is your writing. I absolutely can not relate to being unable to read my washer machine, but everyone knows what crummy days are like and how hard major life adjustments can be. I commend you for keeping a positive attitude through it all and thank you for sharing it!

    I look forward to keeping up with your blog! And I’m so sorry about your outlet converters.

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