After the return

From living in Kyrgyzstan I’ve learned that it’s a beautiful country, in many ways. The Kyrgyz people are the most hospitable people I ever met; they would strike up conversations with you, even when they don’t know you, and they can get very person very quickly, but that’s because in their culture it shows they care about you, while if that happened in the U.S., most people would get agitated by such questions. The Kyrgyz food is delicious – it includes everything from dumplings to soups to rice and everything in between; and they often use organically grown products rather than processed foods or genetically modified foods. Kyrgyzstan is a developing country and though a lot of the things were wonderful there, I began to appreciate the amenities I had in America.

I would advice other students to study abroad. The money shouldn’t be a problem, because there are a lot of scholarships out there just for college students who want to study abroad. This experience will teach you many things about yourself, it will help you grow and it will teach you some type of cultural awareness/sensitivity which doesn’t hurt since our communities are becoming more global ever day.

Preparing to return home

I have definitely  learned a lot from this 2-months-in-a-foreign-country experience. I feel very grateful for all the scholarships that helped me pay for this, without them I don’t think I could have been able to afford this program. I made a lot of good friends in Kyrgyzstan – both local and Americans, and I’m going to miss them a lot. I’m going to miss my host family: my parents – who gave me lots of love and freedom to explore the city even if that meant I would come home at 11pm sometimes. I’m going to miss my Russian grammar, reading teachers – they were the most friendliest, sweetest and intelligent young people I’ve met in my life. I’m going to miss Bishkek, the capital city where I was living and its beautiful scenery.

As I’m preparing to head back to States- to American culture, I’m not worried. From being immersed in this new, Kyrgyz, culture, I feel ready to be back in America. When I get back to States, I feel like I will be more comfortable than ever to be living in a country where multiple different cultures/ideologies exist.

I feel bitter-sweet about departing. I’m glad for all the knowledge and eye-opening experiences  that Kyrgyzstan has given me, but I also feel sad to be parting with the good people that I connected with here.

Life in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

The city I’m studying abroad in is called Bishkek. The city is beautiful. It has everything you can think of: beautiful tall mountains, lakes, parks, good restaurants and malls. It’s a blend of a lively metropolis and beautiful nature.

The daily life for me is Russian classes in the mornings, for five hours. Then, some students who live in the dorms (which are located inside the school’s building) will usually take an hour-long nap and then do other things. Some of the students work out in the gym afterschool. Others will go to Sierra coffee shop, which is the most Western coffee shop around, to relax and study.

I live with a host family. Both of my host parents work Monday through Friday 8am – 6pm. They usually get home by 7pm and we eat dinner by 8pm together. During dinner time, they would ask me how school was, how were my classes and this opens up the chance for me to talk Russian. Occasionally they would go outside in the evenings, for a walk. They invited me and I went with them a few times. Those evenings walks are my favorite because not only do I get to practice my Russian, but I also get to know about their life and their cultural/personal beliefs.

The academic experience is great as well. I thought, prior to coming to Bishkek, that I would be in a class with at least five other students. But, when I got here, my program coordinator told me that based on my Russian Placement Test, she organized one-on-one classes for me. And this works great because the teachers teach by my pace and they focus more on things that I need help on rather than teach extensively things I already am familiar with.

Pre Departure

06/01/2015, Blog by Feruza Ghias, Community Psychology, SRAS (School of Russian and Asian Studies) – Russian as a Second Language program, in The London School of Languages and Cultures, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

I chose to study through the School of Russian And Asian Studies (SRAS) for many reasons. One of the main reasons is the location – Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. I’ve been exposed to the Russian language and Asian culture in Uzbekistan, where I was born. I went to a Russian-speaking school there. In 2005, when I was ten years old, my family moved to the United States due to lack of economic opportunities.

For the past ten years that I’ve been living living in America, I missed Uzbekistan very much. I missed the simplicity of Uzbek lifestyle: groceries and clothes/accessories sold on the streets. I missed the flavorful food: Uzbek plov (rice), shashlik (marinated sausage), and the meat-stuffed samsa (Uzbek version of the Indian samosa). When we moved to the US, I spoke fluent Russian. However, over the years, unfortunately, my Russian declined as I became busy with my American studies. I wanted to strengthen my Russian language skills and visit Uzbekistan so much so I started searching for study abroad programs in Uzbekistan. SRAS website and specifically this Russian program was one of the first websites that popped up.

Even though this program will take place in Kyrgyzstan and not Uzbekistan, I don’t mind it. My dad had visited Kyrgyzstan before and when I spoke to him about this, he told me that Kyrgyzstan is very similar to Uzbekistan culturally and that a lot of people spoke Russian there. After hearing my dad’s points on Kyrgyzstan and taking into account my desire to connect with my Uzbek roots and improve my Russian, this program became an easy choice for me. Plus, living in Kyrgyzstan will be a bigger learning experience since I have never been to that country before.

Since I’ve never lived on my own before, I was concerned about how I would keep in touch with my family. I spoke to them and my friends who travelled abroad and they advised me to use Skype and Viber applications because those are good for international communication and they are free. So, I downloaded those apps and got everyone’s contact numbers on there.

I’m excited and looking forward to this journey!