Being a young capital of Kazakhstan Astana provides a wide choice of higher education insitutions. Young people who strive for success want to get a good education so they come to Astana. In Astana there are 7 leading state universities. One of the newest is Nazarbayev University that was opened in 2009. The principal feature of this university is to acquire knowledge that is not worse than that abroad. Moreover highly qualified specialists who were invited from abroad teach here. The students have an opportunity to study free of charge, on the account of state grants.
Kazakh Agrotechnical University named after S. Seifullin also attracts attention because it is one of the oldest universities in Astana, the history of which began back in 1957. Kazakh Agrotechnical University was successfully accredited and this fact confirms a firm stand among the best universities in Astana.
Eurasian National University named after L.Gumilev is also one of the top universities in Astana, it has 15 scientific institutions, laboratories and centers. It is also one of the biggest universities in Astana where a student can get knowledge in a number of scientific fields.
There are also smaller private universities, institutes and colleges in Astana but the above mentioned ones probably host the majority of students.
Last week I worked with the poeple from Spain who came to Astana to sign a contract with the Ministry of Agriculture. There were several surprises awaiting them, one of which is the service in a restaurant in Astana
Surprise #1 Menu is either in Russian or in Kazakh, but rarely in English.
If you don’t speak on of these two languages spoken in Kazakhstan you will have difficulties in ordering. In most cases you will only find names of the salads or meaks, but not the ingredients, so you will have no idea what you are about to eat! Usually there are many traditional meals as well, such as beshparmak, manty or plov which will not make you any less confused.
Traditional kazakh food
Surprise #2 Waitresses don’t speak English either.
Well, maybe some of them do. But in 9 cases of 10 she will just keep on talking to you in Russian/Kazakh. Probably you will have to point out (using your fingers I mean) which dish you would like to have. When you want to pay and leave, just waive to a waitress and pretend you are signing a bill in the air. She will get your message.
Surprise #3 Service quality is not quite high.
Just an example:
When ordering his steak „medium“, a foreigner was asked if he was referring to size…
BTW: some restaurants don’t accept credit cards, so before ordering something, make sure you can pay for your food !
Surprise #4 Food is actually VERY GOOD!
So if you manage to read a menu in Russian, order your dish in Russian and communicate with a waitress somehow, you will be surprised at how tasty the food is!
Some useful words and phrases:
- Hello! Zdravstvuite! Здравствуйте!
- Do you have a menu in English? U vas est’ menu na angliskom? У вас есть меню на английском?
- Do you accept credit cards? Mojno rasplatit’sya creditnoi cartoi? Можно расплатиться кредитной картой?
- Some more, please. Eshe, pojaluista. Еще, пожалуйста.
- Thank you. Spasibo. Спасибо.
- Bill, please. Schet, pojaluista. Счет, пожалуйста.
- Goodbye! Do svidaniya. До свидания.
Kazakhstan is a unique country as far as its people are concerned. There are more than 120 nationalitites living in the country who preach more than 40 religions. Just like the USA, Kazakhstan can be called a melting pot, because all the people live together in peace and learn a lot from each other. May, 1st is a national holiday in Kazakhstan.
How come there are so many nationalities in Kazakhstan? There are people who were deported in Kazakhstan in the 20th century, among them there are Germans, Polish, Ukranians, Belorussians etc. Now these people are of course free to choose their country, and many have left (mostly Germans), but there are many people who have stayed, believing that Kazakhstan is their motherland and not wanting to live anywhere else.
All the nationalities are equal, we all have the same rights as the native Kazakhs. Several years ago the 1stMay was announced a national holiday, Kazakhstani People’s Unity Day and there was erected a monument that is located in the center of the Old city, near the Youth Palace on the Republic Avenue. The monument symbolises the unity, which can be seen on the photo.
Happy Kazakhstani People’s Unity Day!
If you happen to be in Kazakhstan (or in any CIS country for that matter) on the 8th of March, you should not forget to wish a Happy Women’s Day to all the women you know.
This day is a big day on every woman’s calendar, as well as on every man’s. This is always a day off and you can feel the presence of the holiday couple days in advance. Men are trying to get the best flowers while running from ome store to another trying to get the best presents as well. All girls, mothers and wives get lots of attention from their men (at least they are supposed to do so), and they also congratulate one another. Men do their best to impress their beloved: they clean the house, they cook, they say all the nice words. Most of women wish there were several Women’s Day in the year…
So let me say it again: if you know any woman in Kazakhstan (even if yourself are not in Kazakhstan yet or anymore) it would be nice to call or to send a message and wish a Happy Women’s Day. In Russian you would say “Поздравляю с 8 Марта!“ (Pozdravlyayu s vosmym marta!)You can even say it to those women that you don’t personally know but which you meet on that day, be it your neighbour, landlady or shop assistant. You should also follow the main rule of the day: worship a Woman!
I feel very sorry for you if you have to come to Astana in winter! Today the temperature in Astana was as low as -32 and this is not the only day when it’s so cold. Astana is known as the second coldest capital in the world and I believe it!
Winter in Kazakhstan is something you should get ready for in advance. Of course if you have a car or don’t go outside too much, you can survive, but if you don’t… Well, I am being a bit pessimistic now but that’s only because of the fact that I almost froze to death today. It’s so cold that every part of your body hurts and it hurts when you breath in. And your eyes hurt because there is now way you can protect them. And your car wouldnt start easily. And the trasportation gets very disorganized. And people hurry even more to their warm houses.
So what I would like to recommend is to avoid trips toKazakhstan during our harsh winter. But this is not the best solution if you don’t have a choice.
Get yourself equiped!
You need: a hat, a jacket, gloves, boots, a scarf.
I knew some people who came to Kazakhstan from Spain at the beginning of January (poor guys!) and what they did is they wore thermal trousers and t shirt underneath their normal clothes. They told me it was warm enough. I didn’t check it myself but maybe you can try it out!
Anyways, before coming to Kazakhstan (especially to its northern part) check the weather conditions out. Maybe you are lucky and it will be “only” -20 or so:)
Happy New Year my dear readers!
If you come from a non-CIS country, you are probably experiencing something new while celebrating New Year in Kazakhstan. This is really the most favourite and most desirable holiday in the year. People start to plan it a month in advance: what they are going to wear, where they want to celebrate, what kind of gifts they are going to buy…
Kazakhstan is a secular country, so Christmas (the one that is on the 25th of December) is not an official holiday, this is why you shouldn’t be expecting anything special on that day. As for New Year eve…you will see it for yourself. This is a crazy night! Noone gets to sleep, people have fun with their friends (eventhough New Year is regarded as a family holiday) and look forward to „a new happyness“.
I wouldn’t advise you to go out on the 31st of December especially if you don’t have a reliable company, since it can be pretty dangerous for you (or for anybody in that case) because of numerous drunk people.
I think you may also want to know what’s Russian for „Happy New Year“:
S Novym Godom!
May this year be full of joy, success and love!