The flight to Kazakhstan is long. It’s a very long time to second-guess the single-most consequential decision you’ve ever made. 3 months in, I haven’t regretted a single day. Granted, the first week I was in cold, cold, Kazakhstan I was lonely and worried, scared to venture out into my Russian-speaking city. It took some coaxing, but when I finally left my room I found a group of students who made the same crazy decision as I did and a city that was happy to have me there. Sometimes I’ll be walking down the hall of the dormitory and think to myself, I’m walking down the hall in Kazakhstan, or I’m getting a coffee in Kazakhstan! Everything normal is totally bizarre when I stop and consider it.
-The crew skiing in Kyrgyzstan-I’m the one in the NASA jacket-
In the past three months I have traveled to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan (twice!). I’ve skied, attempted to learn and speak Russian, and met people I know I will be friends with for a long time.
As a political science major there has been no greater place to study. With the increasing tensions regarding Russia becoming more and more constant in the national discussion, living in a post-soviet country attempting to become more independent gives me an entirely different angle on the whole debate. My classes, which have been wonderful, are not taught from an ultra-Americanized perspective, which have been instrumental in my decision to focus on Global Politics within my major.
For anyone considering studying abroad, it is easy to isolate yourself to more typical choices. While Spain, France, or Italy may seem more glamorous or exciting, Central Asia is a goldmine of history and culture, and living in a major city like Almaty will allow you to ease into living in a completely different culture while allowing you to conveniently delve into countries and areas untouched by Western influence.
Sophie Morrison is a current CSULB student majoring in Political Science with a minor in Journalism who is currently studying abroad for a semester in Kazakhstan. If you are a student or alumni that has studied abroad and would like to write for our blog don’t hesitate to contact us!