It has been one week now and there are several things that have to change in my daily routine in order to integrate. I thought I would go ahead and tqalk about some differences in daily home life here in Kazakhstan and not just in my family...but a good general cultural dynamic in my village. My village is pronounced Bell-boo-lock. It is a short distance from the major city All-ma-tea.
First thing that I have to do is make my bed every morning. Having a clean house and a clean room is very very important. Decoration wise, there are not any 'hoarders' here. Only the furniture and items that are needed are here. Lots of floor space etc. Wallpaper is in every room. Nothing is painted really except in schools. The wallpaper is ornate in design and very beautiful. Sometimes the wallpaper has glitter in it. :) Also, large floor rugs seem to be very common because you have to take your shoes off when you enter the house. You either wear socks or have slippers when you are inside.
Another thing is that culturally everyone here LOVES sweet things. We have candy at every meal. Cookies, cakes, candy are all a part of each meal - all day every day. "Chai" is the Russian word for "tea." It is usually an English black tea or something like that. You pour a glass of boling water into your cup and dip the tea bag into the hot cup of water about 3 - 5 times until the water is a clear amber color. So the tea never really steeps for more than a few seconds. It is because a lot of people don't like to drink straight water and so they drink tea like water. And I have about 10 cups of "chai" per day. :)
Laundry in my house is done once a week on Saturday mornings. Actually Saturday seems to be a big cleaning day. I have to go to school all day on Saturdays but I think my family mops, sweeps, vacuums, cleans bathrooms, and does laundry. So if I want to have an item washed during the week I haтв wash it in a bowl of hot water and soap. All things are air dried around the house. One more important thing is that all of my clothes have to be ironed. I have to iron all things that I wear because it is an insult to have wrinkled clothes here. I hardly ever wear jeans and never anything as casual as sweats and a tshirt (except maybe to play a sport).
That is all for now. In general I made a very smooth transition here and I can't complain. The native people here are wonderful, the Peace Corps staff is very good, my cohorts from the US are hilarious and fun, and I am excited to continue learning the language / culture
Kazakhstani Fun Fact: No one drinks chilled water here. All water is served at room temperature - never from the fridge.
Peace Corps Blog.
click above to play a traditional Kazakh song that I really like called the Karajorga. It is very popular and there is a traditional dance that is performed with it as well.
March 8, 2011 -
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