We are enjoying our time here, so far! We have had many new experiences as we have been learning the culture. The climate here is very dry and hot. With very little rain, it is very dusty. There are few trees to protect from the wind, so the wind tends to be very strong. Dust storms are very common, but thankfully they do not last long. Air conditioning is not very common here. The two of us along with our two supervisors live in a one bedroom apartment here in the city. We keep the screened in windows open constantly in hopes of catching a nice breeze. The two fans that we have help as well. We are very thankful to have been provided with this nice place to live.
The interaction of the people with one another is very different than what we are used to at home. It is more difficult to build relationships here. It takes time. This country prides itself in moving forward all the while still living in the past effects of the Soviet Union. It has been an adjustment to walk down the streets and sidewalks seeing the faces without smiles or much expression at all passing by. One thing we do enjoy is the difference in pace from America. Here in Central Asia it is very important that relationships come before any sort of time constraint or schedule. Different from the fast pace, busy atmosphere in America, having a conversation with one another “trumps” any previous plans that might have been in place. Every day and sometimes up to three times a day we have tea. Having tea is part of a normal day’s activities. Hot tea equals snacks and sweets as well. The people are very laid back and this is something that we have really enjoyed about the culture. Learning to drink hot tea multiple times a day has been fun too!
The nationals here put a lot of emphasis on appearance. It is very rare to see someone outside their home with a casual T-Shirt and jeans. They all dress very nice in business casual attire. The women here wear high heels with nearly every outfit! It amazes us to know that they walk such long distances in those types of shoes.
Walking is the most common form of transportation here. Along with riding the bus, walking is the easiest way to get around the city. Many people drive cars but in my opinion those who drive are either crazy or very brave! Traffic laws and separate sides of the road are taken very lightly here, to say the least. Learning to ride the bus is an experience in itself. Olivia and I refer to our “bus-stance” often as we are traveling throughout the city. The buses are all different sizes. Depending on the size of the bus is what controls the number of people who ride at one time. However, they like to cram as many people on one bus as possible. This means, we are often up “close and personal” with strangers having only one hand on the rail to keep balance. People often take taxis as well, but here they are quite different from America. A “taxi” is considered any person driving down the road with extra room in his/her car that wants to make some extra money. You signal for a taxi by holding your arm out and you never know who or what type of car will pull up, offering you a ride. We are told, “they are safe” and “everyone does it”.
There is a group of college age siblings from a different country studying here. We have been able to spend a lot of time with them as we are getting to know one another. They have been here for close to a year, so they have been able to help us learn the culture, the city in which we live and even introducing us to many local students! It has been great to see how The Father is working through the two of us from America and the siblings we’ve just met.
The people here have many different beliefs and lifestyles. They are very superstitious and have many forms of “protection” from the evil spirits. The Evil Eye is one of the most influential and common forms of “protection.” The Evil Eye comes in many forms such as many types of jewelry, car accessories and even home decorations. This has been difficult to see and understand their dependence on such an item. They have many different unsaid “rules” that they follow for fear of superstition.
Please continue to lift us up daily!
-Lauren & Olivia