Assalomu Alaykum! Salamatsyzby! здравствуйте!

Assalomu Alaykum! Salamatsyzby! здравствуйте! Hello!

My name is Kristina and I am a 26-year-old Austrian with a slight obsession with Central Asia and travelling to the more remote parts of the world. Learning a lot (of and about) languages, foreign cultures and trying to gain a better understanding of traditions while teaching German has been my mission in the past years.
Initially, this blog started out as a mere means to inform my friends and family about my life and adventures when I first moved to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. It became a lot more than that to me after realizing that writing helped me to make sense of the strange world surrounding me, to deal with culture shock as well as to help me organize the chaos in my head. My Central Asian adventures haven't ended yet and I am looking forward to entertaining you with some more (crazy) stories from Kyrgyzstan in the very soon future!

I am also a couchsurf host - if you're planning a trip to Naryn, let me know on here and we can take it from there :)

I am always happy to hear from my readers, so please don't hesitate to contact me if you have comments or questions, about travel tips in Central Asia or about life in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan :)

Much love,

Sonntag, 21. Oktober 2012

Ist der Ruf erst ruiniert.... (Once your reputation is ruined...)

This week has been another week of getting adjusted, struggling with Russian and trying to shake off various 18-year-old Uzbek stalker boys (some of my students) that follow me around Uni. I also taught two classes, which I actually quite liked. My students are still young, so love to play games and other activities involving drawing, guessing and singing, which makes it fun for me too. What I particularly love is how they pay attention to absolutely everything I say and are just happy that I am there to teach. I had to do a class on “family” so thought I would challenge the sometimes a little too traditional Uzbek ways of thinking and gave them the following image to discuss

 I started off the lesson with exploring what it meant to have or to be in a family, and got answers such as “love”, “affection”, “trust”. The exercise was to match descriptions of the modern family with the images and discuss in groups how these forms are different from the traditional family. They seemed relaxed until someone dared to ask what ‘homosexuell’ or ‘schwul’ meant, and they all looked at me in shock as I explained that two men or two women could actually be in a relationship. They just stared at me with the biggest eyes as if I had just told them I wasn’t from Austria but from Mars. Apart from the fact that homosexuality is illegal in Uzbekistan, I think that some of the students came from rural areas, so that homosexuality was genuinely and absolutely unheard of. When I reminded them of their answers to my question what it meant to have a family, they were like “but that’s not a family” – “Why not? There’s love, affection, trust in a relationship between men too” – “but…the relationship doesn’t have a future”. I guess an Uzbek family HAS to be productive….This lesson was a bit provocative, alright, but I explained to them that since all of them want to move to Germany, they should at least be aware that Western family structures are slightly different..

Getting a schedule for teaching also, once again, proved what I have written about in my first blog, namely: be persistent. Standing up for yourself and trying over and over again to achieve what you want is something you have to be able to do, otherwise people are either using you or you are just making it incredibly hard for yourself. I think I managed quite well, as I now have a proper schedule with the classes that I liked, and hopefully the professors that I am working with are as collaborative as anticipated. When I speak about people using you, I am referring to a situation from the other day when one of the professors asked me if I would stop by his office to help him. I had no idea what he wanted and naively thought he would just want to have a little chat about Vienna (where he had spent a few months). When I came to his office, he asked me to sit down and have a look at his resume and application for going abroad again. Having written resumes in English, I know how hard it can be to write a resume in your second language, so thought maybe he needs help with phrasing his ideas and putting his thoughts into words. Well, no. As we got to the “social competencies” section, he asked me, what shall I write here? I told him I didn’t know him and that he’s the only one who can answer these questions, but he just grinned cheekily and asked “well what would you write?” This conversation took place with almost every section, even those where he was asked what the intention of his stay abroad was. I got slightly annoyed and just told him, you have to think for yourself, I am not going to do all your work for you. He was very obviously not pleased with my help..

This week also involved getting together with Matthias (a German lecturer at my university who has been living here for a little over a year) and discussing projects that we could organize for the students. Last year they had a theatre group that was a great success, so I agreed to help him organize and motivate the students, as well as do the warm-ups with them, as I don’t really have any experience with acting and theatre in general. Matthias did however introduce me as the “dance specialist” for this year’s theatre group, meaning that I would have to come up with a little choreography for the play. Surely that’s going to be interesting, but considering how many dancing courses I have done over the past years I think it shouldn’t be a problem.
I also convinced Matthias to help me with my own project, namely a little Viennese Waltz & Quadrille course. It’s been a while that I have danced a quadrille, but I looked up the steps on the internet and I think I am confident enough to at least gather a small group of students to teach them the basics of Waltz and maybe the first two tours of the Quadrille. I’m excited and hope that I will be able to share and spread the joy of this aspect of Viennese culture :)

I suppose most of you have wondered by now what this blog’s title is referring to. Well.. I mentioned in my last blog that I “made experiences with Tashkent’s nightlife and the effects of Russian vodka (and Georgian wine)”. The night was a bit excessive alright, but what it was in the end was dancing and drinking in one of Tashkent’s student bars (and spending about half an hour looking for my jacket). On Monday morning Ulrike came to her office and her Uzbek co-worker asked “Now Ulli how has your weekend been?” followed by a cheeky and very obviously knowing smile. Apparently some of her co-worker’s friends were at that club too and told Ulli’s co-worker about it, who then recognized us as “those two German girls at the VM club”. What was even more creepy though was that, as Ulli got into a cab to go home, she was asked by the taxi driver “weren’t you and the other German girl at Al Quasr (an Arabic place) smoking shisha” …really, how RANDOM is that? I always thought that Vienna was a village, but apparently everyone seems to know about the “two German girls” in Tashkent….

We’ll see what the next weeks bring,  a little travelling is definitely planned…:)

A few more fun quotations that I would like to remember:

- Ulli, Nodi and I are currently obsessed with a little Soviet TV figure named Cheburashka (cf. We went for dinner together with Maik, a guy who worked for the Goethe Institut, and were discussing what we were going to order. Cheburashka has a very cute way of saying “ja ne snaju” Я не знаю (meaning I don’t know), so when Ulli was asked what she wanted, she said “Я не знаю” the Cheburashka way, so that our topic of conversation very quickly moved away from food. Maik, however, said “Cheburashka? Mh, I don’t think I have eaten that yet”….poor Cheburashka :)

- Our dear friend Nodi has a talent for getting some things about the German language wonderfully wrong. I can’t remember what we were talking about, but he started a story with the following line: “Ja also einmal da war ich auch in so einem Kellner”….he meant: Keller.

Much love xxx

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