University of Wisconsin–Madison

Two Weeks and Counting

3:15 PM CDT, June 4, 2015 – Madison, Wisconsin, USA

In just two weeks I’ll be boarding a plane and leaving the United States, never to return. Just kidding. I will be flying out of the states in two weeks, though. What started out as a crazy idea over a year ago has somehow morphed into reality and now, for the majority of the summer, I’ll be studying Russian in Kazakhstan. I’ll be living with a host family in Almaty, the most populous city in the country, and taking classes at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University (KazNU) in the Department of Philology, Literary Studies and World Languages. We’ll be covering all of fourth year Russian in eight weeks so I’ll have my fair share of studying cut out for me. My studies will no doubt be punctuated by all of the beautiful sights and fun activities Kazakhstan has to offer.

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For a little backstory on how I wound up in this position, you can check my Wikipedia page. Alright, so I don’t have a Wikipedia page, but you have to admit, that would be pretty cool. Anyways, my one true passion in life has always been astronomy, and my desire to become an astronaut stemmed from that. Because NASA works so closely with their Russian counterparts, being fluent in Russian is a necessity for US astronauts. So the first class I signed up for at UW-Madison was Russian. Six semesters later and here I am.

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I’m incredibly excited for a lot of different aspects of Kazakhstan. For starters, Almaty is flanked by a series of mountains and Ile-Alatau National Park, which I will definitely be visiting at some point, even if I have to walk there myself. Without sounding too much like a tourist agency, the city has a ton of stuff to see and things to do including parks, museums, music venues, restaurants, and nightclubs. It’s home to over a million people so there’s more than enough to explore and experience. Culturally, there are very few similarities between Kazakh and American society (so I’ve been told). I’m really looking forward to experiencing the Kazakh way of life in full and truly immersing myself in their culture.

Overall, I’m very eager to get to Almaty and meet my host family. I’m really looking forward to all of the adventures that lie ahead and sharing my experiences with anyone who finds their way onto this blog.

Thanks for reading!

Garrett