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Bc. Adéla Hajšmanová, CTU Prague,ročník 3
About the country
Location of the place
The capital of the East Kazakhstan region - Ust-Kamenogorsk lays in the Kazakh steppe, on the confluence of Irtysh and Ulba river and in the foothills of Altai mountains. (Unfortunately, it is complicated to get to the mountains for a trip.) Connection with the most important cities of Kazakhstan (Astana and Almaty) is arranged primarily by the air and railway transport, due to very long distances.
Ust-Kamenogorsk is truly post-soviet city (I don't mean it in a bad connotation, it is just characteristic). Because of a typical urban planning, a character of the buildings, a local huge industry, the athmosphere... The city is equiped by all the needed institution, shops and infrastructure and have some very nice places. (I really like the river banks of Irtysh and Ulba rivers especially around the confluence.)
Surroundings (possible trips, ...)
Semipalatinsk (city cca 200km from Ust-Kamenogorsk), Ak-baur (petroglyph area cca 25km from Ust-Kamenogorsk), Hydroelectric dam of Ust-Kamenogorsk (cca 15km Ust-Kamenogorsk), Mosque, Etno park, river bank in Ust-Kamenogorsk
D. Nazarbayev East Kazakhstan state technical university - department of architecture.
I was working on a research project in a field of historical urbanism. Firstly I had to think up a theme on my own. I spent quite a lot of time searching the sources in the libraries and the internet and created a work with a textual and graphical part which I turned in at the end of my stay. I could arrange my timetable according to me and I had a consultation with my supervisor twice a week. I attedned the lectures of History of Kazakh architecture once a week.
Salary (sufficient for local conditions?)
45,000 kzt per month is sufficient for a living in Ust-Kamenogorsk, not for the eventual trips or travelling after the training. I usually spent approximately 10,000 kzt in one week. Unfortunetely, I got all of the money in the last days of my stay, so I had to using my money for whole of my stay.
Without knowledge of any Russian, it is quite difficult to come out in Ust-Kamenogorsk. Hardly ever can speak English there, within the citizens of the city as well as university staff. Although English only was required in the o-form, the knowlegde of English of my project supervisor was basic only and we comunicated partly in English and partly in Russian.
Accommodation (price, who provided it)
The accomodation is provided and covered by the employer. It is in the university dormitory. I had a separate room which was a part of block of three rooms with a common kitchen and sanitary facilities. In the dormitory house there is a laundry for free. The dormitory is about ten minutes by walk from the university. There are two small shops within the dormitory and a supermarket is cca 800m far away from there.
Meeting IAESTE members (pick-up at the airport, organised events...)
In Ust-Kamenogorsk there is not a local subsidiary of IAESTE. I was helped by the employees and students of the university with the things of organisation. They picked me up at the airport after my arrival and helped me with all of the officialities connected with a registration at the police office and with a process that I had to pass to obtain the salary. There was the only one trip organized by the teachers from the university during whole of my stay.
Meeting other foreign students
There was the only one other trainee from IAESTE. I was not surrounded here by an international society of other trainees. But it is something what helped me get to know a local culture better and I met a lot of interesting local people there.
Sport and culture
There is not a big opportunity for the sports and cultural activities in the city. I noticed that there are some fit-centres but I was not so interested in. There is a drama theater, but of course all of the plays are in Russian. I visited a performance of a ballet ensemble, which was a guest in the city. The Pushkin Library and especially the American Corner there is a very interesting place in the city. You can meet there a lot of English speaking people, who are very kind and helpful and you can participate in a variety of activities as the debate and discussion clubs, a movie club or the other workshops and classes.
Food, local specialties
There is a cafeteria in the university and the city is full of the cafes and restaurants. Kazakh cuisine is similar to Russian - you can try there for example mantas (meat dumplings similar to pelmene) or solianka soup. You can meet the dishes from a horse or lamb meat often. A salt cheese from a horse milk and kumis (fermented horse milk) is very typical but guite hard to find. Kazakhstan has a lot of strong minorities of inhabitants, that is why you can taste here a really good Chinese, Corean, Georgian, Turkish and other cuisine.
Possibilites to communicate with the Czech Republic
I communicated with my family and friends in the Czech Republic mostly by the internet. A wifi connection was not strong in the dormitory but you can buy a sim card with a mobile data, which is quite cheap. My mobile operator's tarif for calling to the Czech Republic was expensive, so I tried to avoid calling at all.
Recommendations for students who will go to the same place
You should prepare that you will visit completely different culture with a specific way of thinking, habits and behaviour. Hardly ever can speak English here. There is not a rich cultural life in the city but you can definitely find interesting places (for example American corner). Be prepared for that everything, what should have some official process, goes very slow. (For example I obtain an invitation letter necessary for getting a visa a week before my arrival to Kazakhstan and I got the salary in the last day of my stay in Ust-Kamenogorsk.)
What not to forget with you
If your training is in the autumn as mine was, do not forget a warm clothes. But it is not a problem to buy anything what you miss.
Benefits of the internship
What I see really beneficial, is the experience with living for some time in a completely different culture and environment. I had to deal with some unexpected situations and problems in a foreign language. I learnt to communicate in Russian, that I had hardly known before and I improved my English skills as well. And thanks to the research, I was working on, I discovered for myself a part of really interesting historical architecture, I had not known before. Unfortunetely, I must say that I don't see any other proffesional benefit. My two-month stay in Kazakhstan was a big step out of my comfort zone, I improved myself in a lot of ways thanks to it and I am glad to have this opportunity.
Cooperation with IAESTE in the foreign country
A cooperation with Kazakh IAESTE was good although I can speak only about an e-mail communication with a head of Kazakh IAESTE. There is not a local subsidiary of IAESTE in Ust-Kamenogorsk and it is something what I missed in some situations. I didn't have any immediate support of the IAESTE organisation in the place of my training and I didn't have any practical information about my stay (for example about picking me up in the airport) before my arrival.
Overall experience with IAESTE
To take part of some IAESTE training I can only reccomend. It is an exeptional opportunity to experience some completely different country much more deeper than only as a tourist. You can have a look on your proffesion from different point of view and find out how it is working in a different country. This can only help you to develop yourself.
Other useful links
https://2gis.ru - offline app - the best map application for this region