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Colombians in Kazakhstan about the role of family, new opportunities and love for small towns


Colombians in Kazakhstan about the role of family, new opportunities and love for small towns

Manuel Ortega, 39 years old, hometown — Bogota, Colombia, math teacher


About moving

I live in Kazakhstan for the third year. In October 2016, a friend of mine from Colombia working in Shymkent told me about a teacher vacancy. It was a great offer, and I was interested to learn something useful in a new place. Now I work as a mathematics teacher in NIS in Pavlodar.

About Kazakhstan

I live in Pavlodar, in Usolka, distinctive feature of which its proximity to the river. Here you can see the amazing beauty of sunsets. Also, my favourite place is the embankment. This is a wonderful place for walks. Pavlodar is a cosy and quiet city, that's why I love it.

My wife and I met good people here who are always eager to help or just talk. People feel comfortable around us, and if they want to practice English, they just start talking.

In addition to working at the school, we spend time with friends at home or meet new people. Basically, we do everything together because the language barrier is quite large. We support each other and learn Russian.

Angelica and Manuel.jpg

We work from Monday to Saturday till five in the evening. We spend most of our time at school. I teach mathematics in 10 and 11 grades and help some groups prepare for the final test. On weekdays I like to relax in the pool, and on Sunny days ride a bike, go out of town. If the weather is cloudy, go to a cafe and read or study.

About culture similarities and differences

The main similarity between our cultures is the family. In Kazakhstan, as well as in Colombia, the family, is not only parents, brothers and sister, but also grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins. All of them are important and have a special place in life.

The main similarity between our cultures is the family

Kazakhstanis, as well as Colombians, are hospitable. We appreciate every guest and try to meet guests at the highest level.

The difference is our emotionality. Colombians are expressive and optimistic. I do not want to say that this is not the case in Kazakhstan, but they behave this way only among close people. Colombians are friendly, always smiling even to strangers on the bus. In Kazakhstan, people often surprisingly look at us when we smile.

About plans

I would like to continue living in Pavlodar and see how the city will grow. Life is unpredictable, and who knows what tomorrow is going to be like. I like Kazakhstan and would like to live here as long as I can freely visit my relatives in Colombia.

Andres Morano, 28 years old, hometown — Bogota, freelancer


About the trip

In the summer of 2018, I went on a little trip to Asia. I had a plan to visit Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China. I have always been attracted to Asian culture and its diversity. I knew that the Kazakhs the descendants of the nomadic people, and the Chinese are the heirs of the ancient Empire. I wanted to see a modern version of these great countries.

About Kazakhstan

I visited a wonderful Almaty. It is a cosy and warm city with good-natured people, and the mountains are its main highlight.

I lived in one of the hostels in Almaty. Almaty has a lot of them, and many of them presented on the Booking and Airbnb services, which indicates a good level of tourism.

Kazakhstan made a strong impression as it is an independent country with developed infrastructure and incredible nature. I lived in the largest city in the country, but I want to believe that all of Kazakhstan is as beautiful as Almaty.

I went on a small hike in the mountains, rode on Medeu, saw Charyn Canyon. I read that Kazakhstan is a country of steppes, but the country is full of other natural wonders.

Food is a big plus of city life in Almaty

Food is a big plus of city life in Almaty. Restaurants and cafes are on every corner for any budget. You can taste delicious European cuisine or try street food, such as doner.

About culture similarities and differences

Kazakhs are more uptight than Colombians. No matter how famous Kazakhs are for hospitality for them it's difficult to show a wide smile to a stranger. I think it's a difference in mentality. Kazakhstanis are not ready to open up to everyone, but if they get to know a person better, you can see a completely different person, full of different emotions.

Kazakh food is peculiar, I think it will be exotic for people from distant countries. I was crazy about kurt and the baursaks.

About plans

I have heard a lot about Astana and its incredible buildings. Travelling to Kazakhstan is not cheap, but one day I will return again to learn a little more about this beautiful country.

Angelica Burgos, 26 years old, hometown — Bogota, Colombia, English teacher


About moving

I have lived in Kazakhstan since 2017. I moved here a year after my husband started working in NIS.

About Kazakhstan

I work at Nazarbayev Intellectual School as an English teacher as my husband.

I teach English to 11 grade and help students pass IELTS. After the working day, we like any other teacher relax in a calm atmosphere. Once a week we take Russian lessons. We need this in order to communicate more freely with people who are interested in learning Spanish.

Together with friends on weekends we play games or watch movies.

I like Pavlodar because it is a small city where you can easily reach any area in 20-30 minutes. My husband and I come from a large city, where the road takes more than two hours, along with traffic jams. The opportunity to go to the Mall, a cafe, and then walk along the river within the hour is amazing.

I loved the coffee shop in Pavlodar. I have a nice tradition to go to the coffee shop after lunch for a couple of delicious coffee cups and read a book.

People in Kazakhstan are nice. They like to see new faces and be with us. They ask a lot of questions because they are interested in another culture. I was surprised that most people knew so much about Colombia. Some even know the names of the football players of the 90s.

About culture similarities and differences

Kazakhstanis, as well as Colombians, curious. We also try to meet new people, learn a new culture and get to know the world around us.

Colombians — active people and spend a lot of time outdoors

The main difference for me is the weather. Colombians — active people and spend a lot of time outdoors. I think Kazakhstanis spend too much time at home. But I understand the reasons, I survived the harsh winter of Kazakhstan. During the frosty day, the best decision is to stay at home.

About plans

This move opened a lot of doors for us. I would like to explore Asia further.

A couple more years of travel will be enough for us. We have been to other cities of Kazakhstan besides Pavlodar, but after four years of travel, it is necessary to return home. However, I am grateful for how much I learned in Kazakhstan.

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