Nevan Bridge, 59 years old, hometown — Mataura, high school principal
I decided to move to Kazakhstan in 2013. I worked for 27 years as a school principal in New Zealand and wanted to see new places, get to know other education systems.
To get a job abroad, I applied to an agency that helped in finding a job in other countries. So, there was an opportunity to work in Kazakhstan. I had to look at a map and find out where this country is. Although I have heard its name before.
I saw Kazakhstan is closely bordered by Russia and ranks ninth area in the world. I thought it was a unique country and would love to get to know with it while working at school.
In 2014, I was hired as the leader of the international team of teachers in the NIS of Pavlodar city. I took office in September 2014.
I flew to Pavlodar. It is a small industrial city impregnated with history, culture, traditions and the Russian-Kazakh lifestyle.
The first month in Pavlodar was a test for me. Here everything is different: medicine, transport, infrastructure, language, people and the apartment in which I lived. It is different from what I'm used to in New Zealand.
But after a month, things got better. I began to navigate in the city and make friends.
Usually, my day started with a small morning walk. I walked around the house for 40 minutes. After I went to work as the school was near my house. The school building is beautiful and new. It was built just a couple of years before my arrival.
A typical working day was held in interviews, discussions and coordination of different actions of foreign teachers. I had 19 foreign teachers under my guidance, many of them from the UK, but some came from the Philippines.
Here everything is different: medicine, transport, infrastructure, language, people and the apartment in which I livedMy responsibilities included checking of visas, medical insurance and other documentation of teachers, as well as monitoring the working condition of teachers and creating comfortable conditions for them.
The work is difficult, but I like it. I feel comfortable as a team leader.
My friends and colleagues were surprised why I chose Pavlodar, not Astana or Almaty. But I enjoyed the time spent in Pavlodar.
I met interesting young people who showed me a lot of nice places. With one friend I visited museums and watched a huge number of performances. It was amazing.
However, my favourite place was Almaty. I have been there a few times. The city is big and not as crowded as megacities in Russia. There is a special soul, a lot of places for entertainment.
About culture similarities and differences
I liked the food in Kazakhstan, especially mare's milk and horse meat. I had never tried before, so it was an unusual experience for me.
During my work in Pavlodar, I met many teenagers and students. We often talked to them about New Zealand, their parents and our school. Students appreciated they were studying at NIS, as it was an unusual state program that provided an opportunity to get a new education. I was pleasantly surprised by the training of local teachers and the level of their English. Much has been done to develop the local personnel apparatus to the required Western level. This approach is unique, it is not found in the Western world.
I was pleasantly surprised by the training of local teachers and the level of their EnglishIf we talk about the differences, New Zealand is a young country. The first New Zealanders, the Maori, moved to our country about 800-900 years ago. The first Europeans, Dutch and British arrived in New Zealand about 300 years ago, and from that date, we countdowns of our state.
Our countries have a different culture, traditions, language and state. There are only small similarities between us. New Zealanders are as hospitable, open and kind to people as Kazakhstan.
Unfortunately, I had to leave Kazakhstan. But the beauty of being an international teacher is you never know where you are going to be next. I managed to work in Kuwait City in the UAE, and now I work as a director in the Republic of El Salvador.
I plan to live in El Salvador for another five or seven years and time will tell. My dream is to return to Kazakhstan and meet with close friends, but I do not know when it will happen.
Polly Dacre, 28 years old, hometown — Porirua
I came to Kazakhstan in October 2015. At that time, I did not hear much about this country. New Zealanders do not have much information about this part of the world. They hear "stan" and immediately become alert.
I was planning to start working in South Asia, but it did not work out at the last minute. Around the same time, there was a job opportunity in Kazakhstan, so I took a chance and I'm glad I did it. The time spent in Kazakhstan is one of the best in my life. I like it here.
Almaty is incredible. I love people from all over Kazakhstan, Central Asia and the world. I like there is always something going on here, a festival, a concert or a race.
I'm from a small town, so moving to Almaty was like moving to New York — many people, shops and cafes that are open until late at night, and even snow at Christmas.
I like there are a lot of parks and families who have a walk there in the eveningsIn Almaty is easy to get to nature. I like to go to the mountains, to arrange small hikes. I like there are a lot of parks and families who have a walk there in the evenings. I feel safe and can go for a run or just walk in the park.
I miss the ocean, but changing the ocean to the mountains is a pretty good deal.
About culture similarities and differences
New Zealanders are pretty quiet. But friends in Kazakhstan always try to achieve their goals, to improve themselves. They inspire me.
Many people have their own business, visit language courses, music lessons or accounting courses. They always try to develop and be the best versions of themselves. They read books about how to succeed in life, learn to know themselves and the world around them.
One of the first differences that I noticed is how fashionable Kazakhstanis dress. On the streets of Almaty, most people are beautiful and well dressed. This makes the walk pleasant. In New Zealand sandals or flip-flops are national shoes. In the summer we wear them on the beach, in the supermarket, in the church or at a barbecue party at a friend. Here I see the slippers inside the house, next to the front door. They play the role of home shoes.
One of the first differences that I noticed is how fashionable Kazakhstanis dressI study the Kazakh language. People are often happy when I start talking to them in Kazakh. I find that funny.
The climate in Kazakhstan is quite different. In Porirua, our annual temperature range is approximately 5 to 25 degrees Celsius. I'm not used to the warm summer or cold winter before coming to Almaty. But snow is something magical! I love it and enjoy when the first snow falls.
In New Zealand, people try not to show off their achievements and special abilities. This is called high poppy syndrome when outstanding people can be envied, treated with hostility. So when my friends in Almaty first started talking about themselves, about what they were good at, I thought it was terrible and almost rude. But now I find it unusual that people are aware of their strengths and feel comfortable to confidently share it with others.
New Zealand is actively promoting environmental protection. There are many programs to protect the environment, waste management. That is why I'm a vegetarian from the age of five. It seemed to me that in Kazakhstan it will be difficult to stick to a diet, but in each cafe or restaurant, there are offers for vegetarians.
Since I live in Kazakhstan, my relatives and friends have visited me several times. We try to dispel the stereotype that Kazakhstan is a terrible country, on the contrary, it is a place that is definitely worth a visit.
I plan to continue living and working in Kazakhstan.
John Gray, 27 years old, hometown — Wellington, English teacher
I lived in Kazakhstan for only a year from December 2016 to December 2017. A friend who offered me a job at the language centre in Almaty invited me. I had a rich experience of teaching English to foreigners, and he asked me to share it.
Almaty is a beautiful city with a special atmosphere. I like how people here are in love with the mountains. In New Zealand, I was surfing, but I wanted to get on a snowboard. In Almaty, I managed to do it.
People in Almaty are different. It can be seen, that youth from all over the world comes here. The large flow of young people creates an incredible atmosphere of the city.
I like how people here are in love with the mountains
About culture similarities and differences
Kazakhstanis are more enterprising people who confidently achieve the goal. And New Zealanders are island people, accustomed to a measured life.
Our climate is milder, I think, this is also the reason for differences in character. Kazakhstanis are harsher in their behaviour, this is reflected in an unpredictable and strong climate.
I fell in love with Almaty, but so far I have no opportunity to return. I hope in the coming years I will be able to come back and walk around the city with my friends again.