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Inkara Akhmettaeva, from Almaty, consulting company manager

Living in Spain, Valladolid


From Almaty to Valladolid

I met my future husband in Scotland while doing my undergraduate studies. He comes from a small town near Madrid, which I’d never heard of before.

First we lived in Scotland and a year later moved to Almaty to be closer to my parents and not to scramble between two countries. Then we moved to Spain in 2013.

On difficulties


Valladolid is a small city with few foreigners. Here you have to speak Spanish as neither English nor Kazakh and Russian are popular. The only words I knew in Spanish at that moment were “Hola”, “Gracias” and “Adiós”, so it was quite difficult for me. I could not go out for groceries on my own.

On work

Having moved here, I did not speak Spanish. For a year and a half I was learning Spanish in the morning and teaching English to adults and children in private language schools in the afternoon. Now I’m finishing my MA degree and working in a consulting company.

On the city life

Spain’s associated with the sun, the heat, beaches, although the city I live in is completely different. It’s colder than in Almaty. There’re fewer people than in Madrid or Barcelona, Valladolid is calm and safe. You don’t need a car or a public transport to reach somewhere.

The Spanish do value themselves, their well-being, and personal time. Having moved here five years ago we had to plan our shopping in advance. Otherwise we sometimes ran out of bread or milk. The thing is that most shops, banks and post offices close for lunch, they work until lunch on Saturdays and don’t work on Sundays. We were missing 24-hour Almaty shops.


On people

There’re many old people living in Valladolid. I was surprised to see people plan kids after 30, young people don’t tend to have children.

Spanish fathers are used to taking care of children. There’re groups of daddies strolling with children in baby buggies which is rare in Kazakhstan.

I like that the Spaniards can speak out and defend their opinion whether talking with their families or negotiating in a Parliament. Children aren’t afraid to have a different opinion.

I really love the Spaniards’ attitude to their families. A family and children come first. Families gather at their parents' once a week. We go to the countryside to spend Saturdays with my father-in-law and have a family dinner with my mother-in-law on Sundays. We start our Sunday in a bar where we have a glass of vermouth and end with playing a board game.

The Spaniards love themselves, they can relax and deal with the things making them happy

The Spaniards love themselves, they can relax and deal with the things making them happy. They neither focus on problems nor spend 12 hours a day working. Evenings and weekends are dedicated to themselves and the family.

On the Kazakh Diaspora


Kira is the only girl from Kazakhstan I’ve met since moving here. There are not so many Russians and Ukrainians in our city as well. I do miss my friends and relatives, yet we often call up and keep in touch.

There’re active Kazakh Diasporas in Madrid and Barcelona, ​​but I don’t get in touch with them for not having time due to my work and a family.

My Spanish family is really interested in Kazakh culture. Recently my father-in-law has bought a book about Kazakhstan and Kazakh traditions. Now he knows some cultural things better than me. We try to come to Kazakhstan once a year at least. My husband was delighted with Kazakhstan while living in Almaty. He’s missing Kazakhstan. He likes the way my relatives treat him. He’s keen on Kazakh cuisine and people living in Kazakhstan.

My husband was delighted with Kazakhstan while living in Almaty

On life lessons

I fell out of a habit to drink tea all the time. These days I gesticulate a lot.

I’ve learned to express my opinion to the elder or senior ones. At work we can disagree with our chief realizing that our point will definitely be taken into account. I’ve learned to prioritize tasks, I used to work all the night and cancel long-awaited meetings just because of someone asking me to help him or her at work. I’ve learned to say "No" in favor of myself.

It was circumstances and people around that changed me. I feel comfortable living here, and I see prospects and good opportunities for myself.

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