24 June 2006

Things I've Learned in Kyrgyzstan

English is definitely a popular language to learn. I've even had strangers on the phone who'd try to get me to give them English lessons when they'd dialed the wrong number.

Arabic is also useful, even in a country where no one speaks Arabic, or if they do, they speak the more formal standard Arabic that I'm not comfortable with. Even in a nominally Muslim country, knowledge of Arabic is admired. No one cares much that my husband knows Spanish though.

I will never criticize or even make a comment about anything a person from another country does that I think is strange. I understand better why, for example, Arabs in the US live around other Arabs, and so on. It gets very old to have what you choose to do questioned all the time and often criticized, even little things like whether you wear socks or not. While we're not exactly typical Americans either (homeschooling certainly gets plenty of comments there, in addition to other things we do), I don't feel like I have to be careful there all the time to avoid mentioning anything that might sound odd.

Walking a mile or two to do the grocery shopping is nothing. In fact, I can't imagine getting in the car to go just a mile or two anymore. Of course, there would be times I would, if I had a newborn and lots of stuff to carry. But you could walk one way. :)

There are lots little things I didn't think much about before, like screens in the windows, clean water that comes out of the tap, and washing machines that are designed to run more than twice a week.

Hearing your children trill their R's after months of practice is a beautiful sound.

I would much prefer to have an functioning air conditioner all summer than a water heater for the month that the hot water is off.

I need a library. I didn't really learn that, since that was what I was most concerned about leaving behind. I've always been able to find something, but since the two main choices here are cheap fiction and non-fiction about Central Asia, I've read lots about Central Asia. If we are able to come back, I'll be ordering more books and buying more books no matter the price.


  1. AnonymousJune 25, 2006


    I lived in Bishkek for almost two years. You're making me homesick for Kyrgyzstan. Takes a little getting use too, but it's a great place to be. I promise you'll miss it once you leave. Looks like the Beta store recovered from the riots, at least on the outside. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I think everything has recovered from the riots (that is planning to at least), but Beta Stores certainly took a long time. Good thing we didn't know what we were missing. But I still only get there about once a month.

    I know I'll miss Bishkek; that's why we're working on finding a way to come back later this summer.

  3. Books - the best addiction to have! It is strange to hear (ahem, read) that you are at the end of this journey possibly. Very strange how time goes by at a rabbit's pace!

  4. I learned to trill my R's in my Russian class by saying the letters "P" then "D". Sort of like p-duh. I can do it and I do it at parties and stuff :)

  5. Walking is the thing I learned when in Germany. We really do sit on our rears too much in this country. (and we wonder why we're all fat!)Unfortunately, I've lost much of that -- it's too hard with so many kids. Though we do try to take the bus whenever we can. I hope you can keep up the walking wherever you end up.