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French translator for Expo 2017 in Astana

February 27th, 2016

On February 24-25th the second Expo 2017 International Participants Meeting was held in Astana where I worked as a simultaneous French-Russian interpreter. The first IPM was held in November 2014 where I worked as an English-Russian translator.

French translator for Expo 2017 in Astana

French translator for Expo 2017 in Astana

International participants were presented with the information on work progress in terms of organization of and preparation for Expo 2017 in Astana. They learned about how the construction is going, what is done in th area of marketing, ticketing, how Kazakhstan is planning on attracting millions of visitors to the Expo 2017.
The participants were very active during these two days, they asked questions about safety and security, about a possibility to have a day or even a week of African culture during Expo. After two vety intensive days they were able to see the construction site with their own eyes and get an idea of what Expo 2017 in Astana will look like.
About 10 participation countries were signed during IPM, it is expected that Expo 2017 in Astana will host about 100 countries, some will be represented as a region, international organizations and NGOs will be present as well.
I have been involved in Expo since 2012 when Kazakhstan just submitted its application dossier and hosted an Equiry Mission. Back then 2017 seem very far away and now we are at the finish line just a year away from this exciting event. I am really looking forward to Expo 2017 in Astana!

EXPO 2017 Enquiry mission visit to Astana through the eyes of interpreter

February 15th, 2012

First I would like to give some background information on the International Exhibitions Bureau (BIE) and how it is related to Astana and my work.

I am sure that many people have heard of the Universal Exhibition – for example the one for which the Eiffel Tower was built. Something similar but of a smaller scale (not a universal but a so-called recognized exhibition) is planned for 2017 and Astana is bidding to host this exhibition. Astana’s main competitor is Liege (Belgium). The decision on the host country will be made by the end of 2012 and in order to facilitate this decision the Enquiry mission visited both Astana and Liege to see if the cities are able to host several millions of visitors that will come to see the exhibitions. This is how 9 delegates of BIE found themselves in Astana in March, 12-16. It was my job to provide both simultaneous and consecutive translation during the visit. It goes without saying the programme was very tight so I will only mention events in which I was involved myself.

March, 11 – arrival day. Organizers of the visit decided to make it an “easy” day for the delegates and use some time before the official part of the visit to introduce guests to the Kazakh culture. That is why the first day was spent in Khan Shatyr, Pyramid and Palace of Independence where guests got a chance to visit the Ethnical Kazakh Village where the Kazakh traditions (including a traditional wedding, dances, jewellery, handcraft, etc) were shown.

March, 12 – beginning of the official programme

My main task on that day was to provide simultaneous translation during the presentations aimed at proving that Astana has enough capacity to host the EXPO 2017 – financial, economic, political.

March, 13 started with the meeting with the Minister of the Interior Mr.Kassymov at which the political situation in the country was discussed.

It was then followed by the excursion to the newly built TV and radio center where we were shown the future news rooms, studios and other facilities of the center.

After a number of presentations delegates left for a working lunch with the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Foreign Affairs where I was translating as well.


March, 14
was marked by the meeting with the President Mr. Nazarbayev who emphasized the political will to support the idea of EXPO 2017 being held in Astana. The delegates then visited Eurasian National university where a meeting with the Minister of Education and Science, students and academicians was planned. I graduated from this university 2 years ago and it was a very interesting feeling to come back to my alma mater not as a student but as a simultaneous translator. I continued my translation at yet another working lunch, this time with the Mayor of Astana.
March, 15 was another day of presentations on the future site of the EXPO and the future use of EXPO facilities since it is very important to invest in something that will last longer than just 3 months of the EXPO.
When I wasn’t in a booth doing simultaneous translation, I was down in the conference room to help with the consecutive English-Russian translation.

On the March, 16 together with the delegates I left for Almaty where a tour of the city and its surroundings by helicopter was organized. The official visit of the Enquiry mission finished with the internal meeting the results of which will hopefully have a positive impact on the final decision.

A week in the life of an interpreter

October 5th, 2011

Recently I received the following comment from an interpreter who is just starting his career:

Hello, Miss Snezhana. i want to be a translator and if possible, an interpreter. Since i am interested in Russian, i was surfing the web and came across your webpage. i am wondering about two things
1 being a male is a disadvantage as interpreter?
i mean people prefer females over males?
2. what is the routine as a professional interpreter? what is your schedule like?
like you get up, and practice your langauges? i mean i want to know your daily practice as a proffesional interpreter
Thank you,
Gyung

Instead of describing my daily routine and decided to describe one week of my professional life as an interpreter, from September, 5th through September, 10th, 2011

Monday: first day of simultaneous translation at the international conference on fusion energy. How did I prepare? I had a number of thesis that I looked through, I also read up on atom, nuclear physics, Rutherford and his experiments and I prepared a glossary. As always, speakers didn’t stick to their presentations so it was a pure simultaneous translation: I translate what I hear. The main topic of the conference – TOKAMAK –toroidal chamber with magnet coil.

Tuesday: second day of simultaneous translation at the international conference on fusion energy. I am getting comfortable with plasma-wall interactions and berilization process in a vacuum chamber. Topics are getting from general to more specialized.

Wednesday: third day at the same conference. Fusion, fission, lithization, tungsten – it’s just a small part of the discussion.

Thursday: consecutive translation at the Ministry of Health. Last minute call, so no preparation from my side. We speak about unified health information management system in Kazakhstan. Terms: DRG (diagnosis-related groups), HTA (health technical assessment), clinical content, etc. More of this next week.

Friday: consecutive translation for the USA Embassy Military Cooperation department. No comment on this one.

Saturday: simultaneous translation of a lecture on geopolitics for high-level officials from the Ministry of Economics and “Samruk Kazyna”. No materials available before the lecture, so again no preparation.

It’s just happened so that this week I didn’t have the materials to prepare for the meetings but normally I try to get hold some information and make myself familiar with the subject. Especially if it is a simultaneous translation.

Do I “get up, and practice my languages”? No, I don’t. I just don’t have the time for that. I get up and work. Work is the best practice ever.

As for the question whether people prefer male interpreters over females or vice versa, honestly I don’t know, I’ve only been a female interpreter.
So that’s how my week passed. After a short weekend there comes another week with both consecutive and simultaneous translation. No time to relax!

I hope my answer was useful to you, Gyung, and I wish you success in being an interpreter. It’s not easy, that’s true, but it’s lots of fun, trust me!

Conference Interpreter at Nazarbayev University

May 2nd, 2011

On April, 18-22 I worked as a conference interpreter at Nazarbayev University. I was doing simultaneous translation –  professors of Public Policy from National university of Singapore were  invited as lectors for a week long seminar for government officials.

Conference Interpreter in Astana

Seminar was divided into several parts: Professor Asher made a presentation on what makes countries grow: implications for Kazakhstan. Professor spoke about main drivers of growth, knowledge economy and knowledge management, national and firm competitiveness. Second lecture was dedicated to the public finance and budgeting, that lecture mostly covered accrual accounting in comparison to cash accounting. Pr. Asher gave many examples of international practice, including IMF code of good practices on fiscal transparency.

Next lecture was on the State Enterprise reform and on Public Private Partnership, including different models, risk classification, etc.

Two following days lectures were held by Vice dean and Associate Professor, Dr. Fritzen. His main topic was transformational leadership in the public sector with the focus on strategic triangle  of effective policy desing, effective implementation and strong stakeholder support. Participants took a great interest in that lecture, as well as in that on controlling corruption. Dr. Fritzen made his two sessions interactive, he encouraged participants to come up with the examples that are relevant to Kazakhstan.

The seminar was a great experience for me since I worked in a pair with a very experienced conference interpreter, I had a chance to learn from her and  ask for her opinion on different aspects of being an interpreter.

Russian Interpreter in Astana for ALSTOM

January 11th, 2011

Since April I’ve been involved in two projects of ALSTOM TRANSPORT in Kazakhstan. These are two strategic projects: delivery of electric locomotive and construction of tramway line in Astana. I work mostly as a technical Russian-English translator, sometimes also as a Russian-French translator since ALSTOM is a French company.

The projects are very big so we had several working groups: technical, legal, financial. I mostly work in a technical group where we talk about electric locomotive manufacturing process, about its parameters and technical description. At the beginning I didn’t know much about „locos“ – as we call electric locomotives, I saw no difference between BoBo, double BoBo and CoCo locomotives, but step by step I was getting more and more into it. Now I know why it is that important for a locomotive to have an unbalanced lateral acceleration up to 1.0 m/s2 and what impact it has on the rails and on the locomotive bogie.

But it’s not always the technicians that I translate. Sometimes we have a hectic schedule and after interpreting at the technical meeting, I have to run to a finanical one, where specialists discuss cash flow, overheads and structure of Joint Venture. I also became familiar with the notions such as P&L, CAPEX and OPEX. I might also translate at a legal meetings where I deal with words as precedent conditions, preemptive right and fundamental breach.

Everybody involved in the project worked quite hard, often without days-off and working long hours but it was worth it – on the 27th of October, 2010 in Paris there was signed the Contract by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the President of France. Now the project is officially launched which means we have more work ahead!

Simultaneous translation at the World Forum of Spiritual Culture

November 9th, 2010

I worked as a simultaneous translator at the World forum of spiritual culture which gathered people from all over the world in Astana on the 18th -20th of October, 2010.

Simultaneous translation is known as the most difficult type of translation since it is done at the same time as the speech itself. Being one of the two simultaneous translators who are located in the booth at the end of a conference room, I enter the booth, put a headset on, check a microphone, three, two, one, go: „Dear ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the world forum of spiritual culture!“. My work day starts.

I translated both from Russian into English and from English into Russian. The reports that were read mostly touched upon the concepts such as moral responsibility,power and conscience, morality and its values.
There were several difficulties connected to the translation: first of all, all the reports were read, which means that the speed was significant. Taking into account that translators had no reports at all, this was quite a challenge. Some accents also caused troubles: not only native speakers were present, so sometimes it really took some moments to get a speaker. And as a simultaneous translator you simply don’t have those moments. On the other hand, translating from Russian into English was quite easy and I would even say relaxing. The big advantage of the simultaneous translation is that there is no need to memorize anything as a translator is only 2-3 words behind a speaker. Another important thing is that the translators (who always work in pair) change every 15 minutes, that also gives some time for recovery. Report after report, we made it to the lunch break and a couple of hours later to the end of the forum.

In other words, simultaneous translation is no doubt a challenge but it is also a pleasure when you realize that the audience is satisfied with what it has been hearing in the headphones for the whole day :)

Working for Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine

September 30th, 2010

The other day I received a request for interpreting services for the interview with the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, Mr. Karim Massimov. I was contacted by Fabio Ferlito, the Project Development Director of Business Focus, the London based communication agency aiming to publish a report on Kazakhstan’s growing economy in Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine.

English russian translation for Prime Minister of Kazakhstan

We met with Fabio a couple of hours before the interview so that he could give me more information regarding the magazine and the interview itself. Having done so, we went to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we were then accompanied to the Government House where the interview was held.

The interview started and it turned out that the Prime Minister spoke perfect English so there was not much for me to do. I will not say what were the Prime Minister’s answers because this should be read on the pages of the Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine :) But this was not the end of the day, the interview was followed by another meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also by a number of interviews with the Cabinet of Ministers which were still to be arranged.

I worked some more days with Fabio, more as an English speaking assistant rather then interpreter. I made some calls on his behalf, searched for the information that was only available in Russian, communicated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to arrange visa issues, etc.

Fabio’s visit to Kazakhstan (first visit but hopefully not the last one) coincided with the Astana Day which is July, 6th , so we had a chance to participate in this huge celebration with lots of people, music, light, shashlyk and overall fun.

Once the first steps were taken, Fabio left Kazakhstan and his colleagues came here to continue his work on the project which will probably last for a couple of months. Hopefully soon all those 4,7 million people that read BusinessWeek worldwide will be able to find out more about our country, its economy, political policy and reach resourses.

Another excursion translation in Astana

April 27th, 2010

Last Sunday I was translating the city tour in Astana, as usually I worked with the tour guide Elena and I was glad to open a new season of excursions 2010.

We started from the hotel Grand Park Esil, where our guest from UEA was located, we showed him all the sightseeing of Astana on the right bank: Old square, Respublic avenue, the Catholic Church, Synagogue, the Memorial to Afghan soldiers, etc.

Sightseeing of Astana. Excursion translation in Astana

Our first stop was at the Russian Orthodox Church, which seem to be very interesting to our guest, since he has never been to a Russian church before. In addition, we could witness the wedding ceremony at the church. We explained to our guest, why people put candles in this or that place, why the church is decorated like it is, etc. We took pictures and moved on.

Next stop was the Islamic culture center, which was built in 2005 and was sponsored by the Emir of Qatar. The Islamic culture center consists of a mosque Nur-Astana, madrasah and a library.

After that we went to Baiterek from which we could see a nice view of the city: Palace of Peace and Accord, Khan Shatyry, House of Ministries, the Residence of the President, both old and new parts of the city.

Our final stop was at the Presidential center of culture, where we visited ethnographical and hystorical halls of the museum. It was very interesting to see a real yurta (an authentic habitat of nomads) with all its decoration, traditional kazakh clothes and traditional jewelry. We were very pleased that our guest asked questions and that he took a keen interest in the traditions and mentality of our country. In my opinion, this is the best result of an excursion!

French-Russian translation: the film on Kazakhstan

April 1st, 2010

As mentioned previously, I worked as a French-Russian interpreter for the French journalists Jean- Marc Gresta and Julien Monteaux when they were filming in Kazakhstan. We worked closely during one week, we visited sightseeings in Astana, drove to Borovoe -a resort not far from Astana, had several meetings and interview.

Sightseeings in Astana

Now I am glad to say that the film is ready and is available on the Internet. The film covers a whole range of issues, from Astana being a new modern capital to the Assembly of the United Nations World Touristic Organization which was held in Astana in October 2009. But the main focus of the film is the spatial development of Kazakhstan. The French jouralists also filmed in Baikonur, and the launch of the spacecraft is a spectacular view.

Baikonur. Film on Kazakhstan

Another aspect of the film is the French-Kazakh relations.

„The visit of the President of France in the beginning of October 2009 really marked an important stage of the strategic partnership between France and Kazakhstan.“ Stephan Janichewski, Associate Director General of CNES

I hope that thanks to that film people will learn more about Kazakhstan, its past and future.

Translation at the fair AGRITEK 2010

March 23rd, 2010

I just finished translating at the agriculture fair Agritek 2010 which was held in Astana on the 17-19 of March. I was translating Per Vinther, the representative of Unibolt company, located in Denmark.

Agriculture in Kazakhstan

Mr.Vinther had kindly provided me with information on bolts and other coldformed solutions which was very helpful. I have learned about nuts, screws, washers as well as different ways of placing a bolt into a wheel, etc. These couple days were very productive for us: not only did we go to the fair, but we also contacted several companies which would be interested in what we were to offer them.

Some people don’t know that Kazakhstan is the 9th largest country in the world, so we can produce more wheat than several european countries together. That’s why the agriculture market is very big here. The problem is that foreign people expect kazakhstani companies that need agricultural mashinery for example to be on the Internet and have their home pages with contact details. But that’s not the case here. Internet has only been around for several years and usually those who are older than 50 don’t know how to use computer. I don’t what people to have a negative impression on Kazakhstan, but this is how it is. I am sure, this situation will be slowly changing but for now I can only recommend two things: first, don’t google in English, google in Russian. Second, don’t send an email in English, send it in Russian, otherwise in 99% you will not be replied.

As for Mr.Vinther, we have found together the companies he needed and hopefully we will work together again when he arranges the meetings with these companies.

Interpreting at the Ministry of Agriculture -Part 2

March 20th, 2010

It is always nice to see people that I have already translated for coming back to Kazakhstan. This was the case with the representatives of INKOA company. They needed to specify several things regarding the future contract, so that means that I was translating at the Ministry of Agriculture again.

Interpreter Astana

Similar to the previous time we worked long hours but our work was rewarded-we are now one step closer to singing the contract. This time I had to deal with technical part of the contract, such as the number of greenhouses, crop rotation, wind and snow resistance. I also translated from English to Russian and vice versa both legal and financial sides of the contract. And here was the tricky part: we were talking about the taxes which are very different in Kazakhstan and in Spain. I have learned a lot about Corporate Income tax, Branch Income tax, and others.

Being an interpreter is not easy, that I can be honest about. While there were 3 people, each knowing his or her sphere, I had to be an expert in all spheres. That means I have to know at least something about everything. That is why I enjoy my work so much. I really do.

So this assignment is over for the next month or so and hopefully next time I wil write about singing the contract!

Becoming an interpreter

March 11th, 2010

Several days ago I was contacted by a girl named Diana, who is studing to become an interpreter and translator. She asked me if I had a specific method of learning English and what I had done in order to become an interpreter. So instead of sending her back an email I decided to put my thoughts into an article, hoping that this might be somehow useful for other students.

So, Diana, here are my answers to your questions: first of all, I don’t have any specific methods of learning English, no secrets, trust me. But there are some things that I could recommend you.

Most important- read a lot. And not only in English. In order to become a really good interpreter, you should be in command of at least two languages: foreign and native one. So while studying English, don’t forget about Russian (or about Kazakh). You should be able of speaking very smoothly, without words such „well“, „errr..“, „you know.. “, you should know many synonyms, so if one word doesn’t come up easily to your mind, you have 3 or 5 others of the same meaning. Grammar and spelling should always be paid attention to, in both languages again. The easiest way, in my opinion, is to achieve it by reading. Read more »

Negotiations at the Ministry of Tourism and Sport

February 28th, 2010

The whole week I’ve been translating negotiations at the Ministry of Tourism and Sport, where the Vice Minister Uskenbaev had meetings with Judith Luscomb, the representative of the Buzz Buziness, the film production company.

English interpreters of kazakhstan

There was made an offer to make a documentary film on Kazakhstan which would show the country in all its beauty, both in winter and in summer. The documentary would touch various topics, such as history and religion, handcrafts and culture, adventures and ecotourism, local traditions and kazakh food. There was elaborated a very detailed plan of filming and Vice Minister as well as the Committee Chairperson seemed to like the idea.

At the next meeting they went into more details about tender processing and legal issues. With such a big project one should take every detail into consideration. My translation went rather smoothly since I am quite familiar with the tender processing in Kazakstan. The next day we met with the chief accountant and went through the whole project again, this time focusing on figures.

While translating presentation from English to Russian I was thinking about interpreter’s role in negotiations. Not only should he/she translate word for word thus delivering the message, it is also extremely important to use the right intonation, gestures, smiles and pauses. What the outcome of the negotiations would be if the presentation is done perfectly in English but it looks pale when translated into Russian because of an interpreter? So I came to a conclusion that an interpreter should also know the bacics of marketing and branding, as well as pchycology. It’s not only the matter of language skills, it’as also about the right personality.

With Judith we also did some shopping because she was interested in purchasing some traditional kazakh clothes. Hats were her favoutire item :) Well, kazakh traditional hats are something!

I also did some written translation for Judith since she needed me to translate some official letters to the Ministry. In general it was a very exciting assignment since the topic – mass media- was both familiar and interesting.

Translation for Greek companies in Astana

December 16th, 2009

Last Friday I was translating at the business forum where different Greek companies were presented: marble, olive oil, furs, doors and windows… one could find anything there. I translated to Mr. Alexander Dimitriadis, Managing Director of Balkan company and also I helped Mr. Vasilis Giannakis, who represented another marble manufacturing company.

I already have experience in geology related translation, so words like „quarry“, „shear strength“, „porosity“ and the like were familiar to me. But there is always something new (for example, the term „slab“): Mr. Dimitriadis was so kind that explained to me difference between several types of marble: polished or ancient, with ot without fossils, more strong or more vulnerable and so on. He also had samples of about 20 types of marble from oll over the world: from his own quarries in Greece and from other countries such as Iran, Turkey, India. I was particularly attracted by the so called Snow White marble (the most expensive, it turned out :) ).

There weren’t too many visitors on that day, but those who did appear were real professionals in marble industry: they knew what they needed and what they were looking for.

After the exibition we went on the short excursion in Astana, visited Baiterek and several construction sites where marble was used.

Why I really like being a translator in Kazakhstan, is because I can always meet people from various parts of the world with different background and mentality. After rendering my translation services back on Friday, I knew a little more about Greece, marble and maybe even more Kazakhstan and its advantages over other countries.

Translation for the British tour operators

November 15th, 2009

Last week I worked again as an English-Russian interpreter. There was a so-called info-tour for the tour operators from the UK and we spent the whole day on excursion in Astana.

Our tour in Astana started with the visit of ALZHIR (russian acronym that stands for the Akmolinsk camp for the wives of treators of motherland) that was established in what is now settlement Malinovka back in 1937. Our tour guide Elena told us the story of the establishment of this camp, about the women that were sent there and about their harsh lives in the camp. As a translator I sometimes face some difficulties when translating the realities of Kazakhstan (or in this case these of Soviet Union). But even in cases when I can’t use word for word translation, I turn to the descriptive translation. Our guest from the UK were astonished since they had no idea such thing as the camp for wives of treators existed in Soviet Union. We visited the museum in Malinovka that showed how women survived in that camp. I am sure that this excursion touched everyone’s heart beacause I could easily see the shock in our visitors eyes. Every time I go to this museum I am reminded of the black period in history of our country that became the second motherland for million people sent to the exile. Almost every family knows what „Stalin’s repressions“ mean and not only from the textbooks…

After such an emotional start of our excursion we came back to Astana, had lunch with our guests and continued our tour on the left bank. After visiting Baiterek we drove to the Palace of Independance. We stopped by the newly opened monument „Kazakh Eli“ which means „Kazakh people“ and then went inside the Palace, where we were shown the model of Astana and where we watched a short 4D movie about Kazakhstan and its heart-Astana.

We also went on excursion in the Palace of Peace and Accord that is situated right in front of the Palace of Independance. We visited the hall where the Congress of leaders of world and traditional religions is always held.

Our excursion was extremely intensive, we visited almost all the sightseeings of Astana and our guests seemed to be very impressed.

Technical translation services in Kazakhstan

May 12th, 2009

I’ve recently come back from Germany where I have studied for 6 months as an exchange  language student.

Had  I barely come through culture shock when a representative of a consulting company contacted me regarding remote translation services. Next day I got a document which consisted of 106 pages. The  topic is technical and it concerns the  reconstruction of the power plant in Southern Kazakhstan.

First I was a bit scared because I had never dealt with technical wording like “impeller”, “rotary-blade system”, “hydraulic unit” and so on.  So I had to consult some handbooks and dictionaries.  The more I was workin on this translation the more  confident I was getting.  Also the same words were repeated several times so I got to learn those words without puttting any effords into it.

There was a problem I tackled- from a  synonymic set of terms I had to pick up the right one. It’s a bit difficult when one isn’t very good at this specific field of knowledge.

When translating the document I realised how important it was for a translator to be a specialist not only in  grammar, syntax or vocabulary but also in the various fields of knowledge he or she has to deal with.

Some tips for foreigners in Kazakhstan

January 27th, 2009

Kazakhstan is becoming more anf more attractive to foreigners that is the reason why translators have more and more work. From the 19th to 27th of January I translated from english to russian for an american who came to visit Astana. He must be bery courageous to go to Kazakhstan in the middle of the winter.

We got to know each other at the airport where I came to meet him. Good thing that I did it otherwise he wouldn’t be able to change his money as the girls at the information desk couldn’t understand his southern accent (at the beginning I had a hard time with understanding him, too, I must admit).

I took him to the hotel and showed him around so he could get his breakfast at least. Usually foreigners who come to Kazakhstan for the first time (especially those who have never been outside of Europe or the USA) have a big culture shock. Everything is way too different from what they are used to: beginning with weather and food and finishing with mentality and norms of behavour. In that very moment when one is in a foreign country where people speak the language that he or she doesn’t understand, translator becomes the best friend. Translator is not a person who just transforms a speach from one language to another. He or she is the one who helps to solve all the problem, one who can explain many things that are natural in this specific country but unknown to foreigners.

So after showing where he can get an american food (keep in mind it is close to impossible to find a decent american food in Kazakstan), I explained to Richard that he needed to get registered at the Migration Police even if he was going to stay in Kazakhstan no more then 10 days. The proceedure of getting registered is quite irritating and long-lasting but it should be done anyway and the sooner the better (during the first 5 days of the stay in the country).

Richard’s clothes were not very suitable for Kazakhstan’s winter that is why we went to a shopping centre and got him all he needed.

Another important thing that one can’t live without in a foreign country is a mobile phone with a valid SIM card so we had to get Richard one.

The first day is usually the busiest one. Everyone gets tired and wants to get some rest. Richard’s flight from Los Angelos was exausting so I left him at the hotel, gave him my mobile phone number and told him not to hesitate to contact me whenever he needs it.

No Language – No Freedom!

December 2nd, 2008

Let me share my experience with you: if you are in a foreign country and you don’t know the language spoken in this country- you are totally dependent – that is exactly what I understood being as an exchange in Germany. Local people give you no respect no matter how smart you are. It takes you much effort to do  some basic things: starting from charging your sell phone with money and finishing with registration at the migration police.

Even if you had  an intensive course of a foreign language before your trip and you can say “Help me please!”  it was not garantied  that you would be understood. Even a  phrasebook  is of a little help. Sure you can ask how to find way to your hotel but can you be sure that you will understand the answer? Good thing if  you came from one european country to another. Languages can be different but there are still many similarities  (not only in terms of languages by the way).Now imagine you go to China….Can you grasp 4 tonalities? In order for you to feel lost you don’t even need to go to China and deel with its specific signs.  Try to go to a country where another alphabet is used.  If you are not familiar with cyrillica, you can’t even read the street names in most of  FSU countries.

That’s all well-known information but still – if you go to a foreign country make sure you know at least some elementary phrases and you can pronounce them correctly.
Thank God almost everyone speaks English in Germany otherwise I won’t be able to communicate. Though I have a German course it takes much time to come to a level of expressing your thoughts freely. Hopefully by the end of my trip in Germany I will have talked to German peolpe in their native language.
To sum up I can say that the more languages one speak the more useful it is. Also the more languages one understands the easier the process of studying a new one goes.

I’m  just wondering if the principe “Quality not quantity” can be applied to languages?

Education differences: Kazakhstan and Germany.

October 10th, 2008



Being a third-year student in Eurasian National University in Kazakhstan, I obtained a european scholarship named Erasmus Mundus and came to Germany to improve my knowledge of English linguistics and literature. I just started studying at Freie Universität Berlin but I can already tell the difference between two systems of education.

Germany

Germany

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan

1. There is more freedom in terms of what you study and how much. Students can choose whatever they want: there is always an opportunity to take a course in politics even if the major is philologie. 1. All courses are compulsory.
2. There are no fixed groups, every student has his own schedule that he can change on his own. There is a tendency to individualism. 2. Groups are formed of 15-25 students (depending on a major) that study together all the time. There is a schedule for the whole group for the whole period of study. Groupmates spend lots of time together not only at university but also go out very often. Thus in 4 years they become good friends and keep in touch after graduating from university.
3. There is no fixed time of graduation from university. Courses can be taken as many times as needed, exams can be delaid. In my opinion it is not always good to have no restrictions at all. Sometimes student graduate from university being 30-year old. At this age they only start building their career. 3. Everyone is supposed to study 4 years (except for those who are going to become doctors). Course can be taken one more time in case of failing an exam. Exams can only be postponed in case of disease. Usually students graduate from university at the age of 22-23. Bachelor degree is enough to get a highly-paid job.
4. Professors can be argued with. The atmosphere in the classroom is too liberal: students can eat and drink in front of a professor. 4. Professors are regarded as authorities whose opinion can not be wrong. Students’ attitude to professors is very respectful.
5. Personal relationships are not involved in final assessment: when a term paper is being read professor has no idea who this work belongs to. Sometimes it happens that a professor doesn’t know names of all his students. 5. Personal relationships have a lot to do with the final assessment especially when it comes down to oral examinations. Professors and students can be very close though there is always a distance between them.
6. Most students study 4-5 days a week and have 3-4 lectures or seminars a day. Each class lasts 1,5 hour. Homework is not given. Everyone has clear understanding of what he is going to listen to on a lecture. Handouts are available couple days before the lecture, they can be printed and read before hand. 6. Everyone studies 6 days a week and has about 5-6 classes a day each of those is 50 minutes long. Homework is something thar every student is supposed to do every day. Material given on a lecture is absolutely new to students. Notetaking is compulsory.

To conclude, it can be said that though a new system of education was introduced in Kazakhstan about 5 years ago, it still looks a lot like an old soviet system (not necesserily bad one). For me it is a great chance to get to know a western system with all its freedom and innovative technologies. But there are usually two sides of the medal that I am sure I’ll face.

Accommodation in Astana – information for foreigners

June 15th, 2008

Accomodation is what one looks for when comes to Astana from abroad-that’s obvious. Some people ask translators to help in finding a right place, some people find it on their own.

In most cases a foreigner will go for a hotel, but there is still a big number of those who want to cook themselves and feel a bit more like at home, then they seek for a serviced apartment, apartment for daily rent. What I want to do here is to help those who try to find an apartment or a hotel using the internet.

Why would one chose an apartment and not a hotel room-that’s the first question. In my opinion one can feel freer in an apartment rather than in a hotel room. Usually all rooms in a hotel are standartized and really have no face. Apartments can be very different, with different number of rooms, with kitchen and balcon. Those who travel with their family find it very comfortable in an apartment taking into account the possibility of cooking and less strict conditions of the stay. There are some services that go along with the apartment: from arranging the transfer from the airport to making laundry and ironing. Hotels, on the other hand, have their own advantages. No matter what one chooses, it is easier to arrange the accomodation with the help of Apartamenty.kz, which  contains the big choice of apartments and hotels in Astana and other cities in Kazakhstan.