Two Years in Kyrgyzstan

“And look at where we are,” I said to Farrell yesterday as I reminded him of our moving-to-Bishkek anniversary, referring to how much has changed since August 15, 2010, when we first landed here (or even just one year ago).

“Yeah,” he said, not looking up from his computer. “Writing the same damn proposals.”

Things are immensely different from when we first moved here. I’m going to take a moment and toot my own horn and brag about the fact that two years ago, I had no idea what I was doing here. I had no idea what it meant for Farrell and I to own a business, I had no clear idea of what our business would do, and I had no idea how to start it and no idea if any of these efforts would be taken seriously. Now we’re currently working on four projects with real companies and real international organizations, who are paying us to do real work. We have several full-time employees, international consultants, dozens of fieldworkers and a huge network of contacts. People do, in fact, take us seriously. And now I’m 100% sure about what our business does.

We’re living better and more comfortably than ever. Part of that is because now I know how to find things that improve my daily life, like brown sugar, good coffee, or certain cooking tools. Part of that is because I live in the most awesome house I’ll probably ever live in. Ever. (We just signed another six-month lease! Even though our housemates are leaving, our landlord agreed to let us stay for less rent.) And part of it is just the normal familiarity of my usual routines after two years.

Umm… I’m still not fluent in Russian. Sorry. But my comprehension is pretty good and I can eventually work my way through a conversation. And I would say my Kyrgyz vocabulary is probably in the dozens-of-words-range by now.

Something that is constantly changing is the people that are here. That’s just how expat life is, people move here for a few months or maybe a few years. Maybe our paths cross and we become great friends, but nobody really seems intent on staying here forever, so it’s been hard to have to say goodbye to people who aren’t just friends for the sake of convenience (oh, you speak English? Let’s hang out!), but are true friends. That’s probably the worst part of the uncertainty of living abroad; when someone you’ve spent so much time with is suddenly moving back to whatever random spot on the globe, how will I know if I’ll ever see them again? It’s one thing to travel back and forth from the US and Kyrgyzstan to visit family and friends, but what about when you have friends in Belgium, France, Denmark, the UK, Italy, South America, Turkey, or Australia? At the same time, if I’m going to continue to commit to living in Bishkek, I have to put in the effort to make new friends (luckily, this blog is helping me find them). It’s an ever rotating cast of characters in my life.

Overall I think I feel much… I’m not even sure how to describe it. Calmer? Living in Kyrgyzstan seems like the most normal thing in the world for me and I feel much more relaxed about how it might come off to other people. Kyrgyzstan is no longer just a mixture of all these sensational media headlines (bride-napping! ethnic riots! revolution!) and travel guides (fermented horse milk! yurts! nomads!), it’s a real and dynamic place to be.

I’m fairly positive that we will definitely complete a third year in Bishkek, but who knows what’s after that. I’m happy to have been able to create this outlet to document my life and share it with people and I hope you all continue to read about whatever happens next!

Cheers to Year Three!

One reply on “Two Years in Kyrgyzstan”

  1. Just wanted to let you know that I found your blog through your Glimpse article and have enjoyed reading it for the past few months now. As someone who has traveled and lived abroad and is interested in doing it again, I appreciate your honest posts on life in a country so different from your own. Thanks and keep it up!

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