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Kazakhstan

Kaz

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Lisa Ă–ller


Home country

Austria

Internship city and country

Almaty, Kazakhstan

Internship employer

Kazakh National University

University study field

Biotechnology

Year of internship

2016

Internship length

8 weeks


Work

I worked in KAZNU, the biggest university in Kazakhstan in the Microecology laboratory. On my first day I was warmly welcomed and immediately felt at home in my new group of colleagues. Although the equipment and some procedures were quite different from the labs where I had worked before, I developed a routine quite soon. My task was to microbiologically analyse water samples from all over Kazakhstan and to find out if they were contaminated with certain pathogens. However, there weren’t always a lot of samples, so I also helped my supervisor, a nice PhD student with a project dealing with bacterial cellulose. The working environment was really nice and I was invited to at least one cup of tea per day! However, in August and September it was still holiday time for the Kazakh students and so also the lab people were not so active and sometimes I just had a free afternoon. It was definitely a plus that I could speak basic Russian, because some of my colleagues were not so good or maybe just too shy to speak English. Furthermore, all the chemicals in the lab were only marked with Cyrillic letters. Most of my colleagues however, were happy to speak English with me and also students from other labs came to our room from time to time to practice English with me.

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Experience

I had a lot of free time in Kazakhstan, but it was never boring. During the week we explored the city of Almaty. Together with the other IAESTE trainees from all over the world, Irina (who is working for IAESTE) and some Kazakh people volunteering for IAESTE we went to different restaurants and bars, discovered museums, enjoyed traditional and modern Kazakh music and had a look at the sights of the city as for example the green market, the hill Koktobe or the first president park. On the weekends IAESTE organised different trips for us. Usually we went by bus to some cool place in nature as for example the Issyk Lake or the Charyn Canyon. After some time, however we started together with our new Kazakh friends to organise more adventurous excursions. We hiked up the mountains up to 3500 metres and once we even went to a glacier and an amazing glacier lake. After hiking we even went to a real „Russian “Spa, which was also a very interesting experience ;-) Another weekend we went to a sport shop, rented tents, sleeping bags and mats and went up the mountain to camp there. That was such a great feeling to be in the middle of nowhere with a group of people from all over the world just having a good time. At the end of our internships we still had some time left and so a group of 4 IAESTE trainees decided to do a car trip around Almaty. In these 5 days we saw so many beautiful but completely different landscapes and we were just amazed by the beauty of this big country. Although it was not always easy to find the right way it was a great adventure and I am so glad that we were brave enough to drive on these endless roads.

Discover

This summer was one of the best in my life and I am really happy that IAESTE gave the opportunity to go to this interesting, beautiful country. While talking to my colleagues and my new friends from Kazakhstan I could understand their culture and society much better than a „normal “tourist can. It was great to be a part of this international trainee group- we had a lot of fun and created valuable friendships. When I have a look at the pictures I am still amazed by the beauty of this country and especially by its diversity. Although I didn’t become rich in this internship it was an enriching experience that I wish everybody – because getting to know other cultures makes you really rich.