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Aktobe, Kazakhstan and NIS (Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools)

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Joined: 23 Mar 2014
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:18 pm    Post subject: Aktobe, Kazakhstan and NIS (Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools) Reply with quote

Hello teachers,
I'm seeking information about the general livability of Aktobe, Kazakhstan, and/or the climate at Nazarbayev Intellectual School there. I have what seems to be an excellent offer to teach there, but I have some concerns.
1. There seem to be mixed reviews of NIS on this forum, but the negative reviews are from other branches. Can anyone comment on the school and management of NIS Aktobe? Are they good people?
2. I plan to come alone, and that would mean needing to build up a support system with people in the area. Are there any other expats in Aktobe to hang out with?
3. Are there any English bookstores? Large supermarkets stocking Western products?
4. Safety? Proximity to emerging troubles in Russia?
Any other thoughts or comments about Aktobe would be most appreciated.
Thanks for your time.
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Joined: 04 Jul 2010
Posts: 139
Location: Kazakhstan

PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 2:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

3 year Aktobe resident and NIS admin.

1) Email the DP and or TL at NIS Aktobe, ask for the email addresses of existing teachers at the school. They are best positioned to give you feedback on the management. I am sure they will provide them. Smile

Our art teacher has a blog that is updated frequently. Many prospective teachers find it when searching for info about the city and school. He gets back to people with questions.

2) There will be well over 20 international teachers at NIS Aktobe, however, other than a few other expats at local language centers there are not too many other foreigners (western).

3) There are many large, western style supermarkets where you can pretty much find whatever you need. However, most teachers prefer using a mix of the supermarkets and indoor bazaars where the fruits, vegetables and meat is fresh. There are some English language sections at bookstores but that is it.

4) You can get to Orenburg by car in about 6 hours and plane in 1 hour. Moscow is a 2 hour flight and there are about 4/6 flights weekly by Rusline and SCAT. Transaero is starting DME service as well in the spring I believe. You need a visa to visit Russia, another poster on this board, "ComradeBL" has successfully obtained one from a consulate in KZ.

Most of the teachers feel safer in Aktobe and Kazakhstan in general for that matter than their home countries. I have been here 4 years and I have no additional safety concerns than I would have in any large city. Actually I fall into the camp that feels safer in KZ.

Hope this helps, I am happy to answer any additional questions you have.
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Joined: 28 Aug 2010
Posts: 72
Location: 'stan!

PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Teachy - Most of what kazpat said is on target.

#1 - Good calls on getting email of other NIS faculty members. I'm sure your potential colleagues will give you the good/bad/ugly and if kazpat is confident enough to say all of this to you, that should give you some insight into his character/leadership.

#2 - Short of being in Almaty or Astana, most of the provincial towns have fairly few expats. Again, why it's important to get with your colleagues and build that teamwork/trust as they will be not only your coworkers but buddies, too.

#3 - Not sure about the shopping scene directly in Aktobe, but kazpat's analysis is accurate of my shopping experiences in Kazakhstan. It's true here just as it is any just about any other country in the world, including the US/Canada/Europe, that if you shop the local economy your costs are going to be lower than buying the exports. Every town I've been has little corner shops called "doo-kens" in Kazakh or "mag-ah-zins" in Russian. The shops are going to have most of your normal food stuffs (bread, eggs, meat, cheese, candy, etc) as well as fluids both alcoholic (beer, vodka, etc) and non-alcoholic (water, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, etc). Your bigger selections are going to be in bazaars with the "zah-lone-ee" / green bazaar your best selections of produce and meats. Everything here is fairly seasonal, but much is shipped in from other parts of the former USSR/Central Asia, such as the luscious cherries from Uzbekistan and watermelons from the People's Republic of China.

#4 - Travel can be a bit of a challenge depending on the city posting. Again, kazpat can give you better on-the-ground insight on the Aktobe logistics. As for Kazakhstan as a whole, the country needs massive investment into its infrastructure. The rail system is not convenient to use as it was built during the Soviet Union and was designed in more of a zig-zag pattern over straight lines. Plus, the trains tend to run slow. Roads are mostly small two-lanes with potholes the size of Volgas. Roads are dangerous in the winter due to the snow & ice, but the benefit of winter driving is that snow & ice fills those massive holes. In some areas you can make better highway time in the winter than the summer. For any distance travel the preferred method is air.

If you're interested in traveling around the CIS, and I assume that part of the reason why you're looking to come to this part of the world is for the travel aspect, your Kazakhstani work visa will allow you to travel to just about every corner of the nation (9th largest land mass in the world). Kazakhstan's neighbors include PRC, Mongolia (kind of), Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and the Russian Federation. If you're a US citizen you can get a visa on arrival in Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia, but ONLY US citizens can get a Mongolian visa on arrival. All the other neighbors require a visa. PRC doesn't give any favoritism being close by. It's the same process if you were home. An Uzbek visa is a hassle but definitely not impossible to get. I think it runs about about $150 USD for a single entry tourist visa. The Russian Federation issues single, double, and multiple entry visas. It's fairly rare to get a multiple entry visa without having a received a single or double first, but not impossible, although I hear the government is getting tougher due to the geopolitical state of affairs. Turkmenistan is basically impossible to go.

Other former USSR states include Georgia, Armenia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Belarus, Ukraine, and the Baltic States (Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia). Baltic States are all EU and same as going to Spain, Italy, etc. Georgia, Moldova, & Ukraine all do visa on arrival. Armenia and Tajikistan do a visa on arrival but you have to pay for it or you can get it in advance. Azerbaijan requires a visa in advance and you don't want an Armenian visa/stamp in your passport. Same is true of Armenia from Azerbaijan as they are both kind of at war with each other. I've heard that Belarus will allow you to enter if you have a Russian Federation visa but I've also heard no, as well. Don't know. I'm sure others on this site can give you more specific info on visa/travel info to their respective CIS nation.

Orenburg is a pretty interesting area. It's the home of Yurgi Gagarian, who was the first human being into outer space. It's also the former capital of the KSSR and was settled by Germans with a really eclectic feel.

Hope this helps!
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