After spending Thanksgiving in GA, a week in Tallahassee, 5 days in Boynton Beach, 10 days in NYC, and then Christmas in Boynton, I finally travelled back to Berkeley to spend celebrate the new year. Thao, Nick, Mark, and I rang in the new year, spending the last few days in my apartment being couch potatoes.
It was around the 4th of January that I moved into my friend Bud and his sister Mary's apartment, sleeping on the couch, cleaning when they went to work, watching TV, cooking random ingredients from the fridge into some semblance of a dinner, and generally just taking it easy until my work visa was approved. It was the best month of the year! We drank beers, went hiking, laughed way too hard, and generally became even closer friends. (Because they're such great people) ;)
Finally, after I got my work visa in my passport, I was ready to do my last load of laundry, have my last dinner in the States (Mexican food), pack up all my belongings and take my leave. I'll admit I was pretty sad to be leaving my Cali family.
The first flight was from SFO to Istanbul, about 14 hours, then only a 4.5 hour flight from there to Astana, Kazakhstan. My flight arrived at around 3:30 a.m. local time. After proceeding through immigration services, I collected my bags, exited the security area, and found my company driver that brought me to the personnel camp. I always thought it would be great to have one of those drivers holding my name on a sign :)
So, I was given a key, some resident rules and guidelines, got into my room, and started to unpack. The room is pretty nice and cozy, private dorm style room with a personal bathroom.
I couldn't sleep, even though I was tired. After getting some breakfast at 6:30 in the mess hall, I eventually met up with Hashem. He's a friend of my friend's sister, and he's a few months ahead of me in the same program. Turns out he's really nice and was able to show me around, introduce me to a few people, and gave me some studs for my boots, because everything is iced over. It's cold here, but a dry cold that isn't unbearable, however it's still cold @ -18°C.
I've not been out into the city yet, and I'm excited to see new places and faces. (Although I'm an extreme novice when it comes to the Russian language.)
Until next time,