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Life in kokshetau

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4/21/2013 11:37 EST

I been living here for a year teaching at Nazarbayev Intellectual School so here's some advice for anyone thinking about it.

Kokshetau is a nice little city. Quiet but many interesting and soviet experiences to be had.

What to bring. Bring your own linen and a towel or two. The local variant is really expensive and poor quality. Almost everything you could need can be found in the local markets. You cant get peanut butter, bacon, ham, turkeys. Bring your own toiletries. They have a big range but its in Russian and you won’t find everything you need. There are 5 ok local restaurants, you can get a good coffee, steak, pizza, cocktail. Bring your own laptop and electronics. Local electronics are expensive due to import taxes. Bring all the work clothes you need. The local stores sell the local fashion which has to be seen to be believed. Theres lots of snow in winter but theres no skiing or snowboarding in the region. Theres some nice spots to visit tho. Kazakh is not reliable. Some of my friends did not receive there parcels sent from home. Parcels aren’t delivered, theyre kept at the post office. The post office might also charge a customs fee to pick up your mail. The winter is not so bad. Everything is white. Most of winter is -4 degrees (-20C), only a week or two at -31 (-35C). Theres a huge range of coats, jackets, hats, scarves and gloves available. Shoes and boots are expensive. If you have boots for cold, might wanna bring them with you. The local English speaking population is tiny, some uni students. There are plenty of salons and gyms. Theres a western style gym called Aspan. Costs approx $120 mth. Most foreigners walk and bus everywhere because its a rather small central town. You can taxi around if you get someone who speaks Russian to order it. Or get a car. The local people are not smiley, but they are helpful and friendly. Foreigners are still a novelty.

If you’re coming to teach at NIS. Many keen local teachers to meet and work with. Approx 800 students K-12. There are 100+ teachers but only the English teachers (approx 20) speak English. Class sizes never more than 24 actually usually 12. The students are wonderful. The worst behaviour you get is phone use or failing to complete homework. Good salary, usually paid on time. Potential to save a pile. TWO return flights per year (to your home country only). Flights to Kazakhstan are oddly expensive and overnight layovers are common. Don’t lose your boarding pass or you won’t get your flights compensated. All apartments are within 40 min walking distance of school, actually many within 5 min. The buses are cheap. International teachers this year were allocated an English teacher as a “minder” who translated with your landlord, organises your immigration stamps and tax certificate. Unless you get a bad landlord, all your bills are paid for including internet. At school theres plasma screen, computer and projector in each classroom. Bring classroom resources and stationary (markers, stickers, bluetac). There is some a stationary store here but its not reliable eg for months only had red markers. The school cafeteria is large, airy and cheap (not Western food). Be prepared for ESL students. Because NIS is trilingual the students speak Russian in your classroom and sometimes pretend they don’t understand you. Google translate is indispensible for students and teachers! When you arrive you can decline your apartment eg if you are shown a place without a separate bedroom or top floor without elevator. The first week is the best time to demand missing items (eg vacuum. microwave that works, plates, linen, broken buzzer). Theres no home postal delivery but you can get things sent to the school. No one at the bank speaks English so you got to organise with your “minder” to come to the bank with you. The accommodation allowance is substantial but you can’t negotiate your own apartment contract. Most landlords get much more than what they would from a local tenant. There are also some reviews on NIS on the school review websites.

5/17/2013 09:18 EST

I work for this school. Don't work for them. Head Office has told all its international teachers (across Kazakhstan) that our contracts will finish in a month and we won't recieve our paid holiday leave. Not trustworthy at all, its sad and bad for Kazakhstan. I thought it was just a rumor but today had it confirmed.

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8/21/2013 04:26 EST

Thank you for posting this. Regarding TMichael's post. Can you confirm what he/she has said? Are you still in Kazakhstan? I am heading for Kazakhstan (NIS) in a couple of months.

9/16/2014 06:52 EST

Thanks for all the useful info!

Do you know any international teachers who went there with children of their own?

I am wanting to find out more information about where I would send them to school, school hours, and fees.

Thank you so much!


9/16/2014 06:56 EST

Hi :)

I'm curious, how are you finding it?

I'm thinking of going, too.


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