I recently completed a one-year contract position at a university in Kazakhstan, and I’d like to talk a little about my experience.
If you’re interested in my reactions more generally to my year abroad, also check out my travel blog, In No Sense Abroad.
First, I consider myself lucky to have been born in the U.S. where, even if things aren’t perfect, we can at least fight to make them better. My husband pointed out to me last week that all of a sudden I was acting very patriotic about this country, when after a few visits to the UK and Europe I’d stated how backwards the U.S. is in many ways, especially in regards to women and how I’d love to move abroad again. And it’s true, I have a tendency to go back and forth about my relationship with my native country, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only woman to feel this way.
At least we can talk about the crappy things that go on here, I’d tell him. At least we can try to make it better. At least there’s a dialogue, even if trolls do tend to lurk in every dark corner.
As an expat, professional woman in Kazakhstan, the only dialogue I’ve seen women included in (and yes, I will generalize a bit here, because I want this post to be about perceptions, something all women deal with every day, no matter where they live), is how well they keep the home and how much prettier they make the workplace by being there. No matter how much your career means to you, I’ve had my supervisor tell me on numerous occasions, your greatest source of happiness will always come from your family, and you should hurry up and get one as soon as you can. Odd enough, from my high and mighty feminist point of view, that these women would say things like that to themselves, but as a woman who took the job solely with a mind to the career I was building, it really was like worlds colliding. Read More