The story of Aurelia Marchiori in Kyrgyzstan began ten years ago, when the French university students were sent to study communist and post-communist countries. Many future French scientists chose large states, almost a half of Aurelia’s coursemates left for Russia.
But she decided to study the Soviet history of Kyrgyzstan. The French woman told 24.kg news agency about her life in Kyrgyzstan and why she made such a decision.
— How long do you plan to stay in Kyrgyzstan?
— I plan to stay here for a long time. I like my life in Bishkek. I’m going to open a small café. It will be my mini-business in your country. In August, I will start teaching at an international school.
— What attracts you to Bishkek?
— I want to live in a quiet, calm city. Therefore, to be honest, I prefer the former Bishkek. Four years ago, there were fewer cars here, less fuss. And now the city is growing so fast — new buildings are appearing, old architectural buildings are being destroyed. It turns into a metropolis.
Nevertheless, there is a wonderful nature, wonderful landscapes and friendly people. All this attracts me to Kyrgyzstan.
I like to go out of the city. Half an hour drive — and you are already in the mountains: clean air, trees, high slopes, a river. Nothing is a substitute for such a rest.
My mother came to visit me. She has already came here four times and she also likes to have a rest in Kyrgyzstan.
We like to travel to the regions. I liked Arslanbob, Sary-Chelek, Son-Kul. I’m fond of skiing, so in winter I always go to the ski resort in Karakol.
— What in Bishkek reminds you of your hometown?
-The Marseilles and Bishkek residents do not hurry. If you suddenly meet someone on the street, you can sit and chat.
— What were your first impressions of Kyrgyzstan?
— I am a doctor of historical sciences. My Russian is good and I have always planned to go to the countries of the former USSR. When almost all students at the university chose Russia, I preferred the unexplored — Kyrgyzstan, because I quickly lose interest in objects of attention. In 2008, Bishkek seemed to me a very cozy, bright city. I worked at the French Institute and taught the language at the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University.
Then I got here again, it was already during my work for a travel company. Then we visited all the countries along the Great Silk Road.
Then I decided to come back again. I have been already staying for four years in Kyrgyzstan. In the coming years, I intend to live here permanently.
— What are the difficulties faced by foreigners in Kyrgyzstan?
— Many of them experience a cultural shock, because each environment has its own features. For example, even speaking the language, in the first years I was shocked by the phrase «ladno, davai» (okay, come on.) After a kind of pleasant conversation, my acquaintances said words that I perceived as offensive. And latter I realized that the people here say goodbye in such a way.
People also are very fond of asking about my personal life. The taxi drivers, strangers, and just fellow travelers are interested in my life. Previously, everyone was amazed at my bachelor way of life and gave advice. Therefore, now I immediately say that I am married to be left alone.
It is also very difficult for a foreigner to obtain a working visa. The salary in Kyrgyzstan is small, and the visa costs $ 1,500. And it has to be extended, so a considerable amount is to be spent every time.
— What has fascinated and disappointed you in close acquaintance with the local population?
— I do not like the attitude towards some foreigners, for example, to the Indians. My husband is an Indian. He often has to listen to insults from completely unfamiliar people for no reason. Of course, there is no discrimination against the Europeans, but I still think that it is not good in a civilized society to humiliate a person only because of skin color or ethnicity.
I will also note that many young people behave very rudely, jostle and do not apologize for it at all in public places. By the way, I have noticed that the adult generation is more educated and erudite than the youth. In the regions, old people tell me about the world politics events with dates and figures, the history of France. Where did they get such knowledge without the Internet, newspapers and television?
— What do you miss in our country?
— I miss the sea. I miss my friends and relatives. By the way, there are very few cultural events in Bishkek. When friends come to visit me, I do not know where to go with them. The only Historical Museum has been closed for two years.
Of course, I would like to have a good French cuisine and seafood dishes here. There is only one small French restaurant in Bishkek, but it is very expensive.
— Did you try the local dishes?
— Of course, I like lagman, plov, manty with pumpkin or dzhusai (chives). But it would be good to add spices to beshbarmak.