Well, well, lucky people setting off on travels. I’ve been getting a few emails and messages from around the block asking me about travels and language study in Kyrgyzstan, and guess what — it’s making me jealous!
It also appears that my post talking about the London School in Bishkek was helpful, but maybe not helpful enough, which is why I’ve decided to divulge even more information regarding studying Russian in Bishkek and travel there in general.
Here are some of the questions I’ve received, answered:
What shots did you have to get before you went?
This is a great question that I couldn’t answer off-hand. Not only am I not a health expert, when I got vaccinated back in ’06/’07, I was getting vaccinated for world travel in general. However, after checking the CDC website, the suggested vaccines include: routine updates (measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine, poliovirus vaccine), Hepatitis A + B, polio, Typhoid, Rabies. I had covered all of these except for rabies.
As a girl alone, did you ever feel unsafe in Bishkek?
No, not really. There are times when you shouldn’t be walking around alone, but generally I had no issues. Plus, the Kyrgyz people are really protective of young females, especially someone foreign. They were always very helpful to me — even taxi drivers would try to help me get the best deal from marshrutkas because I was solo.
Studying Russian at The London School in Bishkek
So did you compare several schools and courses once there?
No I didn’t. I actually found the school (and only this school) via Internet before going and set everything up in advance. Once there, I was so pleased with how everything was run that I didn’t feel the need to shop around.
How much was the stay with the family?
I’m not 100% on this, but at the time I believe it cost $10 per day. That price included 2 meals and a private room in a family’s home.
How long do you think the course should be to be able to have a basic conversation in Russian?
If going and not knowing anything, I would recommend at least 3 months to feel comfortable. You can have decent, basic knowledge after 2, but 3 will be the time when you can respond more eloquently (at least it was the time for me). I found that the first month was me just trying to learn the alphabet, how to pronounce and basic reading/writing skills. It obviously varies from person to person.
Do you think it is mandatory to book the course before leaving?
No, it is not mandatory, but it will help the school to prepare if you can give them a head’s up. When I was there, it was not uncommon for people to just rock up and try to fill a schedule.
**With the success of the London School these days, I would say it IS mandatory to book in advance. It can fill up in summer months.**
May I ask you also, how many hours of lesson did you have per day?
I think I started out at 5 hours a day, 4 days a week. I went down to 4 hours, 4 days a week, and further on to 3 by the end of it. My brain literally hurt after lessons.
Was it easy for you to meet locals?
It is actually quite easy to meet locals if taking language lessons. You will quickly meet your teachers who can give you an insight into the culture like no other, and there will be heaps of Kyrgyz students at the school trying to learn English. Your host family, if you choose that route, will also be able to introduce you to people they know. Some Kyrgyz people will be happy to try their English out on you as well.
Does the school organize weekend trips outside the city?
Yes, I went to Ala Archa with the school while I was there. They also have a list of activities they can help you set up and guide you on. Otherwise, the Community Based Tourism group is a great resource, so just stop by their office and see what is available.
- Is the London School in Bishkek a Real Place?
- Meet the Family
- Lake Issyk-Kul
- Learning Like a Child: Host Family Flashback Part 1
- Learning Like a Child: Host Family Flashback Part 2
If you have any other questions about heading to Kyrgyzstan for language study, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line. I love talking about my time there, and I’m really hoping to get back in the near future!