Scruffy Nellie, living in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana – found on the street by my British diplomatic family.
1. Why did you move abroad?
My owners move every 2-3 years, from one posting to another, so Astana is one in a long line of homes for them.
2. How do you make a living?
My handmaiden is a copy-editor, so she only needs an Internet connection to do her job. My manservant toils at the British Embassy, here in Astana.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
We use Skype about once a week to send smiley woofs home, as well as Facebook daily and, of course, email.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat Kazakhstan?
The sunshine: more blue skies here than in the UK.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Kazakhstan?
Winter: down to minus 40 or even colder for weeks at a time. Astana is the second coldest capital on the planet, with winter starting in earnest in November and the snow thawing in April. The Steppe is very flat and open, so it’s also windy here, which adds to the fun when there’s a blizzard.
6. What do you miss most?
Of course, family.... but also the UK countryside. My owners holiday in Scotland about twice a year, regardless of being in Central Asia at the moment.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
We have lots of lovely international visitors to our home – from the diplomatic community (who love to give me tummy tickles). My handmaiden has also made friends with people through the Astana International Club.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
The love of horn honking in heavy traffic... and, on the street, men’s very obvious appreciation of the female form.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
That all Kazakhs are afraid of dogs. It’s true that most of them back away from me as if I’m a hound from Hell, but a small number think I’m adorable.
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
Imported food items are priced higher, as you’d expect. Eating out is comparable – occasionally cheaper. I wouldn’t say that prices affect our lifestyle; rather, our behaviour changes in the very coldest months, as it’s difficult to be outside in those temperatures.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
View life as an adventure and keep all that happens in perspective. Doing without hot water / the Internet every now and then isn’t the end of the world. If you’re in a position to travel and experience other cultures and environments you are among a lucky few. We live charmed lives.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I wanted friends and family to catch a glimpse of Astana life. My daily photo-blog is a lovely way to share our experiences. We now have well over 2000 followers; it’s great to know that so many people enjoy reading my dog wisdom.
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