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Our First Six Months in Tashkent

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Moving to a new country is never easy.

Saying goodbye to your friends, relatives and favorite places is heartbreaking. Packing all your belongings is a nightmare. And starting your life from scratch in a new country is a huge challenge.

However, there are also many advantages. Upon arriving at your destination, you get an opportunity to meet lots of new people and make some new friends. Equally, you have a chance to learn about a different culture.

How many times did you move in your life?

For me, it’s been two moves so far.

My first one was back in 2005. At that time, I moved from Kyiv, Ukraine, to Washington DC. The capital of the US became my new home for many years. It was an interesting time. I just completed my PhD in finance at the university in Ukraine and enrolled in the MBA program at the Kogod School of Business at American University.

Spring in Washington DC

My two years at Kogod were wonderful. The school helped me to adapt to the new reality, find new friends, perfect my English, and even get my first job. I still keep up with some friends from Kogod. I had also taught an accounting course at Kogod as an adjunct professor and I am now on the advisory board of the accounting department.

Kogod School of Business

If it weren’t for Kogod, I don’t know where I’d be now. From my experience, going to a school in a new country is a great way to adjust to the new life quickly.

Almost two decades later, in the summer of 2023, I needed to move again, this time together with my family.

We were going to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, for 4 years.

Why we moved to Tashkent

View of Tashkent

My international development job took me to Tashkent.

It wasn’t an easy decision to move, as we were quite happy in Washington DC. We had all the things we needed. Everything was familiar. We had people we could rely on.

But after carefully considering pros and cons, we still decided that it was a good opportunity for our whole family.

I would work on financial sector projects in Uzbekistan and further develop my technical expertise. My daughter Elizabeth would go to an international school and meet a lot of kids from all over the world. My husband Bill would learn about Central Asia, the part of the world he’d never been to. And my parents would hopefully have an easier time traveling to see us. Tashkent is much closer to Kyiv than Washington DC, but with the war in Ukraine ongoing, it’s very hard for people travel to other countries.

One day, the moving truck came and took all of our belongings (the moving company would take care of shipping for us). A few days later, we packed a couple of suitcases and were ready for our trip.

Our moving truck in Washington DC

Arriving in Tashkent

We arrived in Tashkent via Turkish Airlines on August 8 in the middle of the night.

It took us a couple of hours to get through the airport. My husband and daughter were getting a visa upon arrival and the only window which attended to these types of passengers was closed. We waited patiently till the officer finally appeared and issued the visa they needed. Then we had to stand in a general line to get the passport stamped, and finally we were free to go.

Hello, Tashkent!

For the first few days, we were like deer caught in headlights.

Summer in Tashkent

Everything was new and different. We were jet legged. It was extremely hot (40C). We did not have too many things with us, only what we brought in the suitcases (the rest would arrive in several months via shipment). We could not just jump on Amazon and order the things we needed. Amazon does not deliver to Uzbekistan and we had no clue what other platforms existed in this part of the world.

Generally speaking, it was very hard for us to figure out what to do and how to do it. We were able to find our way around only thanks to Google maps and the car sharing app.

The good thing was that I spoke Russian, which helped quite a bit. English is not widely spoken in Uzbekistan at all. Uzbek is the main language and it does not sound like any language I know. In Tashkent, many people speak Russian and Uzbek, while in the regions, most of the people just speak Uzbek.

Getting Settled in Tashkent

Our first weeks were packed with all kinds of chores. We needed to find a place to live, a nanny to look after Elizabeth, local stores to buy groceries and necessities at, some good restaurants, and do all kinds of paperwork (apply for “accreditation”, a tax number etc.)

Well, essentially we needed to start our life from scratch in a new place! If you want to learn more about the stuff we went through, check out my blog post: Getting Settled in Tashkent: Tips for Expats.

Slowly but surely things began falling into places.

First, I got my new office at the International Business Center. It’s a nice complex where a lot of international companies are housed.

Then, Elizabeth started the Tashkent International School (TIS). The instruction is in English and the approach is very similar to the one in the US. Going to school was a perfect way to help her adjust quickly.

TIS is a wonderful school. It has a beautiful campus, caring teachers and top-notch facilities. TIS staff made Elizabeth feel at home from day one. Every time she walks on campus in the morning, multiple people greet her: “Hi Elizabeth!” The school offers a wide variety of after-school activities, like athletics, choir, arts etc. You can read more about our experience at TIS here.

Elizabeth’s First Day at TIS. Let’s go Owls!

Finally, we enrolled Elizabeth in the same extracurricular activities she was taking back in the US: tennis, golf, dance, and music. Soon enough, she had the same routine: going to school and doing various activities or playing with her friends after school.

Dance mix class in Tashkent

What did we learn about Uzbekistan so far?

By now, six months in Tashkent went by. Time flies! It seems that we just arrived.

In this short time, we’ve already learned a lot about Tashkent and Uzbekistan in general.

Turns out, this is a country with a very young population. There are many young people in the streets and especially many babies. You can see baby carriages all over the place. Many people get married quite young, in the early 20’s, and have kids right away. As it turns out, some women get pressured to get married (example: our first nanny who did not want to get married at all, but eventually had to succumb to social pressure). Given that there are many young children in Tashkent, we have found numerous options to entertain Elizabeth and her friends, like various amusement parks and kids’ cafes.

Luna Park at the Riviera Mall in Tashkent

We also noticed that there are many cars in Tashkent. Most people here consider it very important for their status to own a car. Importantly, it has to be a white car, as people believe that white surface does not attract as much heat as other colors (especially black!)

White cars of Tashkent

It also turns out, Uzbekistan is the only country in Central Asia which produces a full range of passenger and commercial vehicles. The cars are manufactured by UzAuto Motors, a joint venture with GM. It’s certainly very good for the development of the economy, but also contributes to terrible traffic jams and poor air quality. Traffic jams are horrendous, especially during rush hour. However, during holidays and weekends traffic is generally quite light.

In terms of the cost of living, Uzbekistan is not an expensive country to live in. Inflation has been rather high in the recent years, but still, prices are quite low by the US standards.

For example, you can get the best seats in the opera house for $15-20. Lunch at a pizzeria will cost you $15 and at a nice cafe – $30 or so. Taxi rides will generally cost you $2-3. Locally made products are cheap (but imports from countries like the US are expensive). There are some good local supermarket chains (Korzinka, Macro) and nice malls (Riviera). We also often go to the Mirabad market to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. From time to time, we order from Amazon or Walmart through a service called Globbing. It takes 2-3 weeks to get the items and you have to pay for shipping overseas, but still it’s worth it.

Fruit at the Mirabad Market. Watermelons and melons here in Tashkent are absolutely delicious. Sweet like honey.

We found a nice area to live in. Our apartment is in the Mirabad district, a very central area. We know our neighborhood quite well and have a good grasp of different parts of the city. We found several nice cafes near our house where we go regularly: Dodo Pizza, Bon! and Swiss Bakery, among others.

Cozy afternoon at the Swiss Bakery in Tashkent: love their yummy chocolate waffles!

We also became familiar with the Uzbek cuisine, which is delicious. We eat a lot of plov, the rice pilaf, one of our favorite foods here in Uzbekistan. If you have not tried the plov, you have to do it soon! It tastes absolutely incredible together with the local bread and the achichuk salad.

Delicious lunch at Milliy Taomlar restaurant in Tashkent

It’s worth noting that Tashkent is a very cultural city. By now, we’ve been to several museums, amusement parks, the opera and ballet theater, the circus, and we regularly visit the Tashkent Zoo. We play a lot of tennis and golf, attend the skating rink, and in the summer/early fall we frequented the outdoor pool, which is very nice. Thanks to the lower prices, we can do much more stuff here than we used to do in Washington.

Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theater

A few facts about Amir Temur

Uzbekistan’s greatest hero is Amir Temur (Tamerlan). I vaguely remember reading about this Turko-Mongol warrior back in highschool, but now I learned quite a lot of facts. Tashkent has a wonderful museum where the guides will teach you all the historical facts you need to know.

Amir Temur Museum in Tashkent

This undefeated commander was born in 1336 in the modern day city of Shahrisabz, 50 miles south of Samarkand. The name Temur means “iron”. He is known for the establishment of the Timurid empire in the territories of the modern-day Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia.

In 1398, Amir Temur also invaded the Indian subcontinent during the reign of Sultan Nasir-ud-Din Mahmud Shah Tughluq. The capturing of the Delhi Sultanate was one of Temur’s largest victories. At that time, Delhi was one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Its Sultan had a strong army and even boasted many war elephants carrying poison on their tusks. Unfortunately, nothing helped Delhi against Temur’s army. The city was left laying in ruins and its population became slaves, while Temur took home a lot of treasures from the Delhi court.

Amir Temur was highly intelligent and spoke multiple languages. He devoted a lot of attention to developing strong military commanders, carefully selecting the right people for this role. He also ensured strict discipline in his army, where every soldier perfectly knew their place and duties. For the decisive blow, Temur always established strong reserves, ready to strike at the right moment. Temur’s army included not only men, but also women, who fought alongside men and achieved some remarkable results at the battlefield.

In 1404, Temur began a campaign against Ming China, but died before reaching the Chinese border in 1405.

There are mixed reviews on Temur’s reign. People greatly praise him in Central Asia as this region developed and blossomed during his rule. However, this warrior is known for a lot of brutality. His army destroyed a lot of cities and it took them many years to recover from the devastation.

Amir Temur Portrait

In Conclusion

All in all, in the short 6 months, we’ve seen and done a lot here in Tashkent.

The best part was my parents’ visit this winter. They visited us for Christmas and we did a lot of sightseeing here in Tashkent.

Christmas in Tashkent

We also got a new family member- a guinea pig. We named him Poppy. Back in the US, we were not able to have a pet, but it became a reality for us in Tashkent.

Going forward, we are planning to stay open-minded and experience as much as possible in the four years we will be spending in Uzbekistan. Stay tuned for more posts on my blog!

Elizabeth with her guinea pig Poppy
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16 thoughts on “Our First Six Months in Tashkent”

  1. I learned a lot from reading this post, thanks, Valeriya. Similarly, I did from reading features on your published book ‘Secrets We Keep’. Congratulations on your new position and on your book. I don’t know where you fit your writing in though!

    1. Thanks so much Meryl! You are spot on. Finding the time is the hardest thing for me. There is so much material, but very little time to write. I try to be as efficient as possible, so I can still fit in some writing.

  2. Sounds like quite an adventure! And what a great opportunity to learn about another country, especially for your daughter. Best wishes for your writing, too.

    1. I definitely think it’s a great experience for my daughter. Meeting kids from all over the world is priceless. And learning about a different culture is also useful. They have a class at school called “host country” where they learn Uzbek traditions. Plus they study Uzbek and Russian languages.

  3. It is always a hard decision to move abroad – I’ve done it a few times now – but it seems that you have settled into life in Tashkent. I hope you enjoy the next 6 months.

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