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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Our Digs: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

I had originally planned to systematically take pictures of our apartment here, and show the internet at large every room.  However, as so often happens, life intervened.  We moved in here in the wee hours of the morning when we arrived, and dropped all of our bags on the floor.  We haven't really been able to put all of our stuff away for a number of reasons, and I'm too lazy to try to move the clutter around from room to room to take pictures.  So, there will be a few pictures at the end of this post, but I may have to save comprehensive picture taking for another time, if ever.

Our apartment here is a one-bedroom apartment.  Probably the best thing I can say about it is is that it's nearly free (we pay a hefty security deposit and utilities, but no monthly rent).  I recognize that free rent is a pretty decent virtue for the place to have, but at the same time, it's far from being ideal.  Over the course of our marriage, we've lived in some places that were better, and some places that were worse.  Anyway, I'll take our current home piece by piece, and talk about the various pluses and minuses it has:

The Building
  • On campus, so ridiculously short commute.
  • Houses many of our colleagues, so it's easy to meet up with people.
  • Has a nice looking gym, and will have a mini market, salon, and pharmacy at some yet to be determined time in the future.
  • Has receptionists who speak English and are able to help out with certain basic errands and transactions.
  • The close proximity to our offices means you never feel like you're away from work.
  • Campus is pretty isolated from the downtown area.
  • I hope this doesn't happen, but there is serious potential for people to get tired of seeing each other all the time.
Our Apartment
  • Came equipped with some furniture, appliances, and housewares, so we don't have to buy everything.
  • Has hardwood floors and small area rugs (rather than wall-to-wall carpeting, which I think is an allergen trap).
  • Floor plan is relatively spacious.
  • Has a hotel-like feel to it, right down to the brown and beige decor (with wildly colorful prints on the wall to provide contrast….I guess)
  • Probably better suited for one person than for two.  Closet space and general storage space isn't really enough to meet our needs. Also, it came with only one desk, even though we're both employed, and will both need to get work done.
  • Electricity is sketchy.  In our first couple of days, one bulb in a ceiling light fixture shorted out all of the ceiling lights.  One of those times, the glass part of the bulb actually popped off.
  • Has only one bedroom.
  • Has lots of storage space.
  • Easy-to-clean tiled floor.
  • Much of the storage space is so high up that even I (at 5'11") have trouble reaching it.
Living Room
  • Has large window.
  • Fairly spacious.
  • Reasonably comfortable chair and loveseat.
  • No bookshelves (who would have ever predicted that professors and instructors might want those?)
  • Loveseat is not large enough to sprawl out on.
  • View from above mentioned large window is mostly of construction projects.
  • Appliances seem to be extremely modern, much more so than any I had in the US.  
  • Stove is of the flat-top variety, so I don't have to clean under burners (ugh).
  • Lots of cabinets.
  • Freezer is below the fridge, and is organized by drawers, so there is little chance of cold food falling on my feet when I open the door.
  • We have access to an electric dryer, as we have a combination washer/dryer machine.
  • Stove is operated by touch screen, so it is easy to turn burners on and off inadvertently.
  • Washer/dryer machine has a bewildering array of options, all of which are in Russian.  (A Russian-speaking wife of a colleague kindly came to our apartment to explain them all to me).
  • While we technically do have a dryer, I'm not convinced that it saves much time over hanging our clothes on the drying rack.
  • Sink is extremely small.
  • Fairly spacious.
  • Has two nightstands with drawers (I've actually never had a nightstand with drawers, and I really like the one here!).
  • Has a padded headboard (I've never had a headboard, either).
  • Has a separate storage area, where our suitcases and various housekeeping supplies live.
  • Mattress feels like a rack of torture.
  • Closet space is not enough for two people's clothes.
  • Like in the entry way, some of the storage space is so high up that it is almost unusable.
  • We have hot water (and therefore hot showers) again after nearly two weeks of doing without.
  • Roomy medicine cabinet.
  • Bathtub has really high sides.  If I fall down and hurt my knee (which is unfortunately pretty likely at some point), I'm not sure how I'll get in and out.
  • Toilet bowl is evil.  I'll just leave it at that.
I've written enough that maybe it would have been worth it to move the clutter from room to room to take pictures.  Oh well!  Here are a few pictures:

Kitchen shot!  The magnets on the fridge came in the most recent box we received from our shipment.

The washer/dryer with the array of options in Russian.  The center knob is apparently reflective enough to take selfies.

Two of the wildly colorful prints.  Just to clarify, we did not choose these.

This wildly colorful print is of downtown Astana.  If you look closely at the left side of the print, you can see a crane, so it's pretty realistic.

This water pump is the latest addition to our household goods here.  The idea is that we can order large, heavy bottles of water, and then fit this pump over the top so we don't have to try to pour when it's really heavy.


  1. Aaaaah, once again, so much to say! I'll try not to go crazy. What is so hard about providing bookshelves to us academics??? We had the same problem with our furnished place here. Also - high-up storage space. We have closets that I have to get a stepladder to reach the bottom of. I guess these are things America just hasn't gotten into.

    I love hearing about your place! It looks nice!

    1. That's really funny that you had the same lack of shelving in your place, too! I wonder what people are thinking when they decide what to include in furnished homes? I remember seeing a lot of high-up storage in the Middle East, too. I've decided that only large things can go in those really high places--I know little things would work their way to the back and we'd never get them out again!