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Life in Almaty & On-Campus

Almaty - the cultural, financial and economic centre of Kazakhstan - is a friendly comfortable city with many places worth visiting and much to offer international students and professionals for an enjoyable living, studying, and working experience. There are many historical, cultural, and natural places to visit, and you can indulge in many entertainment, culinary and nightlife hotspots, as well as sport hobbies such as hiking, trekking, skiing, rafting, and cycling in Almaty's surrounding nature.

Narxoz University is at the heart of your experience in Kazakhstan and also offers many resources and activities to make the most of your time here. Specifically, the International Students and Faculty Department is here to support you at every stage, help you to explore the city and enjoy your stay in Almaty.

Use this guide to help you get acquainted with your new home, make the most of your experience here, become familiar with rules, resources, and customs, and know what is available for your success in Almaty and at Narxoz.
IMPORTANT: The information provided may not be up to date due to the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic and the 2020 campus renovation construction. Please double check information to assure accuracy.
International Networks & Resources
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There are several online networks for internationals in Kazakhstan to build community, find resources, ask questions, share, sell and buy. Additionally, there are some great visitor resources to help you get acquainted with your new home city. Here are some resources that Narxoz international students and professionals recommend:
The International Student and Faculty Department is also happy to help advise you on networks and resources as well.
Campus Facilities & Resources
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Narxoz University has two campuses located within a short drive of each other. The main Zhandossov Campus is under reconstruction. Already next year, students will study in a modern campus that meets all the requirements of comfort and safety.

Campuses

Sain-Ulugbek Campus: Microdistrict 1, 81, Almaty
(sometimes referred to as ""УЛК-2"/ "ULK-2" in Russian)

Zhandossov Campus: Zhandossov Street 55, Almaty
(sometimes referred to as "УЛК-1"/ "ULK-1" in Russian)


Transportation Between Campuses

Physical training class takes place near Znandossov Campus at the Sport Complex. Travel between the campuses usually takes 7-10 minutes by car/taxi (+/- 500 tenge) or 30-45 minutes by public transportation (bus route 31; +/- 80 tenge).


Hours of Operation

While working hours for individual employees and faculty varies, operation hours for most Narxoz offices are Monday through Friday from 9:00 - 18:00.
Airport & Travel
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Most international flights to Kazakhstan arrive at the Almaty International Airport or the Nursultan Nazarbayev International Airport (with connections to Almaty International Airport). Both airports are modern and provide all standard amenities of an international airport. Ground transportation to and from each airport is very easy and convenient with light traffic at all times, and both airports are located just on the outskirts of the Almaty and Nur Sultan.

Important: The WiFi service in both airports is free. However, it is usually only accessible by logging in with a local phone number. Therefore, it is important to confirm all airport pick-up arrangements before your flight since you may have no way of communicating on the phone when you arrive. The information desks in the main lobby of each airport always have staff available that can speak English, Kazakh, and Russian, and may be able to help you make a call if needed.
Getting Around Almaty
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There are several ways to conveniently move around Almaty, including walking, public transportation (bus and metro), taxi, and driving. The 2GIS app (pronounced too-gees) is the most widely used navigation app in Kazakhstan for both vehicles and public transportation. It is more up-to-date and accurate than Google Maps. The app is available in Russian and English; however, the English version still lists some information in Russian only
Housing/Accomodation
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Unless you are staying in a Narxoz dormitory upon arrival, it is important to plan to stay in short-term accommodation for your first three to seven days while you look for long-term housing. To avoid scams or any issues, it is important to finalize long-term accommodation in-person and not over the internet or phone.
Communication: Phone, Internet, Email, etc.
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Digital communications are fairly reliable and modern in most parts of Kazakhstan, especially in Almaty and Nur Sultan.
Language Learning & Translation
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The number of Almaty residents with intermediate-to-advanced English is large and growing. However, Kazakh and Russian are still the main languages of use and you will encounter many situations in which being able to communicate in Kazakh and/or Russian will be extremely beneficial, if not the only means of communication, both at Narxoz and in public. Russian is widely used by almost everyone at the workplace while Kazakh is used colloquially and somewhat in the workplace.


To more conveniently communicate with locals, show greater respect to locals, and learn some basic language skills and cultural aspects, use the following applications:

  • Google Translate is useful for reading labels and menus in Kazakh or Russian, or communicating with non-English speakers.

  • Duolingo or Tandem are helpful for learning Russian.

Kazakh and Russian language instruction is available at Narxoz for a fee via one-to-one tutoring and group courses that follow the academic calendar. For more information, contact the International Students and Faculty Department.

Note: Kazakhstan is currently at the beginning of a multi-year transition of the Kazakh alphabet script from the Cyrillic alphabet to the Roman alphabet. Therefore, you will notice Kazakh written in either alphabet for the next few years as the country transitions to using only the Roman alphabet for Kazakh.
Banking & Finance
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Kazakhstan has a fairly modern banking system that follows international standards and provides many online access options. International students, employees, and visitors will find that money matters are relatively easy and straightforward. However, there may be differences between your banking system and Kazakhstan's that you should research in advance.


Money in Kazakhstan

The local currency is the Kazakhstani Tenge (KZT).

  • Notes: 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 KZT
  • Coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 KZT


Paying for Goods and Services

Most stores, restaurants, hotels and other providers of goods and services accept most major foreign cards, including American Express and Visa cards, especially in Almaty and Nur-Sultan. However, cash is generally preferred in retail, smaller shops, restaurants, food vendors, and taxis (although card payments can be set up for the taxi applications referenced elsewhere in this guide.) Outside of Almaty and Nur-Sultan, credit card acceptance is limited and cash is the normal method of payment. Kaspi is also a widely accepted payment method among small and large businesses, as well as with individuals, but requires you to open a Kaspi bank account.
Food
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With so many ethnicities represented in Kazakhstan and because of its geographical location, a robust food culture and many food options are available in Almaty, reflecting cultures from Asia - especially Korea and Central Asia, Russia, eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the West. Meat, dairy, and wheat products are staples of the diverse Kazakhstani diet. Additionally, Almaty has some of the freshest natural produce in the entire country, shipped in from local, organic, and/or natural farms around the Almaty region or neighboring countries. Restaurants and stores are also starting to offer a growing array of options for people with specific dietary requirements and global food options, although they can be difficult to find other than by word of mouth. You will also have the opportunity to experience ancient and regional dishes, as well as common dishes which you may have never tried such as horse meat, fermented horse milk, camel milk, fermented wheat drink, and buckwheat. Below are some recommendations for finding convenient food that fits your personal needs.


Discounts

To earn prizes and bonus points when paying for food, you can download the Raxmet app, and link it to your local bank card.
Shopping
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Discounts and Prizes

To earn prizes and bonus points when paying with your local banking card, use Raxmet.


Neighborhood Shops

Every neighborhood in Almaty has a variety of small businesses including convenience stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, home essentials and hardware, tailors, florists, pet stores, salons, barbers, banks, cafes, and restaurants. These shops are very convenient and have good prices.


Malls
Almaty has many malls that provide almost any product you would find at top malls around the world. These malls are stocked with imported goods and international brands, especially in the city center. Due to import laws, many imported goods are fairly expensive. At these malls, there isn't much in the way of handmade crafts and local goods, though you can pick up unique fashions by Kazakh designers and sports gear for the local pastimes of camping, skiing or hiking in Almaty's mountains.




Bazaars

For local goods, less expensive products, and items you cannot find in commercial shopping centers, people frequent the bazaars.

  • The Green ("Zelyoniy") Bazaar (Zhibek Zholy Street in central Almaty) is the most historic and traditional market that has a wide variety of quality products and local foods that you will not easily find in grocery stores.
  • Baraholka is the biggest bazaar in Kazakhstan with routes back to the ancient Silk Road trading history. Here you can find almost anything among the hundreds of vendors that provide both local and imported products among the many connected buildings that make up the bazaar. It is very important to go to Barahoka with a local so you can know where to look and how to navigate the seemingly endless isles and buildings.


Pharmacies

See a comprehensive list of pharmacies in the Healthcare section below.
Healthcare
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International students and employees are entitled to use the public and private healthcare systems throughout Kazakhstan. Narxoz students receive free healthcare at all Mediker facilities and Narxoz employees receive discounted services (details below under Mediker Medical Centers).


Although the government continues to make improvements to the level of service, the quality of healthcare in Kazakhstan is highly variable, especially in the public sector. For this reason, internationals are advised to invest in comprehensive private health insurance in order to make use of Kazakhstan's private hospitals and doctors.


Before Travelling to Kazakhstan & Orientation

Before travelling to Kazakhstan, internationals should make copies of all important medical documents and take note of their medical insurance coverage and important medical emergency contacts while in Kazakhstan. Any important emergency contacts and medical information should be provided to your contacts both back at home and in Almaty. Make sure to also provide Narxoz HR and the International Students and Faculty Department with your emergency contact information.


During orientation, the International Students and Faculty Department will provide advice on how to get to the nearest medical clinic in case of an urgent health matter, as well as more detailed information about the medical centers and clinics in Almaty.
Spirituality & Places of Worship
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Kazakhstan is a largely secular country, home to over 130 ethnicities and a long history of peace between religions. There is freedom of worship but proselytising is not tolerated or allowed. If you are from a country with interfaith gatherings and initiatives, you will find that these are limited to non-existent in Kazakhstan.


The majority of the population (about 70 percent) is Muslim; however, the Muslim population varies in their religious practices with many defining themselves as culturally Muslim and/or minimally practicing. The second largest religious grouping is Christian (about 20 percent) with most following Russian Orthodox traditions.


There are various communities and places of worship throughout Almaty and the country:
Churches in Almaty | Mosques in Almaty | Synagogues in Almaty | Temple (Hindu) in Almaty


Regardless of your faith and spirituality, it is worth visiting Almaty's places of worship, as they are beautifully designed and provide a glimpse into the recent history and contemporary cultures of the city and country. In particular, the Central Mosque of Almaty (Pushkina 16, Almaty 050016) is one of the largest places of worship in the country, and is renowned for its stunning gold-domes and white marble. Zenkov's Cathedral, St. Nicholas' Cathedral, Sofia Church, and the Russian Orthodox Church offer remarkably beautiful and historical architecture and artwork. Remember that women must cover their heads, arms and legs when visiting mosques, as well as many orthodox churches and synagogues; and men must dress modestly, covering from their elbows above and the knees and above.
Childcare & Education
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At Narxoz, we understand that taking care of your children's wellbeing will be a top priority for you as you settle into Almaty. As such, the International Students and Faculty Department will help you explore childcare and schooling options for your children. Below is some basic information that may be a good starting point for you.


Most expat families choose international schools in Kazakhstan due to the language barrier they face in public schools. There are several international schools in Kazakhstan providing an excellent level of education, which are often set in modern, purpose-built facilities and staffed by well-qualified, highly trained teachers. Most teach in English, though some have additional foreign-language streams such as French. Globally recognised and respected education systems are offered, including the Cambridge IGCSEs and A-levels, American SATs and Advanced Placement subjects, and the International Baccalaureate.
Safety & Security
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Almaty is a comparatively very safe international destination. However, just like all large cities, it is important to familiarize yourself with the safety culture and resources available to you that may be different from your home country.
More Safety Information

For more information on safety in Kazakhstan, view the US Overseas Security Advisory Council profile of Kazakhstan.
Laws in Kazakhstan
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Laws in Kazakhstan may be different from those in your country. This especially applies to the use of alcohol and tobacco:

  • While uncommon, it is possible to be stopped by police anytime in public. It is important to have copies of your passport and visa to provide the police.

  • It is prohibited to drink alcohol in public places except bars, restaurants, or public catering organizations where it is allowed to sell alcohol. It is prohibited to appear drunk in public.

  • Sale of alcoholic spirits in Kazakhstan by volume at 30% and stronger is prohibited between 21:00 and 12:00 the next day. A similar ban on the sale of low-alcohol beverages (e.g., beer and wine) is from 23:00 to 8:00. However, you may still drink alcohol in restaurants, cafes and bars.

  • It is not allowed to make noise and disturb your neighbors after 23:00 until 6:00 in the morning. You may be fined for disturbing your neighbors during this period.

  • It is prohibited to smoke in public places, except for specifically provided and furnished rooms. You may see locals breaking this law; however, it is still strongly advised that you do not do the same since you are a foreigner.

  • Gambling is generally illegal except for designated gambling and gaming businesses.

  • It is prohibited for individuals under 21 years of age to purchase alcohol.


Look up more information about laws in Kazakhstan and access the Ministry of Justice's legal information center.
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+7 727 377 1271
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