And here is Madina Bizhanova’s report:
Today we are halfway through our two months stay at UW-Madison. Adina and I have already completed our history class titled The Greeks and categorized as Classics 320. I did enjoy the class, especially reading and analyzing the ancient texts and debating them with our foreign peers. Although the class lasted one month only, I managed to get to know better two of my classmates – one from China and another from South America – both of whom were permanent international students at UW-Madison and both worked part-time within their specialty: the former at an IT-department and the latter at Geology museum.
Indeed, it is the international feature of UW-Madison that I liked most. In our dormitory, on our floor alone I became acquainted with students from China, Singapore, and Korea as well as from other parts of USA. Since we are peers, we appeared quite similar in views towards popular culture, although when it came to politics, it was almost fun to find out how differently we perceive each other’s countries.
On the whole, the very first weeks of our stay here I was quite impressed by the polished-out system, be it education, social activities, cultural entertainment or housing. Everywhere there are signs encouraging you to contribute to waste management, recycling, energy conservation, and healthy lifestyle. Majority of permanent students work part-time and do not refrain from cleaning kitchens and bathrooms. Moreover, it was mostly male students that I have so far seen cleaning kitchens and bathrooms, with females constituting half of the bus riders I have met so far. Elder people as well seem to take active part in everyday social events that take place at the student center. In their part, the elderly do not consider riding bicycles and doing sports something that they have ‘outlived’.
Thus, I understood the whole value of sending us here: it was not only about the two classes we could take but about the larger system of values and infrastructure that we could experience on ourselves and evaluate the extent to which it is worth and suitable for replicating in Kazakhstan.
Viewing our stay at UW-Madison from such an angle, I could not help noticing some of the disadvantages of the American system either. For example, on my second week of stay I caught cold and my temperature rose up to 40°C. I was too weak to walk to the free student medical centre, could not call 911 because it was too expensive and one-time-use medical insurance would have provided the doctor only by the next day. It was only thanks to my friends’ care that I recovered. Thus, I came to appreciate our free medical emergency service back at Kazakhstan. NU Digital Library’s keyword search system also appeared much easier to use than UW’s Digital Library.
Still, summer at UW-Madison has many more advantages than drawbacks, with its beautiful lakeshore, numerous kayaks and boats, concerts in the evening at the terrace, free gym and pool, free museums, several libraries and farmers’ market every Saturday. In short, UW-Madison is a wonderful place to spend your summertime with a couple of good friends.
Thank you Madina – and enjoy the rest of your stay!