Experience Reports

Experience Reports

Dushanbe, Tajikistan


I flew to the capital Dushanbe. Volunteers from IAESTE Dushanbe helped me to get a taxi from there to Khujand, the second biggest city of Tajikistan in the north of the country, where I was gonna do my internship. That meant 5 hours of driving through the mountains on really crazy streets. There was a great view but sometimes it was quite scary. When I finally arrived in Khujand, Mirzoamir from IAESTE Khujand picked me up and we went to a vegetarian canteen (most likely the only vegetarian place in Khujand). Then he brought me to the apartment, which was his family’s old flat, where I was staying on my own during the next 4 weeks. In the evening there was already a meeting of the IAESTE volunteers in Khujand, where I met the other trainees.

Free time

In the weekends I always did things together with the other trainees and the people from IAESTE Khujand. Already the first weekend I spent in Tajikistan we went on a trip all together to a lake in the mountains where also the trainees from Dushanbe joined. First, on Friday we went to the lake close by to the city and then we ate Plov – a dish out of rice, carrots and meat and not to forget a lot of oil, very common in central Asia. The next day we all went 6 hours in a small bus on the same road where I was coming from Dushanbe. We made some stops to see a small museum in a town on the way and to eat lunch at a place already in the beginning of the mountains. The temperature drop was quite interesting – in Khujand there were 35 degrees, and in the mountain only around 25. Then we finally got the camp site next to the lake. This place was really amazing. After we arrived it started to rain heavily which was quite a variation from the hot and dry weather in Khujand. After the rain stopped we made a bonfire and then we looked at the stars. There you had an amazing view on the night sky because there was no light pollution. The next day we went on walks around the area and went to a big water fall. Before going back we had to take a swim in the lake of course, but we only stayed inside the water for a few seconds because it only had like 15 degrees – except for a Norwegian girl. The other weekends we spent in and around Khujand. We met a lot for walks in different parks and for dinner, and not to forget for bowling. The IAESTE volunteers from Khujand also showed us different places, for example a traditional teahouse in an area where a lot of weddings where happening. At that time there were at least 10 wedding couples around. In general weddings are THE events during summer. I myself attended even two weddings. I was invited to the first one by Mirzoamir whom I met before in Vienna. I stayed at the table with his aunts and cousins. This was a really interesting experience. Mirzoamirs family is really rich so the wedding was super-big. There was fireworks, a music band with dancers and so on. One of the weirdest things was the fact that the wedding couple had to sit at their own table not in so close proximity to the other guests the whole time except for one dance.

The work

I was working in a milk processing company. They collect milk from very small farms around the area and produce dairy products like yoghurt, cream, pasteurized milk and cream cheese. During the first days I was shown around by the woman who works in the „laboratory“. She is always checking if the milk that was delivered was still good and she showed me how to measure the fat content of a product. But in general there was not much to do in the lab because first of all they didn’t make many measurements in the first place and there were two employees who worked in the lab. So most of the time I only could help in the production – so manual work like sticking barcodes on cups for hours or putting cream cheese into plastic boxes which was quite tiring. After asking the factory manager (the only one who spoke some English) to give me something more to do she just said tomorrow but then nothing happend. After going to her again we managed to ask some IAESTE volunteers to come to the company and translate for me. So they at least explained me the production processes. That was really nice of the IAESTE people. But then there was nothing to do again. So I have to say I wasn’t really satisfied with my internship because I didn’t really learn anything new. If I would have known some Russian maybe the working experience would have been better. Well, at least the rest of my internship was a great experience. Tajikistan is a very interesting country. It’s ex-soviet and muslim which is an interesting mixture. All the people are really nice and welcoming.

I can recommend everybody to go to
Tajikistan and see for yourself!