My first trip

It’s summer in the Northern hemisphere, so probably many of you are thinking about holidays, or at least escaping outside now and again. So for this month’s collaborative post we’ve been thinking about travel. If you’re in the Southern hemisphere, well, maybe you will read this and dream of the summer that’s coming up.

Colombia, the USA, India, Bulgaria… PocketCultures contributors from around the world write about their first trip abroad (or – since we haven’t all had the chance to travel abroad – their first big trip). Read on to find out where they went and what they did!

Nuria (Costa Rica)

I took my first trip abroad when I turned 15 years old. My parents and sisters celebrated this special birthday, Quince Años in Spanish, with me in San Andres Island, Colombia. It was the first time I was ever on a plane, so the trip was really exciting although it was only about an hour! I remember the day before leaving, I did not feel so good and I had a rash, so I went to the drugstore but they told me it was only an allergy. So, I did not pay that much attention to it. But the next day when we were at the airport, I had a fever and did not feel that good the following days. Since I thought what I had was a simple allergy, once I noticed some itchy, red dots on my legs, I just scratched them all.

Getting my hair braided


August 15, 2012 2 comments

PocketCultures world tour: best of 2011

Happy New Year! Our roundup of 2011 begins with a reminder that 1st January is not the beginning of a new year throughout the world. Carla wrote that Brazilians consider the year to start after February’s carnival, and Anu wrote about new year celebrations which take place at different times in different parts of India. Of course many parts of the world do celebrate the start of the New Year on January 1st, and Sandra’s post explained all about new year celebrations in Portugal.

Bolo Rei
Bolo Rei – part of the New Year celebrations in Portugal. Credit.


December 31, 2011 1 comment

Kyrgyzstan: A blend of Russia and native Kyrgyz culture, now evolving into its own unique identity

Today, we introduce you to Nargiza Ryskulova. Nargiza is one of our regional Pocket Cultures contributors, who is from Kyrgyzstan but currently lives in London. Kyrgyzstan is a country that many of us don’t know a lot about:even down to the country’s location on a map, or what language the locals speak! Read more from Nargiza about what makes Kyrgyzstan so unique, multi-cultural, and what most surprises visitors.

Where do you live? Where are you from? If those are different, can you tell us a little about what inspired your move?

I have been living in London since August. Originally from Kyrgyzstan. Technical reason to move to London is to do my MA in International Journalism at it is one of the best journalism schools in the world. But really it’s for London, because London is just one of the cities that are on my “must live” list. It’s an amazing city to be young in, inspiring, overwhelming and challenging. So in combination circumstances match the desire and make London a perfect place for me to be at this moment.

Would you describe yourself as multi-cultural?

I have grown up in a culture which is itself a mixture of cultures. Kyrgyzstan was in Soviet Union for 70 years, inheriting strong post-soviet culture, blended on the basis of native Kyrgyz culture and Russian culture, strongly implemented through media and literature. Now as a developing country Kyrgyzstan is evolving its own new culture.

Why did you decide to become a Pocket Cultures contributor?

Because I love cultures, and I love the fact that I can share mine, or the one I am exposed with so many other people who are also able to appreciate specialties and fascination of different cultures.

Can you describe a typical day for you?

My morning starts with cup of coffee and morning dose of fresh world news. 40 minutes of good reading on the tube and walk to University. After school comes the most exciting, exploration of new: places, people, activities. Thanks to the fact that London has so much to offer it’s never the same!

What is the best part of living in your country? The worst?

The best part of living in my country (Kyrgyzstan) is to be able see mountains from any point. It just gives you a different perspective on things around you, reminding you that you are just a human. People are incredible, their hospitality and sincerity makes up for imperfectness of infrastructure. The worst part is the political system, which is striving to develop into something functional. But I guess, that’s why we called a “developing” country.

What books or films would you recommend someone who’d like to know more about your country?



  • Life At the Edge of the Empire: Oral Histories of Soviet Kyrgyzstan by Sam Tranum
  • Any literary piece by Chingiz Aitmatov (will provide the deepest insight into culture)
  • Kyrgyzstan: Central Asia’s Island of Democracy? (Postcommunist States and Nations, 4)by John Anderson


  • Wedding Chest  by Nurbek Egen
  • Sanzhyra by Nurbek Egen
  • Birth of Manas as a Premonition by Nurbek Egen
  • Beshkempir (1998)
  • Jamila (1994)
  • Bishkek, I love you

What’s something that visitors are often surprised by when getting to know your country/culture?

That we look Asian, located next to China, but speak Russian language.

That the horse milk is a national drink “komuz”!

November 10, 2011 2 comments

5 interesting facts about Kyrgyzstan

Here are a few facts about the Central Asian Republic of Kyrgyzstan.

1) There are over 88 major mountain ranges in Kyrgyzstan, making up about more than 70 percent of the country’s territory.

Kyrgyzstan mountains


November 4, 2011 Comments disabled

Defining Kyrgyz Identity

The fact that I find it difficult to define myself as a Kyrgyz person occurred to me  only when I moved to London. Not only most people around me find it difficult to pronounce Kyrgyzstan, most of them have no idea what Kyrgyzstan is. The fact that I am Asian, Muslim and speak Russian doesn’t make it any easier.  So the question occurred, how do I accurately describe myself as a Kyrgyz person?

By now I have realized that it’s impossible to do it without a lengthy introduction into Kyrgyz History, because after all identity is shaped by culture, and culture is shaped by history, well, and many other components. (more…)

October 28, 2011 1 comment

Traditional and modern: two Kyrgyz weddings

In Kyrgyz culture marriage is one of the most important decisions and acts of person’s life. Family definitely stands among highest priorities of Kyrgyz people and marriages are meant to last for a lifetime. Therefore the wedding is very important not only for the bride and groom, but for their extended family and friends.

Kyrgyz weddings incorporate rituals, some of which often controversial. For example it is quite common to marry in a white “western style” gown, but along the “western” style wedding it’s mandatory to conduct the ritual of nikkah, the muslim traditional ritual of marriage. In other words, just like Kyrgyz culture, Kyrgyz weddings represent mix of traditions and cultures, which are cherished and influential in Kyrgyzstan.

Bakytbek Tokubek uulu and Meerim Avtandil kyzy

To get a clearer picture of what a Kyrgyz wedding looks like, I have decided to describe two real weddings, one done in modern “western” style and another in “traditional” Kyrgyz style.


August 3, 2011 5 comments