Well, there it was gone. I’m currently sat on the first of two planes on my way home to London, after an amazing 10 days in Uzbekistan. There are not enough words to describe the experiences and beauty of this country but I’m going to give it a go, but first I’m going to quickly reflect on the last day.
So yesterday we spent the morning at the local bazaar, where we bought all sorts from traditional jackets, ceramics and pictures to carpets and instruments! As soon as we arrived at the markets it was clear to see the culture of Uzbekistan spilling over, from stool owners trying to sell you various antiques to learning how to haggle on prices, although as obvious visitors to the country, we didn’t always get it as cheap as some of the WIUT students, so they soon offered their help to us. The afternoon was spent in the University and involved a closing ceremony, where we all received our certificates and had the chance to feedback on our experience of the Summer School. After that we spent the rest of the evening eating more Palov and socialising, before saying our final goodbyes and heading back to the dorms for our final night, ready for a 4am journey to the airport.
When I was asked if I wanted to come on this trip I immediately said yes, it was only a day or two later I realised that I knew nothing about Uzbekistan apart from the fact it was in Central Asia. Even my parents who have always travelled, had no idea about the country and for that reason were 100% behind me going and experiencing something completely new. Fast forward four weeks and there we are, all at Heathrow eagerly awaiting our flight out of Western life and into a completely different culture.
I’m going to start with the City of Tashkent. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect but I don’t think it was that. Driving from the airport to our dormitories, the roads were full of 1950’s style cars, and I mean full! It was like stepping back into history, to a much simpler time and in many ways I liked that. But one thing that I initially didn’t like were the taxi rides, two words; ‘hair raising’, the first one was definitely the worst, with a lack of road markings from our point of view and order, the 15 minute ride to university the first day was definitely an experience, a near death experience some might say! Without travelling far, Tashkent’s modern and historic buildings come shining through as a symbol of their history, but also their development up to this point.
Like with many places, they are only as good as the people who live there and in this regard Uzbekistan has nothing to worry about. I’ve already said words cannot describe the beauty of the country, but this time words really cannot describe the kindness and generosity of the people. While there we met many incredible WIUT students, all of whom helped us more than we would have ever expected, from those who were with us all day, everyday to those who we saw during classes. Whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, they would do all they could to provide. It was said by many on the last day, but we leave as not just acquaintances but friends. If the rest of this generation are half as ambitious, dedicated and kind as the students I had the pleasure of meeting, Uzbekistan has a very bright future ahead of it. Although we were a group of very few visitors to the country, Uzbekistan needs to be seen by more people than just us and the people who live their, but until that happens, I’m happy to be one of the few that has had the opportunity to experience it.
So WIUT and UoW, thank you! Thank you for the experience, thank you for the memories and thank you for the new friends. It’s been great!