7 Tips for Academic Mobility in Kazakhstan
Milana Baysultanova and Daria Omirbekova, HSE international full degree students originating from Kazakhstan, share a few tips about their homeland with those who plan their exchange semester at partner universities in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
If the following information is relevant to you, congratulations! You will live in a dynamic, warm and beautiful city of Almaty. What do you need to know to make your mobility there comfortable and exciting?
The situation with dormitories varies from university to university. Not all partner universities can provide student accommodation. You can check in the Program Catalogue whether the host university provides housing.
If you need to rent a place, pay attention to the most popular and reliable website for finding accommodation - krisha.kz. There are also other online services such as Airbnb, Booking, market.kz and OLX.
Be careful as due to the growing demand for rental housing, a lot of scammers appeared on the Internet. Be sure to sign a contract and avoid paying any large deposits/advances before formal arrangements are finalised.
It is quite easy for foreign citizens to get a bank card in Kazakhstan. To do this, you will need to present your international passport, obtain an IIN (Individual Identification Number) at the Citizen Service Center, and obtain a local SIM card (the host university will instruct you regarding an IIN and migration registration).
What banks can you apply for a card to?
Kaspi.kz is considered to be the most efficient bank. It is the most convenient for everyday payments (you can pay via QR) and transfers within the country. It will take a couple of minutes to get a card at any branch of the bank if there is a card dispenser there (a machine that prints cards).
Halyk Bank is very convenient to deal with currency. To obtain a bankcard, a foreign citizen should go to any branch of the bank and order a plastic. Your card will be ready within a working day.
How can you transfer money to Kazakhstan from Russia?
In Kazakhstan, you cannot pay or withdraw money from plastic cards issued in Russia. Officially, the payment system MIR is considered working, but it can be quite difficult to find a bank really serving it.
You can get the most favorable currency exchange rates in private exchange offices. You need to have an international passport with you.
Your monthly expenses in Almaty most likely will not exceed the expenses in Moscow or St. Petersburg.
Public transport in Almaty is very comfortable. The most popular type is buses and trolleybuses. There is also a metro in the city if you need to get from the eastern side of the city to the western side quickly. A trip by any type of transport costs 80 tenge (10 rubles) by an Onai card (like Troika in Moscow). You can ask the host university to assist you in getting a student Onai card. Then it will cost you 40 tenge (5 rubles). If Beeline is your mobile operator, then you can pay the fare using SMS. If you have neither Onai nor Beeline, then you can pay in cash, but then the fare price will be 150 tenge (20 rubles).
The most popular city map apps are 2GIS and Yandex.
4. Mobile communication
It is better to purchase a SIM card at an operator's office so that your number is immediately registered. The main operators are Beeline, Tele2, Kcell, Altel. The average price of a one month plan with mobile internet is approximately the same for all operators - 3,000 tenge (450 rubles).
5. Medical assistance
If you obtain insurance in advance, the company will provide you with the contacts of the partner clinics, where you can get medical assistance for free.
If you do not have insurance, you can get paid medical assistance in any private clinic. To do this, you need to have an identity document and an IIN with you.
Arbuz.kz - online supermarket (prices are higher than in offline supermarkets, but the quality of products is very high).
1Fit – a single subscription to have access to gyms around the city.
Olx is like Avito in Russia.