Shocking Welcome to Tajikistan

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6,611 miles away from home & exactly halfway across the world. After a ten and a half hour flight from the Chicago O’Hare airport to Istanbul, Turkey, I could feel the the journey to Dushanbe, Tajikistan was underway.

First, let me tell you how beautiful the Istanbul airport was! After getting off the packed bus, I was excited to see this amazing airport that everyone talks about. I do have to tell you though, the bathrooms are not so beautiful, but getting over that little detail and exploring the main part of the airport, that minor detail didn’t even matter! Gucci, Versace, Louis Vitton, Ray Bans, Calvin Klein… all of which were inside of this massive airport! Seeing all of these name brand stores, I felt like a little kid in a candy store… which they had as well! I was so glad that we had four hours to spare and spend time in such an amazing airport.

After meeting up with the Connecticut students and teachers, we waited in the Istanbul airport for about four hours. We then quickly walked over to our gate at which our flight was going to take off to Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The moment was finally here!

After a lot of confusion as to where I was supposed to be seated on the plane, I finally figured it out. What a packed flight! This flight was a lot more uncomfortable compared to the first one to Istanbul. After a long four hours of being distorted in all types of ways, we finally landed in Dushanbe. Walking off the plane, I could feel that the air was very different. We all swarmed into the small airport like bees to honey and let me tell you, that was a brand new experience to me.

Observing everyone in line really made realize how impatient people can be. We arrived at 4:15am and after an hour, still had yet to receive our visas. The time had finally come to fill out our forms and at around 6:30am, we finally claimed our luggage.

Not able to speak Tajik, this process became a little difficult for me. I picked up my three hundred pound suitcase and placed it onto the scanner, where waiting on the other end with a cart, was a little boy. We picked up my suitcase with no hesitation and placed it onto the cart. He’s trying to tell me something in Tajik, but I could not understand. Walking another two feet I come across a big, scary man that asks me if I would like a taxi. I decline his offer, but he insists on getting me one. As I walk out of the airport doors to see my fellow students and teachers, I realize that I am the only one with my luggage being wheeled out. I the quickly grab my luggage off of the cart, followed by the little boy begging for money at my side like a puppy.

At this moment I had not been feeling good, I was tired, and adding this to the situation made me feel even worse. I felt bad because I had no money to give the little boy and it broke my heart to say no. As we were waiting for the bus to pick us up, everyone around us were observing us as if we were an exhibit at the zoo. Being an individual who does not appreciate being stared at, this frustrated me very much. Did I have something on my face? Did I do something wrong? I will never know what they were thinking, but it was definitely a feeling of discomfort.

When we arrived to the hotel, it was absolutely beautiful! I entered my room in awe and was so happy to be staying in such a beautiful place.

As we come to day three of being in Dushanbe, I have really come to realize how beautiful this city really is and can not wait for what this trip bring next.