Merci Bakou #0 – Welcome to Azerbaijan!

Well well well, guess who’s back again online!

-Er… You? -YES! ME 🙂

After months being silent, I finally decided that it was time to stop thinking and start writing about this new adventure I am living and introduce you to the country of fire (but also pomegrenates and tea) – Azerbaijan!

So, basically, seven months ago I started a new job (well, more precisely a first job) and moved to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. After multiple PCR tests, visa procedures and packing difficulties (should I bring my puzzle? what about my knitting stuffs? how many pair of socks do I need for two years?) I finally landed on February 4th on this unknown land, and… well, to be honest, it was love at first sight.

I don’t know why, being in Baku really felt like being home. Of course everything was new and I was very excited to discover the city and the country. But at the same time, I felt very confortable and not disoriented at all. I guess one explanation is that it’s the 6th time I’m moving abroad and I start to get used to the feeling of being in a new place. Another explanation is some similarities between Baku and Minsk, where I used to live two years ago (already!) in the way the city is organized as both were part of the Soviet Union. Just the fact that you can hear some people speaking in russian on the street or that there are russian products in the supermarket are examples of things that reminded me of my life in Minsk. I should say though that Baku is a lot more « flamboyant » than the Belarusian capital (- so for my friends who visited Minsk, Baku will be a totally different experience!)

Despite those small similarities that helped me to not be completely lost in my new environment, I have to say that Baku is a quite unique capital city. I didn’t know much before coming as I wanted to keep a bit of a surprise when arriving. And what an interesting place! Firstly, Baku is not one, but two cities: there is the outer city also called « European city », and the inner city also called « Old city » which have two completely different atmospheres. When one has glassy skyscrappers, large streets full of cars and shopping malls, the other has small stone buildings, paved and narrow streets and hidden cute places all around. You are either impressed by the modernity of Baku or charmed by its antiquity.

Azerbaijan as a country is also one but multiple at the same time. Even if all the citizens are and consider themselves as Azerbaijanis, a lot of different ethnic groups are also present on the territory, so it’s not rare to hear people saying they are from this or that minority. In general those ethnic groups have their own language which is completely different from Azerbaijani or Russian and their own traditions that come along. It makes discovering Azerbaijan a very diverse experience and the country takes great pride in this cultural diversity as it is what makes it so special.

One thing helped me a lot in learning more about Azerbaijan’s culture when I arrived was taking a course called « Surviving Azerbaijan ». The program was great first of all because of its name and secondly because it was focused not only on learning the basics of Azerbaijanis language but also some essential facts about traditions, way of life, music, history, traditions and so on. Our teacher Elnur is just THE best and I would recommend this course to everybody who arrives in Baku and is curious to know more about the country. Or to make new friends as it is also a great way to socialize with other internationals freshly arrived. 🙂

So, so far so good! Life in Baku is going well and I hope to give you more information about this place in a next article! Çox sağ ol (pronounced like « tchor sarol » and meaning « thank you very much ») for reading and see you soon!

Comme si la ville voulait me souhaiter la bienvenue, il a neigé pendant ma deuxième semaine à Bakou, alors que ça n’arrive jamais ! Ô, joie !
Merci Baku 🙂

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