Below are two contributions from Baku resident Azerbaijani women, both of them teachers, giving their view and experiences of expats in Baku. Their command of English is impressive, I have therefore left their words unedited to allow for maximum authenticity.
Two Guest Blogs by Azerbaijani Women
Expatriates in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan is a modern, tolerant and cosmopolitan country. A lot of nations live in different regions of our country, like lazgi, talish, tat and others. They were born here and know all our customs, so we treat them as the Azerbaijani. But there’s also a group of people who has come to our country for different purposes, like business, to take refuge and others. I think, life style and behavior of expatriates depend on the country they’ve come from. For example, expatriates who have come from neighbor states like Iran, Turkiye and Russia feel more self-confident. They live here, like they’re in their own country. They’re acquainted with our psychology, so it’s not so difficult for them to adapt to local life style. In my opinion, expatriates admire our culture and beauty of our country. I can prove their respect to our customs with some examples. Marta, a beautiful girl from America, came to Azerbaijan for a special reason and decided to live the rest of her life here. She can speak Azerbaijan very well and can play in the “saz”. She has appeared in TV programmes several times. There’s also a man from America who can play in the “kamancha”. There’re also a lot of expatriates from Africa and China who can sing “mugam” professionally. I also know an expatriate English teacher who is interested in our customs and try to learn our native language. Foreigners behave very well in public places. Most of expatriates try to obey some “unwritten” rules. I’ve observed it many times in public places that foreign men stand up and give their places to women. I think it’s a simple sign of respect to the local women. I’ve never seen an expatriate who speaks aloud, drops litter or spits on the ground. Generally, we have got a good relationship with expatriates. This kind of rewarding relationship depends on both sides. They’re very kind and polite, so we appreciate these features. Foreigners are far from their countries, they miss their family and can’t speak our language, so it’s normal to expect special treatment. Personally, I try to help them when it’s needed. Expatriates are beneficial in some points. Firstly, they work in different spheres, like education and technology to earn their living and can share their experience with local workers. Besides this as a nation we’re broad-minded people and we’re always ready to accept different ideas and points of view. Their psychology is very different from ours, and can influence on our mind in a good way. Nowadays a lot of expatriates are living in Azerbaijan and the number of foreigners is increasing every year. Personally, I’m satisfied with this situation. It’s a great chance for me to communicate with people from different countries and get information about their culture and life style. They’re always welcome!
Foreign women in Azerbaijan
Hi! My name is Nigar. I live in a more or less controversial country called Azerbaijan. Why controversial? Because although approximately 90% of population follow Islam, our society is secular and we don’t live under the extreme rules as you can see in other Moslem countries. Our people are not extreme so there is no pressure over the foreigners’ religion or the way they celebrate their religious holidays. However it’s a society where people still consciously or unconsciously try to adjust their life to the mentality of society .It especially implies the women in our country. It might strike foreign women. However Azeri people don’t attach any of these unwritten rules to the foreigners here. They might only keep a surprised eye on them. Considering the local women’s modern way of dressing, I think the foreign women don’t experience any problem in this regard. Our people are friendly and keen on talking, especially with foreigners for different reasons (to get some information, to improve their language and so on).This might be off putting for the foreign women. Regarding the private life, I must admit that some Azeri people are prejudiced about the private life of foreign women. They are preoccupied with the idea that family and children matter more for local women than they do for foreign women. “Inspired” by that false impression, Azeri men might appear to be flirtatious. But here Latin-American soap operas and Hollywood movies which have left this wrong impression on our people are to blame. Anyway this idea can easily disappear once you have a talk with local people and express yourself properly. Every day I go out and see a lot of foreign women walk and I personally know some of them who live in peace and safety. I work with two foreign women and every now and then we have a conversation about their life here. Although they sometimes hint at some minor difficulties, which will probably catch any foreigner in a strange country, overall I think living in Baku mustn’t be tough for a foreign woman as they keep their way of life and are not expected to carry out local traditions. At least because of the fact that at one time we were a part of Soviet Union and we used to live altogether with different nations, so we are used to coexisting in peace and tolerance. As an Azeri woman I am always ready and willing to help any foreigner as much as I can. So if you want to further ask something, please, do not hesitate.
- N.B. The opinions expressed by the authors of this post are not necessarily those of Fizz of Life.