Alina gave me a card with her number on it, and caught me by surprise. Michael told me that means I’m supposed to ring her and invite her out on a date. It’s weird, she sees me every day, if she wanted to go out… she could just ask directly? In the end she invited me to watch Solaris at the university film club with her, I went along and really enjoyed it. Was that a date?

I’ve gone out to eat twice with Ieva, one of the Latvian students. We usually have a conversation which goes a bit like this:

“hey Pierre, have you had lunch yet?”
“no, I’m quite hungry”
“me too, do you want to go to kaganat?”
“yeah, okay”

We’re just two friends having a meal together, in the Kaganat canteen, which is really not a romantic place. Eating together in the canteen definitely doesn’t count as dating. Although if I’m honest, Ieva is very pretty and I enjoy hanging out with her.

There’s a person in my political science class called Svetlana. I come in early to every lecture, and so does she. She always comes over and talks to me, every time. She seems friendly enough, so I asked if she was doing anything after class, she said she was free and gave me her number. I have learned, I know what it means when a girl gives you her number.

Immediately after walking out of class I realised I had to go to the visa office, so I promised to call her later and ran off. My visit to the visa office took much longer than expected, I called her once I was out but she didn’t pick up. I figured that she had probably left the campus by this point so I headed home. Did I miss a chance there?

I like hanging out with Yu Zhu, an international student from Singapore. She likes spending time in museums, she’s interested in Kazakh culture, she dislikes clubbing. We went on a couple of long trips, aimlessly wandering around Almaty together, exploring the city. She doesn’t wear makeup, or perfume, or dresses. She always just wears trousers and a t-shirt, or a plain blue jumper. There’s nothing pretentious about her.

Some people were going to the Miss Almaty beauty contest, I asked Yu Zhu if she wanted to come, but she politely refused. I felt a mixture of rejection and relief, and in the end I didn’t go to the beauty contest either. She’s coming to China with us tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to spending the week with her, wandering around Xinjiang together.

I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by nice people who I get along really well with. Unfortunately, I also know that in 3 months time all the friendships I’ve made here will disappear, and apart from Michael I’ll probably never see these people again in my life.