Not Quite Mars One!
This was one of my first glimpses of TCO Shanyrak Village [TCO, Tengiz] as we flew in from Atyrau on a light aircraft for my first 'hitch' as an English teacher back in 2010. I have to admit, I did pinch myself, thinking I was dreaming we were landing on a science fiction movie set for Mars One.
On first impressions, it's a strange place - on second impressions, it's even stranger but once I got to my room in Dome 2 [aptly named after their shape], things got better.
Well, most things got better. Getting up at 5am to do a 12 hour day from 6am to 6pm, wasn't exactly the best of shifts I had ever worked teaching English. As it turned out, I actually only worked a split shift, so after teaching for 3 hours from 6am, I had a nice break before starting teaching again after lunch.
The olympic size swimming pool was one option; the many gyms, another; even the full size cinema, yet another. The food hall in TCOV [20 min walk away from my Dome] was always busy so a short walk back to Dome 2 in 35C was quite pleasant - in the summer. That same walk at -30C wasn't so pleasant in the winter.
Teaching English here was what made these trips so interesting. Working with the guys from all over Kazakhstan and further afield, was genuinely fun and they wanted to learn. They knew how important English was to succeed in their jobs - whatever their role. I got to know many people there [still do] and realised that this was a real village; with different communities; varied activities; and not a bad social life.
I enjoyed working in Atyrau, with all the benefits of living in a city, so I never really understood why so many of my students, based in head office, wanted to work in Tengiz on a 28/28 rotation. After a few months, I understood why.
If you are thinking of a career in the Oil industry, I'd recommend working for TCO in Tengiz. You may even have a job there or in many of the other companies based in Atyrau. However, if you really want to get ahead of the many, then mastering English will certainly help you get ahead of the competition and up that ladder faster.
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