Voices of UCA: "This year was full of great memories, UCA has become our second home"’ - Dias Kabykenov
Dias Kabykenov is 18 years old and was born and raised in the Almaty region of Kazakhstan. He is fond of free-style wrestling, chess, and the national board game togyzkumalak. Dias has won the Republican Presidential Olympiad in four subjects including mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology and graduated high school with honours. Dias is studying Economics at the University of Central Asia (UCA). Before to joining UCA, Dias saw the University as an excellent opportunity to collaborate with classmates and help one another to succeed. Since childhood he has worked with accurate data and enjoys science, and aspires to find a good job in Economics after graduation from UCA.
This interview is part of a series featuring UCA undergraduate students’ reflections after completing their first year at UCA. This series is a joint collaboration between the University of Central Asia and Aga Khan Foundation Canada.
Why did you choose to study at the University of Central Asia?
I had a full scholarship to the University of Kazakhstan, as well as to some universities in Russia and China, but I chose the University of Central Asia because UCA truly cares about its students. It provides all the conditions, with only one condition – a willingness to learn. This university prepares experts in their fields, and I am sure I made the right choice.
How was your experience living and studying on campus with diverse classmates, faculty and staff?
Initially, it was difficult to communicate with students from different countries. We kept to groups of students of similar backgrounds, but over time that changed. As we began to learn more about each other and about diverse cultures, gradually we overcame this barrier.
Can you please tell us about your participation in the Spanish club at UCA?
The Spanish club is a big story. In short, I would say that it was a perfect opportunity to explore one of the most beautiful languages in the world. Thanks to our teacher Chynara Temirova, we learned a lot. We even got the chance to practice with two native speakers from Argentina.
How do you feel now that one year has been completed?
The first year passed very quickly. Typically, students look forward to summer vacation, but we're excited to get back to school because on campus there’s a different atmosphere and different priorities. We really have become one big family at UCA.
Can you share what was your biggest academic or personal challenge this year? How did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was the English language barrier. But our teachers helped me overcome this barrier – for which I am grateful.
Do you feel like you have grown personally/academically after completing the preparatory programme?
I have changed a lot this year. I used to be shy about my English abilities, but thanks to our professors and the English-speaking atmosphere on campus, I have improved my theoretical knowledge and my practical English skills.
In addition to becoming accustomed to the immersive English campus environment, the preparatory programme prepared us for the second year of studies in several ways. We are ready for group work and our teachers developed in us a sense of responsibility. I think the second year will be easier because of the academic training we received this past year.
As part of UCA's five-year undergraduate programme, students complete an intensive preparatory programme year. Developed in partnership with Seneca College in Toronto, this programme is designed to help students attain the necessary English and critical thinking skills to succeed at the university level.
Do you have a favorite memory from your first year to share?
This year was full of great memories that will remain in my mind forever. But the most important one was my first view of the campus when we got off the bus and saw all this beauty, in a place that became our second home.
What do you aspire to become in the future? In your opinion, how does studying at UCA help you reach your dream career?
Not only does UCA prepare professional specialists, but they also prepare future leaders. I aspire to be a leader and professional in my field of Economics.
If you could share advice to incoming students, what would you tell them?
If you are ready to study hard, make new friends from different countries and are open to accept different cultures and traditions – UCA is exactly what you need.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
The University of Central Asia (UCA) was founded by His Highness the Aga Khan and the Presidents of the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. In addition to providing an international standard of higher education, UCA aims to promote the social and economic development of Central Asia and help the peoples of the region to preserve and draw upon their rich cultural traditions as assets for the future.