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Astana, Kazakhstan • 14 March 2022

Baikonur Spaceship to France: Damira Almakhanova Sits on a 3D-Throne

One woman in CGI, two master's degrees, three years in space.

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Captivated by outer space

"There was a visit by the Russian-French team. There are founders on both sides and the headquarters is in Paris. Since they came to Baikonur as a whole team every year for a launch, they needed someone who knew about life in Baikonur. I was the right candidate. It was a great time. I love my team very much and keep in touch with them to this day. I dealt with logistics, equipment transportation, and organizational issues. In my 3 years of experience, we worked on 6 space missions, launched spacecraft from 2010 to 2013."

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To see Paris and survive

"Having lived all my life in Baikonur, a town that didn’t even have a subway, I suddenly came to a huge metropolis with a crazy pace of life and energy, a huge number of people and different nationalities and cultures. There was a lot of new information, new strategies of behavior and reactions, which had to be digested and learned in the shortest possible time."

"Thinking that grass is always greener on the other side, we often belittle what we have. Having spent some time in the ‘distant and unknown’, we realize how little we know about ourselves, our people, and our country. But better late than never. Now I am learning about Kazakhstan like never before."

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Double master's despite the red tape

"There was no financial support or scholarship. One of the reasons why I chose France was the fact that it is one of the European countries that provide free public education, but you must pay for the insurance of 300-400 euros per semester. I could not afford to pay thousands of euros. Education was free, but you had to pay for life, and life in Paris is pricy."

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"In terms of studies, this time it was much easier. There were 20-30 people in the group, and there were working adults as well. The difference between our universities and French universities is that the French do not give many subjects. We were given a strong foundation, professors treated us like adults. You have to work on a project for each subject, which you have to present to the group. They teach you to work as a team, manage your time wisely, do public speaking, overcome the language barrier."

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Under the same flag

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Kazakh woman in Paris: now in 3D

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"France is a gastronomic paradise, you can taste different food from different regions, each with its unique product — there are cheese, wine, and meat regions. But I miss our cuisine a lot: pilaf, dumplings, chebureks, and tea. The French don't have hour-long tea parties during dinner with inside jokes. I miss the comforts of home."

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limonmedia.kz
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France
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CGI

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