Traveling Tim


Junior Timur Rakhimbayev has visited 21 countries in his lifetime

At age nine, Timur “Tim” Rakhimbayev left his home country and everything he knew behind him.

“I’m originally from Kazakhstan, but I haven’t been there in the past 13 years,” Rakhimbayev said.

Rakhimbayev, a junior International Relations major, is only 21 years old and has traveled to as many countries as his age. He’s also been to 14 U.S. states.

Rakhimbayev’s father works for the U.S. State Department. Wherever his father went, Rakhimbayev followed for six years.  The first country Rakhimbayev and his father traveled to was Armenia. They lived there for four years.

“It was the longest country I stayed in next to Kazakhstan,” Rakhimbayev said. “It wasn’t the best experience because I was so young and I didn’t know the language.”

When he was 16, Rakhimbayev was sent to boarding school in Switzerland.

“My parents thought that it would be a good experience for me to become more independent and not have to always rely on them,” Rakhimbayev said.

He said going to boarding school prepared him for college. He also said boarding school was strict but was a valuable experience, and if he had a chance to do it again, he would.

Traveling around the world he said had its positives and negatives for Rakhimbayev. He got to see the world at such a young age, and now he feels he is able to adapt to any climate, country, culture or language.

His favorite country has been Malta, a little island close to Sicily on the content of Africa. He was there for one week on vacation. What made him enjoy his time there was the food, which is a mix of African and Mediterranean, and the people were friendly.

The negative side is that he has been to six schools, his closest friend is from the 10th  grade lives in Seattle, and his family is all over the country.

“The last time all of my family was together it was New Year’s 2008,” Rakhimbayev said. “We all sat at one big table [to] basically celebrate Christmas and New Year’s in Kazakhstan.”

He said that it makes him kind of sad when he hears other students saying they are going to a visit their family on the weekend because he can’t do that. His mother, who works for the military, is a medical physiologist in Augusta, Ga. His father is in Africa and his older siblings are in Kazakhstan.

When he is on summer or winter breaks, he will alternate on visiting one or both of his parents who are still married.

Rakhimbayev’s travels have taught him to be more thankful for the simple things in life. Updating his Facebook profile, having the coolest phone or having a certain car aren’t the things that he can’t live without.

He loves working out three times per week for an hour a day; if he doesn’t work out he said he has too much energy. He misses eating wild horse back in Kazakhstan, and his favorite American food is burgers.

“My first year I was here I drove around looking for a Wendy’s and everywhere I went I saw an abandon Wendy’s building,” Rakhimbayev said. “I think it was the saddest day of my freshman year.”

For the past three years, Rakhimbayev has been at Webster. He has worked within the University Center at the fitness center, pool and the athletics department. When the previous pool supervisor graduated in May, Rakhimbayev applied and was promoted to supervisor of the pool by Myrna Homm, coordinator for fitness and aquatic center and adjunct faculty.

Homm met Rakhimbayev because he was an avid fitness center user.

“Tim is one of the hardest working college students I have ever met,” Homm said. “He goes above and beyond to help other staff members and myself making the University Center a better place to be.”

When Rakhimbayev receives his degree, he would like to do two things: find a job and, something most graduates may not want to do, settle in somewhere. He said he doesn’t care where, but he would like to say in one place for a while.

Eventually, he would like to start traveling again. Taiwan is one of the countries he would love to see. He has a few other plans regarding what he wants to do when he graduates college.

“If I could stay here (United States), I’ll stay here. If not, I’ll go to Canada and become a citizen or join my dad or go back to Kazakhstan,” Rakhimbayev said.

Rakhimbayev is considering possibly becoming a citizen of Canada and going to graduate school there because Canada is more welcoming to foreigners. After graduate school Rakhimbayev wants to work with the Military or follow in his father’s footsteps and work for the State Department and help develop and support poor countries.

Homm said the student she met three years ago has grown.

“I think Tim is more open-minded and takes more opportunity to consider other peoples point of view,” Homm said. “I also think he might laugh a little easier now than when he first arrived here.”

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