Zhanyl Raeva may originally be from Kyrgyzstan, but at age 28 she's a citizen of the world. After finishing high school at age 16 she dreamed of studying abroad. Her sights were set on Paris, but China was to be her destiny. Growing up in a diplomatic family, she studied foreign affairs in Beijing and earned her bachelors degree. A two month break in India for a Hatha Yoga certification turned out to be life changing. The mind, body, spiritual connection she experienced revealed the depth of her potential. On a whim, not really believing she'd be accepted, Zhanyl applied for a United States student visa. To her surprise she was accepted, she studied ballet and other subjects of interest. On an other whim she posted her profile on a modeling website, and quickly got hired. Her modeling career was born. Many more adventures are on her horizon.
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Commercial: [00:00:02] Welcome. You are listening to the overseas life redesign podcast where you'll hear fine, relaxed, and inspirational interviews with people who are really living the dream. I'm Dawn Flemming an attorney turned alchemist and your host for the show coming to you from the tropical island paradise of East level net us Mexico. Listen to conversations with courageous souls who step out of their comfort zone and designed a new way of life. They'll share their experiences, wisdom and offer practical steps you can take to redesign your life overseas. Listen, and you'll believe if you can dream it, you can achieve it.
Dawn Fleming: [00:00:43] OK, today I am here with Zhanyl Raeva now. We've known each other actually for about five years, and she's been visiting here in Mexico for almost a month now. And I have the pleasure of getting to know her a little bit more. And she is originally from Kazakhstan, close now, Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyzstan.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:01:11] See, I butchered that. Oh, well, I was a blend of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyzstan.
Dawn Fleming: [00:01:18] OK, perfect. And you live in Manhattan, in New York now. But I know you also spent some time living in China. And I am just dying to ask you all kinds of questions about that whole experience. You're fairly young for all of the traveling and experiences you had, 28, 28 years old. So, yes. So I always like to start at the beginning. So you want to just tell me a little bit about how the move came about from the I guess the first one to China,
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:01:55] Correct? Yes. So actually, I feel like my first overseas experience was in my country, OK, in the sense that I graduated high school when I was like 16, actually, in my country, elementary, middle school, high school. It's only one place we don't differentiate between schools. So after I finished that, I really, really wanted to study abroad. So I was applying for different universities, studying languages, and then I was really basically dreaming about living abroad. It was, I think, Paris or the USA, whenever it was possible for us doing all the efforts. But then China happened. China happened. First, they sent my application for a school to Paris Sorbonne University, you know, studying French, prepared, like Delph. You know, it's like a language exam. I did that and then I'm like, okay, while I'm waiting for the answer, why don't I try to go to China for, like, a very little course? And we had our close friends that lived in Beijing. And she helped me with, like, you know, like getting into school and applying for it because Chinese Kilkenny just it was so daunting at that time. But I just wanted to really, like, leave my country and explore more. So whatever it was, I was like, OK, I'm open. But and it was two years later after I finished high school, I think, to 18, I lived in Beijing for a short course, like a very intensive Chinese class. Every day we would have a new lesson. And so language. Language, yeah, language. Yet for me, it was a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun, but also very difficult, like mentally, you know, very challenging, totally different to the transition. Because I was already studying English, I was studying French and I'm like, OK, I need to do prepare for all these tests. I need to apply to all these schools. And then the Chinese just came out of nowhere. But it was the easiest way. I guess it's also we share borders with China, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and China. And it's just it was also way less expensive, like going there, you know, like with the salaries we have in my country, going somewhere like Europe or the USA, it's very expensive, very expensive. Like people can't afford us. No. They usually try to apply for some scholarships, you know, like which friends had in France to go to university. You don't have to pay a tuition fee. You just feel like a three hundred euro something. It's public schools, but private schools, they're as expensive as American schools. So I did the. Three months language course, and then I went back home, it was the spring semester, I went back home and I'm like, OK, I'm going to spend the summer back home. And I was waiting for an answer to come from, like French university. And I was denied, like, actually, they told me that I would need to go to school for one more year before I go to university. Like, although I met the requirements for the language, they still need me to go and study for one year at their university school. So and that was incredibly expensive and like, OK. And then I decided to just go back to China again and continue the course. So I went to an orientation meeting and everything and they told me, you can start your bachelor's degree. Now, I was like, Really? What? Because the course that I took, the three months, was very intense. And I got like high scores for that. And they just told me that I can start my bachelor's degree in the Chinese language right away. I'm like, OK,
Dawn Fleming: [00:06:07] Wow. Was that hard?
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:06:09] It was not actually. I don't feel it was hard. It was just it was exciting. You know, once you're in the environment and then the more you learn, actually, the easier it gets because once you know one character, you know the meaning of it. And then when you see that character in combination with the other character and then you know the meaning of both characters, you can figure out what's the meaning of the whole word. OK, so the more characters, you know, the easier the language gets. And the grammar was also it was not it was just so different. That's it. You know, I cannot tell it was hard or something is just very different. You have to have a different kind of brain, you know, for that.
Dawn Fleming: [00:06:57] Yeah. So did you feel that the three and a half month course prepared you well enough for that or?
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:07:05] Yeah, I think I think you it prepared me well enough because the four years that's the program. It's like the main focus was language. So it's continuing to do the same thing. He wasn't like, oh, like after the three months of studying economics business, nothing right away. We would still although we would still learn the language the first two years, you know, and they were like listening, writing, reading, all the basic language skills. We would still do it. But we also study Chinese literature, Chinese history, culture, you know, like things like that.
Dawn Fleming: [00:07:42] Sure, sure.
[00:07:43] So and then the third year, they would let us pick, you know, like Chinese and economics, Chinese and international trades or Chinese and Japanese translations. You can choose translations as well. So was I think after two years in Beijing, I started to feel a little more comfortable because I could make Chinese friends. And then and then we would joke, you know, and that's the most satisfying thing when you can actually joke, right. Foreign language and be ready. Exactly. Exactly. And it was so satisfying. So, yeah. So tell me about the cultural differences between your home country and China. OK, so the cultural difference, I think we are, although we kind of look alike because we are Asians, the culture is different, though very different. So our culture, because we are our country is a former Soviet Union country. We have a lot of Russian influence like Eastern European, much like European, Russian and American channels, you know, so it kind of like it's I think media means a lot. You know what you watch?
Dawn Fleming: [00:08:58] Yes.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:08:59] So we watch that, you know, and then and China.
Dawn Fleming: [00:09:02] So more Western influence in your home country?
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:09:05] I would say more Western influence in our own Lycurgus. You know, it's a majority of people are Muslim in our countrymen, born foreign Muslim, not like very strict Muslims, I guess, very laid back. We just celebrate Muslim holidays and everything. But it's not that I know it's has a lot of Western influence and Muslim culture. So it's a whole mix.
Dawn Fleming: [00:09:31] And then so tell me about going to China. Like, was there any kind of culture shock or?
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:09:36] Was there any cultural shock? I guess there was a little shock because how overcrowded was Beijing? You know, like it was incredibly crowded. It's like lots of people, lots of people. You take the subway any hour, is it traffic? Is traffic jam-packed always. Yeah. And it's. And it kind of like get used to it, you know, first, you kind of complain, oh, I hate this, I hate that or hate pollution. Like my first six months, I started to have, like, a kind of skin reaction. I guess maybe I was the doctor who said I was showering too much. I was probably showering too much because I thought maybe the air's deputed, so I need to shower. So it actually killed the natural bacteria. But after the six months, I started to feel way better, like it's just I think it was really getting adjusted, you know, to food, to everything. It just takes time.
Dawn Fleming: [00:10:36] Big changes.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:10:37] Big changes. Yeah. But in terms of culture shock, you know, because you are surrounded by many international students, you have your kind of like the sort of.
Dawn Fleming: [00:10:48] You were the only one there from somewhere else.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:10:51] Exactly. Exactly. So it was for me, the culture shock was more like, oh my God, look at all these people. There are so different. You know, like you meet people from all the countries like Madagascar, you know, Peru, you know, some places you've never heard of. You know, like a lot of students from Africa, we had China with China was doing. I mean, I'm probably still doing are they offer a lot of like scholarships. So they're attracting a lot of people. Yeah, I eventually got the scholarship myself. So. So, yeah.
Dawn Fleming: [00:11:25] So it was in that environment then. It was pretty easy to make friends with you, your classmates and.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:11:31] It was pretty easy. It was very exciting.
Dawn Fleming: [00:11:34] What about the Chinese people. Did you have very many Chinese native friends? Were they, how were they in terms of meeting new people, were they pretty open, did you find or in Beijing?
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:11:46] I think they were pretty open. I think they're I think foreigners were pretty entertaining to the Chinese people as well as Chinese who were pretty entertaining to foreigners. You know, it's like, OK, yeah, I think I think they were pretty friendly. Yes,
Dawn Fleming: [00:12:01] OK.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:12:03] I had a few good Chinese friends. Yeah. They're the place where I lived, like I stated, Beijing Language and Culture University, and is basically located in the area where other universities are, you know, like Jinpa, one of the best universities like Beijing. It's all located in one area. And you kind of also see students from other universities, you know, and just and they always students, they're so friendly. They want to speak to you. They want to practice English. I mean, my English was not so good at that time. It was OK. It was OK to make friends and stuff.
Dawn Fleming: [00:12:40] Yeah, right. So so it was a pretty positive experience then.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:12:45] It was an amazing experience. It was so much fun. Student Life, you know, like exploring. And it was my first time away from my parents. So I think that was, that was something that I was looking for, I guess to still, like, study and be in the zone, you know. So, yeah, I had out there.
Dawn Fleming: [00:13:03] So you said that you were really had a passion for leaving your country and going somewhere else. Was that something that you'd felt for a long time, like since you were little, or was that something that developed more as you got older?
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:13:16] I think it's something that developed when I got a little older at the age, like maybe teenage ages, like, you know, I think the main purpose or the main reason was that I really wanted to study like I loved school. I wanted to study abroad. And back in my country, I felt like there was education wasn't taking that seriously. I mean, it is taking each person has a degree, you know, it's not like, oh, it's a very basic requirement for you to have a bachelor's degree. But the quality of it was not so great.
Dawn Fleming: [00:13:50] Well-educated population, but just.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:13:52] Yeah, well educated. There's just not as it's not as, you know like if you want a writer, like a research paper or something, you just go Google. There's no such thing as plagiarism. Right. So like in America, they teach that a lot. They really emphasize. And it's but back there, you know, if you come up with an idea, someone steals it and it's just like or someone takes it and it's OK, you know, and you feel bad, you know what I mean? Yeah. So I think it was really I wanted to explore and I also wanted to study to like have a, I guess, like, justice, you know, in that sense. Yeah. Yeah,
Dawn Fleming: [00:14:30] I understand. So what happened after you finished? Well, first of all, what did you have a major then that area of focus.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:14:39] Yeah. So I picked it was fine. I know for some reason a bit for like three months. Japanese, Chinese. I don't know why I did though. I think is just because I wanted to go to another country, you know, OK, because in the third year when you pick a major Chinese Japanese translation or Chinese Korean translation. You have an opportunity to go to that country and study there for one year and I was like, wow, that would be so cool to go to Tokyo and study one year, although it's like sounds like crazy to get another language, you know, I picked it and then the explosion happened that year. I think it was 2016. Remember, they have a nuclear explosion. So my mom said, don't do it. And now I just switched to Chinese and business.
Dawn Fleming: [00:15:27] OK. Mm-hmm. And then did you leave Beijing after you graduated or what did you do after that?
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:15:33] After I graduated. Yes. So I applied for a master's degree for the next. So I finished it in the spring and winter semesters. And then I applied for a master's degree to study international affairs. But then after I graduated, I decided that I needed to reward myself for hard work and study because I was really passionate about going to the gym. And I was like, OK, I really love it. I think I have something in me that that that says like, oh, you have to get a kind of specialty, like a certificate or something in sports, whatever it is. Maybe it's like some kind of like you a fitness camp experience. So I started to research and then I decided to go to India.
Dawn Fleming: [00:16:29] Yes. Yes. And that's where you met Richard, basically. All right. Well, we're going to take a quick break and we'll be back in a moment.
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Dawn Fleming: [00:18:15] We are back with Zhanyl Raeva now, also known as Zaka, I didn't say that in the beginning. That's her nickname. So how did you get that nickname?
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:18:24] my parents gave me you know, they're just like as a kid, I was Zaka and then is I never gave up on the name. And they kept calling me Zaka and it was Zaka off for a very long time. Dealing with the American had to be more adult, like, well, I love it. It's a very cute name. So you went to India and you were there for a couple of months, you said.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:18:47] Yes.
Dawn Fleming: [00:18:48] And you were there to study?
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:18:50] Yeah, I went there for the yoga training. It was 500 hours of hot yoga training. Wow. So they got a certification and that I believe he said. Yeah, yeah, I did. I did. Yes, it was. I was. How old were they? I was twenty-one. OK, I think we wanted twenty-two and I was just looking for some fun experience and you know, do something like physical. OK, but I discovered that there's so beyond physical, you know, later on in yoga. So it was I stayed in Rishikesh, they call it the capital of yoga in India. So that was a fun experience. I had very funny expectations. I thought I would live somewhere in the mountains, very like Aluf. Is that the word like fire-weed, remote, rural, remote area? Remote area. Yeah. And I would hear, like animals, you know, and insects everywhere and no people around. And I thought they would shave my head, you know, for the whole experience. That's what I thought is going to happen, you know. But then they arrived. It was like, OK, actually the place looked very like very much like Islamic terrorist, small place, like very narrow streets and lots of cows everywhere, cows everywhere. And they were treated like queens and kings. A cow is a female always or can be male. OK, so. So yeah. And I stayed at the home. I thought I would stay in some Armstrong, you know, somewhere and I stayed in the hotel. You know, it's part of your pay for the food first for the training and everything is included.
Dawn Fleming: [00:20:35] Ok,
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:20:36] Food living the course. So it was interesting and he was I was all immersed in the training. I would we would wake up like 5 P.M. and then have everything scheduled until basically 8 pm p.m. and then we have some time to sleep and wake up the next day and do the training again. So it was I didn't really just explore, explore it like India. I was more like yoga training and Rishikesh life.
Dawn Fleming: [00:21:08] Pretty intense experience.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:21:10] And it was intense in the beginning because it's like a little bit more, you know, it's going on in my body, you know, like but then after two weeks, it gets better and then after a month it gets really weird. And then after two months, you don't want to leave, you want to stay, you want to do the training. You and the view in this, like, you know, it's it was really good.
Dawn Fleming: [00:21:35] But you did leave.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:21:37] Yeah, unfortunately, I had to leave. I really wanted to stay in India has this power. So you either love it or you hear like a lot of people say that. And it really depends on what expectations of what energy come therewith. You know, like some people I knew there was one girl who would always get attacked by monkeys, you know? Yeah, they would still there. Yeah, they do that not. And she just would have unfortunate, unfortunate experiences one after another. And I think it's because of the mindset that she came with, you know, and then she was really unhappy with a course with the training, she was not satisfied with what she got. You know, for me, it was so beautiful because, well, speaking of the cultural experience, it was not just like me going there and like meeting Indians, but it was my meeting like other students there were mostly from Canada and Australia. Actually, it was really interesting. I would suspect that there were a lot of people from Asia because you had geographically, you know, but a lot of people from Canada and Australia and some from the US and they were all kinds of different ages. And what's common was between all these people that they were all in their transitional stages in their lives. Like someone got a divorce.
Dawn Fleming: [00:23:01] Sure,
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:23:02] Someone got fired. Someone got like you know, or was looking for a new career, whatever. I finished my undergrad, you know, and I was like, OK, what's next? Right, so.
Dawn Fleming: [00:23:15] A lot of interesting details in this call,
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:23:20] And it was really my first experience, like becoming friends with older people, I guess, people who are older than myself for like 10, 20 years. It was really beautiful, you know, because in Asia, in Kyrgyzstan, even in China, it's not so normal. It's not so unusual for younger people to have, like, older people, friends, you know, because there's an age gap and people behave, act accordingly, you know, like or you're too young, you're exactly like this or you have to respect me. Don't come on my level. So in in in India was so much fun. I've got connected. I connected to like women friends, like 10 years old, 20 years old. He was so beautiful. And you were all on the same kind of level, you know, and age didn't matter or is just was so beautiful.
Dawn Fleming: [00:24:13] Nice. You know, I needed my I said, I wonder you didn't want to leave.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:24:18] I have friends who still live there. Really? Yeah. India could be another destination, you know, for someone who wants to move to a new place. Yeah. Easily, because my friend, she had a very interesting story. She had everything good in her career, everything good with her love life. But then suddenly everything fell apart. Her fiance said they canceled their plans and suddenly she had a problem. She could not work with computers anymore. And that means she has to quit her job and what she can do next. It's like the whole life that she was building collapsed one day like it's crazy. And then she just this girl, she stayed in India and she lived in St. Petersburg in Russia, and she was renting out her apartment. And that money was so plentiful in India, you know, plenty of money. She would go travel. She's still she's still there. I saw her traveling all around Asia, you know, like, I guess the money that she was getting from the rent was enough for her to live. This life was incredible.
Dawn Fleming: [00:25:26] Isn't that funny? Well, I would say, you know, God closes one door and opens another. So obviously, that wasn't a door to her future that was waiting for her.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:25:35] Right Right. Yeah, it is amazing. A lot of beautiful stories, a lot of.
Dawn Fleming: [00:25:40] Very cool.Very cool. So then you went to the United States. Is that is that correct? Correct.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:25:50] That happened from nowhere. Really happened, though, chronologically. Yes, it is correct. I mean, I went back home. I had to go back home first because, after China, I went straight to India. I didn't go back OK? And then I had to go back home.
Dawn Fleming: [00:26:05] And so I now I know you told me your parents are living in Turkey right now. Yes.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:26:15] But they were still everyone was still back in my country is at home at that point. At that point. Great. So I went back home for, I guess, a vacation just in this period between me going to chat, going back to China again, doing my masters, and continuing to work.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:26:31] I worked in a nonprofit organization. So so that was pretty much my career. Sounds really cool. Very prestigious, very like, OK, I respect you, admire you, you do. Great job. But it was not something that I just felt like I was missing something. And I think India really showed it to me because there I was using my body for so much in the an increased my, you know, flexibility, strength, and everything. And also the creative parts of myself start to wake up, you know,
Dawn Fleming: [00:27:12] So well, it's that whole mind body spirit connection. Right. You focused on it for two solid months.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:27:18] Right. Right. Yeah. And it was really shocking because you don't think these things are in you, you know, somewhere deep inside, but because you get caught up in everyday life and just have to do, you know, what society thinks is good for you and especially in our countries, you know like I have to get a serious job and everything else. But after that experience, I'm like, OK, that was so mind-blowing. I can't remember what was the point in India when. So there was one place. I think it goes like locust poles or something. So basically I was laying on my chest and then my legs were by my face here like what is? So I was basically what is it like a circle? Like a circle. Yeah, but my legs were above mine. I could see my feet.
Dawn Fleming: [00:28:11] Wow.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:28:11] Like, holy shit. What is this? And that moment was just so incredible because I'm not a contortionist or anything, but it was literally contortions moving on and it was like, wow, if I can do this, maybe there is more I know. Like, I wanted to explore more of that. And I always loved music and dance and everything, and they wanted to explore this creative side of myself. So I went back home, I was going back to China, but then Richard, who I met in India and also another friend who I know from my country, she's also friends with Richard, my partner. They really wanted me to come to New York for summer, you know before I start my master's degree. And then I'm like, OK, but it's really was really hard to get a guest visa, whatever. You know, we just actually know I consider it a tourist visa. And then I'm like, you know what I want to try and apply for like a school in New York. You know, just playfully, you see, like, I don't have money. I don't have enough money for that, you know? But let me just, like, throw. Why not just try it out? I would throw energy there. I'll send an application at half time. So I did it. And then suddenly, like, I'm getting the acceptance letter. What I mean, wouldn't be a master's degree anyway. I would do it a semester of the preparatory course. Write like English, that's what it's called. Bridge program to the American education. So, you know, like, oh my God, you know, I mean, I was really shocked because this is the place where, like, I wanted to be in the first place, kind of, you know, but it was like, oh, this is too unreal. So I'm not going to think about it. So years later, this happens and I'm like, wow, you know? And I went to New York on September 1st. Yeah. And then and then it starts. that's Another story is crazy. It's crazy. I basically, like, abandoned my China plans for New York, which I don't regret.
[00:30:17] And so and you attribute that to the experience in India and kind of the growth that you experienced during that time. Do You think that was the driving force? Yeah, I think it was the initiator. I don't think there was something that was like really driving. I was not really working hard towards getting into America. You know, I was just like, oh, let me try let me prepare all the documents. And you had to prepare a bunch to get in to get a visa because they're so strict with especially with people of my age. They so I'm like, let me prepare everything, get into you. And then the consulate. Right. The guy at the embassy was so cool. She was even joking with me, you know, he was like, so where are you going? Like New York City. Like, where are you going to live with Manhattan? Like, oh, look at, you know, like he was joking. Oh, yeah. So I was like, okay, this is good, you know. So yeah, that's how I got India maybe was like it was an initiator and it's just happened naturally. OK, yeah but it was quite painful to go like to have been my China plants a little bit, you know. But it's another story.
Dawn Fleming: [00:31:27] But you so it was that a decision you made with your head or your heart. My heart.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:31:33] My heart. It was definitely my heart because logically it was not too rational for me to go like because I have already built a very strong foundation in China and I feel like everything, even masters, that he was going to be free from me as well. So it's like economically all the reasons. It was just not rational for me to go there. But my heart really wanted to go. And I'm like, I'm getting the visa. This is probably the sign, so I have to go. So I went and I like my parents. I think they didn't have a choice. They just have to agree with every choice I made, even India, they were like, so scared.
Dawn Fleming: [00:32:13] But they're pretty supportive of you making your own decisions or they were supportive.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:32:18] They would fight about. I would fight back. I know. And eventually, they give up and then I and now they're so chill and come, you know, what can you do? Whatever you want to trust you.
Dawn Fleming: [00:32:31] You trained them.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:32:33] Exactly. Your parents have to be trained. You know, they have to be trained because everyone in your family actually the family. It's a big force that you know well, typically in Asian families in particular. All right. I mean. Yeah, yeah. Asian, Eastern European. Yeah. I think it's everywhere but Europe. Maybe the United States. Not so much. Right. In our country. It matters so much. Who are your parents? What family coming from. So this is the other reason I wanted to leave my country because they can't look at you as your as an individual. They will attach other things like or whose daughter are you? Whose son are you? As things like this, it's just like impossibly annoying if you are like, you know, a kid of someone important, you have to watch every step you make. You cannot do anything stupid or the opposite. Like if you're a son of no one, then it's like, OK,
Dawn Fleming: [00:33:33] Not worth anything.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:33:33] Exactly. And they're like little things. I mean, it's very stereotypically speaking, but it's like a kind of general experience. And you have to I guess, be stronger in my country, you know, like. Of course, when you live there, you don't notice things, you know, we have to go live somewhere and then and then see from the side, I'm like, OK, you know,
Dawn Fleming: [00:33:59] You don't have a reference point, right? It's just normal when you're growing up in it. And it's not until you leave that you can see these things. Yeah. Which is one of the reasons that I think it's really important to travel and to go to other cultures and have these experiences because it helps you define yourself. Right, as much as what you learn from the outside. So tell me what happened to me in New York, like I'm dying to hear this. Oh, my God was a because really, honestly, the first two years are really in this, you know, because it's me going back from China, like having all that experience, you know, starting all over again was like it was. So it was I mean, it was amazing, all those buildings. I'm like, wow, this is cool. This is cool. But then and it's crowded, but probably not Beijing after Beijing and I had already built-in, you know, like, yeah, I knew New York is not crowded at all, you know, compared to Beijing. It doesn't feel the same way.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:35:02] It was just a lot of like disorientation, finding myself again. You know, it's like coming to a new place, coming to new dreams, I guess, like, totally making it. It's not even a U-turn. It's like zigzag, whatever. You know, it was beautiful, but it was hard. Like, I can tell it was really hard because it means you had to start all over again. It's like I didn't pursue what I was pursuing back in China. That's why it was hard. And my parents. So I went to like that program. Right. Did the bridge program. I did it. I finished it. And then after that, I was supposed to either start my degree. So you can choose either a business course or I would have four managers with the opposition. Economics, humanities. Sure. So and I just at that point, I didn't feel like I want to do it. And it was so much money. If it was really like, you know, I had scholarships, yeah, sure, I will do it. But there is like money like very high stakes. And I was like, no, I really love it. I do want to do this. This is worth it, you know. So so I just switched to another school. I was like, so it's kind of a game in New York. You know, if you go there, you want to stay there longer, like you go and be a student for some time. So I switched to like a dance school. I switched to a dance school where they would mostly offer bullying. OK, so. So I had to become an adult. Validus.
Dawn Fleming: [00:36:43] Did you?
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:36:44] Yeah. Oh, my gosh. That is so funny. Oh, my God. They were so funny because I mean, luckily they were all adults in the class, you know.
Dawn Fleming: [00:36:54] Well, you're a tall girl. Like, how tall are you? You're like, I'm like five-eleven five black ballerinas like little teeny teeny teeny tiny.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:37:02] Yeah. That's cool. That's cool. They had all sizes, they had all ages. And mainly, you know, most of these people, maybe half of these people were like they're not because of love for you but me, because the love of a New York City. They wanted to stay to keep their visa. Exactly. So it's like it's you know, it's there should be a whole, like, TV series about this. It's like. Right. Yeah. Because it's so much fun, you know, you could even see a woman like forty years old, you know, like all kind of ages and they just do something else and on the side, you know, and they come to class, they put a check-mark. Ok, I came to class, the two very likely candidates, you know, so it was like Halloween kind of movements, you know, so it was hilarious. So I was there in that school for quite some time, almost a year and a half, a year and a half, and at the same time was helping Richard with his, like, a marketing company. I would do photography for him. I would the social media posts for he might do something on the side that like, I guess looks serious. Right. But then like that's cool. After some time I start to local, like, OK, I kind of like like it. I mean, apart from that, they had other classes but they were the level was not. So I guess it was mainly, mainly focused class school. So and the owner. So the school was the most beautiful people like spouses. They were so kind and friendly they would always have candy, tea, coffee for every visitor. So it was really beautiful here and then it was it felt like a family, you know. But after that, I switched to another place where I thought, like, I can have more growth as a mover, as a movement practitioner. We had the yoga training. I did a little bit of belly as an adult. So I went to another school that also offered a student visa. And then there I think I had my artist developed because I met people who represent cultures within cultures. So when you come to America, when you come to New York City, you know, it's cultures within cultures, you know, like you meet people like from the gay community, from the street dance community, from a club dance community, from all kind of in each community has its history and it's so beautiful. And then you actually realize that like going to a country, going to a place. It's not just that, but it's also like there are so many little tiny communities and cultures.
Dawn Fleming: [00:39:59] Lots of subcultures.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:40:01] Subcultures, that's the word. Yes, yes, yes. So there I was just amazed. And I loved music and all their music videos. They used to watch as a kid all the dances. And I'm like, wow, I actually learn from someone who's been in this music video. Who's that of who lived, you know, this life or who danced with Michael Jackson, who danced with Beyonce. And it was like, wow, this is mind-blowing. Never think of it, you know? Right. It's something that I probably dreamed of on a very deep level. Subconscious as a kid.
Dawn Fleming: [00:40:30] Right.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:40:31] But you don't even fathom it because it's so unreal. It's like but your dream, you know, it's like and then you see it in real life as it was. And to be part of this community, it's even more, you know, after like a year or something. I start to make friends with teachers, like other dancers. And I'm like, OK, I'm actually getting on a professional level. So that was a big change from what I was doing in China. But it just made me so much happier and full of people, you know? And even if I want to go back to, like diplomatic to international affairs, it can be still within the cultures dance cultures. Because honestly, it's, I think all about culture, you know. Yeah. Like everything. Even if you try to make business or anything. And I think what sells it's the truth, know. So I'm really happy to be part of it. And now I'm at the place where I'm like, OK, this is good. And I don't feel down anymore, as I used to in my first two years in New York City, because I was lost like that. The school helped me to really find it. Yeah. And then and then the rest is history.
Dawn Fleming: [00:41:38] So. So you've done some modeling, too, I understand, correct? Yes. How how did that come about?
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:41:44] So I'm told you had to put it into use.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:41:52] I also playfully just created that like accounting on some modeling website or model. Making it a very trashy one. But nevertheless, you know, it gave I met some good photographers who start to build my portfolio and then later on book jobs. So that was also from nowhere, I guess. I mean, I did some modeling back home. I tried to do like modeling shows it was not treated seriously in Beijing. I did some modeling as well because there are opportunities, you know, was like, why not? So in New York City, it's actually kind of picked up. I was like, wow, this is so interesting, you know? And I'm like older. You know, when I was younger, I really wanted to be. But when I'm older, like, OK, opportunities come, I take them, you know? Right. Yeah. So I did some modeling as well. Yeah. That's another community. Right. But still very artistic. Still very artistic. It's also another way to express yourself creatively. Yeah. I enjoy it. I love it. It's fashionable beauty. You know, it's like in the in New York City, you know. Right. Like why not. Yeah.
Dawn Fleming: [00:43:03] You're right there. Right.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:43:04] Right. For sure.
Dawn Fleming: [00:43:06] So I know we've talked a little bit over dinner or whatever, but what, what do you see on the horizon or sort of your next adventure? This has been interesting. I know Richard and his son and you have been here now for a month and we use the word beta test. Right? Right. When you move somewhere to try it out for a while, try a different lifestyle. And you've done several now. But how has this sort of month-long experience in paradise changed your perception at all about what you might experience in the future?
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:43:50] Yeah, I've actually thought about having this kind of lifestyle island lifestyle for some time as well and like what they call being a snowbird. Right. But because of the winters and. Exactly. And Winters I mean, I love New York City, but it's good to get away. It's amazing. But it just has a power to it. And you forget, forget, forget, forget about the rest of the world. Do you know what happens? Because like New York City, it's like another planet, you know, like it takes you. And you can feel very, you know, like suffocating sometimes in there, you know, because if especially if you live in a city where we live now close to Central Park is beautiful. So it's a big change. But before it felt pretty, you know like I could press you, you know, so I would in the future. I definitely see this, you know, like going somewhere and traveling more. But I would love to stay in New York is my base. I think I found my place. I found my communities. And I want to continue to grow and see what's going to go from there and make money in New York City and then go travel to other places because the money you make in New York City, it's going to be good money overseas, you know. Right. So that experienced this. When I went to Turkey to see my parents, I'm like I brought back the money that I saved was like, wow, it's actually, you know,
Dawn Fleming: [00:45:21] I can never let it go as far.
Zhanyl Raeva : [00:45:23] Yeah, exactly. Yeah. You go so far, you can experience luxury, you know, without the local prices. And coming to Mexico was the same experience. I was like, wow, it's actually we probably spend less money than we would live and stay in New York City right now, you know, so in these hard times, it's probably a good idea to have a place like this. But in the future, how it's doable, I don't know. I need to figure it out. You know, I see this was an experience for me that I'm like, OK, it's possible to do this and how do you do it? You know, and it's a big step already to see that kind of experience so that you can have it can be one step closer. Yeah, but I would definitely like to have a home apartment in New York City or nearby and also that they can just go away by pipeline.
Dawn Fleming: [00:46:13] Yeah. Yeah. Be able to take a break for them. Yeah. Different experiences. Well, wonderful. Well, thank you so much for this interview.
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