Common misconceptions and clichés about life in Afghanistan

Hello everyone,

Old clichés die hard, as the saying goes... and living in Afghanistan can generate lots of misconceptions in the eyes of the people.

What are the most common misconceptions about the expat lifestyle in Afghanistan?

What are the most common clichés about life in Afghanistan in general?

Did you have a biased view of the country before moving there? What is you view now?

Thanks in advance,


I have been living and working in Afghanistan since 2010. I work as a communications advisor for donor funded socio-economic development projects.  All expat jobs have a heavy security component, You typically live in a guest house or are isolated within a secure compound with your work colleagues and are taken by secure 'hard" ( armoured) vehicle to/from your work place and meetings. In 2010-12 there used to be a very active social life in Kabul - pubs, restaurants, musical events, and house parties to enjoy at weekends. Those days are long gone now. There are no pubs, very few restaurants, and no social events. The security situation in Kabul now is grave. Chances are your security provider would not allow any social or shopping movements into the city -  only work related necessary travel. Many expats are completely confined only to secure compounds like Green Village  or the Baron. In these compounds you live, work, eat,  and they have gyms, shops, and beauty parlour within their boundaries so there is no need to go out into the city.  If you seek work in Afg, be prepared to live a very restricted lifestyle in these days.  Kidnapping of foreign people is common and the security scene is bad now.  Some NGO workers have a bit more freedom and will be able to go into the city, but not much , and there are risks as sometimes these NGO workers do get kidnapped.  If out in the city, you will be very noticeable and people will stare even if you are only in  a taxi or car.  Tourist travel and day trips out of Kabul are a thing of the past. I used to enjoy a lot of travel in Afg in 2010-12, and got to visit some beautiful places, but it is not safe to do that now, and there is virtually no tourism anymore, There is a company called Unlimited Boundaries ( or Borders), I think, they might often 1 or 2 mountain trek trips each summer, not sure if they are still doing it though. There also used to be an annual ski event in Bamiyan in Feb, but not sure if its on for this year or not. For now, if you go to Kabul or one of the bases for work, its just a ways and means to save money, and of course meet interesting colleagues. You will not get to see much of the country itself.  As a women, you must wear long and loose clothing and cover your hair with a scarf if going outside of a guest house or compound.  Foreign women must not travel alone anywhere in Afghan; not anymore.  It is a shame and sad how things have deteriorated in the last 6 years there.  Hope this helps. Mare

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