Narmin Alieva is from Baku, Azerbaijan. She started her bachelor studies in Northern Cyprus when she was 16 (wow!). By that time, she had already participated in numerous quiz shows on Azerbaijan TV – with impressive results. After a couple of years in Northern Cyprus, Narmin used the opportunity to apply to the Kaunas University of Technology and got a full scholarship from the Azerbaijan Ministry of Education.
Since 2013, Narmin has been a resident of Kaunas – after graduating from the KTU Faculty of Informatics, she began working and will start her master studies in KTU this autumn. This article, however, will not focus that much on student life in Kaunas – at least not on the “study” part. We’re here to talk about quizzes, a passion our friend has brought to Kaunas from her home in Azerbaijan! She runs a Facebook page “Quiz with Narmin” and organises pub quizzes in Kaunas for English-speaking brainiacs. Let’s get some questions answered, shall we?
Hey Narmin, can you tell us how the quiz thing started? Did you attend some before and decided to do a better one, or did you feel the lack of English-language quizzes in Kaunas?
In Baku, we have a lot of quiz games. When I moved abroad, playing quizzes was one of the things that I was missing the most. Since no English quizzes were happening during my first year in Kaunas, I was attending the ones in Lithuanian with my friends, and they were translating the questions for me!
In my second year at KTU, I started volunteering at ESN (Erasmus Student Network) student organisation, and organised at least one “Brain Battle” with ESN in Kaunas (they were usually happening at Punto Jazz) every semester, just to introduce the quiz culture to as many people as I can.
Last spring we organised it in Džem'pub, and it attracted almost 100 participants. We received a lot of feedback from people that really enjoyed it; they wanted to play more. Since there was no English-language weekly pub quiz happening in town, I thought someone should do it... And it turned out to be me.
It took me some time to decide, as I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to come up that many questions every week, but finally, I agreed on doing it. I’m not completely alone here – my friends help me with promotion, pictures and other stuff. Since last May, I'm hosting a quiz in Džem'pub every week in Spring and Autumn semesters. The new season is starting on September 6th.
What are the topics you cover with your questions? Are any of them Kaunas-related?
Every week I cover different topics, we have four rounds – three of them are from different categories and one general knowledge round. I don’t like to only test people’s fact knowledge, as I see in many quizzes, I try to create the questions in a way that even if you don’t know the fact, you can think logically and try to find the clues leading to the answer.
The crowd is mostly international students who are new to town, so I try to share information about Lithuania and Kaunas entertainingly by asking questions about important events, language or culture. I usually get a “thank you” from Lithuanian participants after this kind of questions.
Also, I follow the It’s Kaunastic page on Facebook, which helps me create Kaunas and Lithuanian related questions as well because you regularly mention the historical and cultural events that remind me to dedicate at least one or two questions for that.
As topics are diverse every week, mixed teams with different nationalities usually get the highest points.
What is the audience for your quizzes? Students, expats? Do Lithuanians join, too?
Mostly international students, EVS volunteers in Kaunas and a few Lithuanian teams working in different companies also join after work with their colleagues.
Is Džem’pub the best possible location for your events?
The layout of the pub is just perfectly fit for organising quizzes. It's really convenient to handle everything by yourself – to host, to play music, to check the answers, to take photos. The DJ booth is in the middle and allows you to observe everything from above.
What prizes can one expect to win?
We have a prize for winners of the week; that's usually a tab at Džem'pub for food and drinks. Prizes for the winners of the month include coupons from sponsors for leisure activities, like escape rooms, paintball, bowling, pool, etc. The final award, for the winners of the season, is a 100 Eur coupon for Džem'pub.
Do you have to attend through the season or can one just stop by when he or she is in town?
Anyone can stop by, play and win the weekly prize, but if they are aiming for the main awards, then it's, of course, better to attend as many quizzes as possible. Anyway, people can expect small surprises or souvenirs from me every week.
Do you have other activities in mind that would help to bring foreigners in Kaunas together?
I’m happy to see that pub quizzes are getting more popular, it inevitably brings people from different backgrounds together and grows their network. Because of that, I’m also planning to do themed quizzes dedicated to a specific topic once or twice a month, like movies, astronomy, travel, and so on, to bring locals and internationals with same interests together.
I believe that cultural events are the perfect way for foreigners to get to know the country more closely. As I see, Kaunas is getting more and more foreigner friendly, and there are many activities to choose from. For me, the favourite time of the year is the Kaunas Hanseatic Days.
Follow Quiz with Narmin on Facebook and join her and like-minded English-speaking residents and guests of Kaunas in Džem'pub. Pssst... You can even buy a t-shirt declaring your love or hate for general questions!