Brunch Success, Research Fail

The plan for today was to go to brunch with a friend and then head off and put myself in isolation to do thesis research. Well 8 hours later and I was still at the brunch place. Yes, 8 hours later. I think that is a record for how long I have stayed at a restaurant.

Now my friend has lived in Ankara before and the first time I met her, she raved about this brunch place. Then she was worried that it wouldn’t be the same as previous years and was super concerned, but it was BETTER than she remembered!

So for 12 Turkish Liras you have open access to 3 or 4 tables of breakfast/brunch foods AND as much fresh squeezed Orange Juice and Strawberry Juice as you want! The juices in and of themselves are worth the money – while juice is cheap here you still would pay like 10 lira just for a pitcher of OJ and we had 4! haha –> but let me just say that 2 more people ended up joining us. So we only each put away a pitcher on our own. haha. My immune system needed some boosting…

This was the first round of food

The second round of food

and my Turkish drinking problem

2 pitches of oj

 

After we were unbelievably stuffed I was taught Tabla – backgammon! YAY! I’ve been wanting to learn since people are always playing at cafe’s and I finally got my chance. Still learning the rules (not sure I could teach someone else yet) but I am quite the lucky dice roller – or so I am told. Doubles were my friend today (:

By the time we realized we’d been at the restaurant so long we finally decided to leave. Now the plan was to go home, but tomorrow is the last day the Dinos will be in the city and my friend still wanted pictures so she lassoed me into joining her. The dino park was fun – like always and going there led to the detour of taking a city bus tour of Ankara! The buses are open roof and window so super breezy and cool and the best part is they are free. Super cheesy and touristy (even though it is all locals – we were the only non-Turks) with Turkish music being blasted.

This is where video should be inserted but I am having difficulties #technology

Now because I ate so much at brunch and didn’t run I decided on walking the 5km home – great choice because it let me think and clear my mind – since it was a hard day and all…but the weather has cooled off a bit in Ankara so I am grateful for that at least. Room is still hot, but eventually I will get use to it – or so I hope.

Cheers to lazy days

n

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Milestones & Bad English

My aim is for this post to be short and simple – easiest way to accomplish that – a bullet list

1) Passed my Turkish level exams – woot!

2) Had fish for the first time today – woot!

3) Had dinner with an American, my Japanese roommate and an Iraqi classmate and her sister – woot!

4) My English is subpar these days and I’m suppose to be an English teacher here – boo

5) In conjunction with #4 the structure of my English sentences is mirroring that of Turkish grammar when speaking – boo

Off to watch Friends in Turkish (if I manage to stay awake through the opening song)

Happy Friday to all and to all a good weekend

n

 

Impulse Buys, House Slippers and Oral Exams

Something has overcome me this week because I keep on making impulse buys. Tuesday it was fresh squeezed orange juice (get my vitamin c dose). Yesterday it was towels (important – right?) and today it was almonds (protein source). Now while none of these are a waste of money I realized that I can’t get too into impulse buying or I will start wasting money (no bueno). Not to mention I will have the impulse to buy baklava or dondurma (Turkish ice-cream) every time I walk buy a stand (and they are like every 20 ft) and not only can I literally not afford it money wise, but I would start putting on weight in a heartbeat (the 20 ft to the next stand is not nearly enough to burn off the honey saturated calories that make up baklava).

House slippers. House slippers. House slippers. The Turks love them, the Germans love them (family experience), but I do not love them. In fact there is nothing I love more than being able to walk around barefoot – inside and outside. Outside is not an option here, so I do inside but to the great dismay of the host family. It’s one thing we do not see eye to eye on – they are always concerned that my feet are cold – but really when it is so warm out, my feet are sweating – not freezing. If it were winter I’d be all about the house slippers (or at least my wool socks). I do try to wear my flip flops that I only where indoors when I am home – but I forget – it’s hard to change habits (especially ones that you don’t want to change). So for all you who are able to run around barefoot – I am super jealous.

Today I took the first of four of my exams to go on to the next Turkish course. It consisted of reading a passage, answering some questions that were on the passage and then answering some personal questions. Then the teacher went around and you had a nice five minute conversation with her about the passage, the answers you scribbled down and lastly it was a free flow convo that you would have with her. Pretty much throughout the past month she has been collecting information on us so asked random questions about what she did and didn’t already know about you – kinda cool. After you were done the teacher would just rip the passage up – so awesome! Nothing says finished like ripped and thrown in the garbage paper. Pretty sure I nailed the speaking – tomorrow is writing, reading and listening. The latter is what I am concerned with. Sometimes the listening exercises are super easy, while at other times I feel like I’m listening to a foreign language and not Turkish…catch my drift….

I stumbled upon this song in my outings – has a nice little ring to it – best part is that the Turkish singer’s name was translated into Tokio Hotel – super wrong since it is Fudan Ara. Yok Yok – No! No! – as in something can’t be found. Var is its opposite.

My host family has caught on to my love of bananas (I may have mentioned this) but it is super cute because the other day the dad went to the market and made sure to buy me bananas and he told me that he bought them for me. However, he ended up buy TWO bunches – like 20 bananas – haha. Needless to say the house is not short of bananas – and if I can’t eat them fast enough (on top of all the fruit they buy – it’s sooooo good though) then I’ll just make some banana bread again – since it went over so well the last time (:

Said good-bye to two of my students today because it is now crunch time for them and their exams. I learned quite a bit about the Turkish education system, Turkish culture and that gas in Turkey is either the first or second most expensive in the world – 20 TL a gallon – that’s almost $12 – complaining about $4 back in the US seems trivial to that. They got a great laugh from the expression of shock that canvassed my face when I heard that – almost choked. You can get a 5 kebaps for that price!!!!

Lastly, before I head to the park for my run – Germany vs. Italy Semi-Final soccer game tonight – O.M.G. –> Of course I am cheering for the motherland – Germany, but my heart aches for Italy too – my home for 5 months 2 years ago. Last night’s game (Spain v. Portugal) was quite the hanger – kept me up way past my bedtime – gotta get to bed at a decent hour tonight since I have exams tomorrow. Grrr to being an hour behind Europe.

UPDATE:

Post run necessary inclusions for the day.

1) Record for run in Turkey 7.5 miles – host dad gave me a high five for this – and I wouldn’t have realized this if he didn’t ask me how far I ran

2) A boy hanging out in the park decided to run alongside me and try to strike up a conversation (mind you he was wearing jeans) – he last a good mile and a half before I tuckered him up – valiant effort but super awkward and I don’t wish that upon anyone – let a gal run in peace. Thanks for the security guard for saying something too (:

3) I saw a cat attack a bird – I was in shock

4) Besides jean boy (with a super loud step mind you) my other entertainment was the equivalent of Michael Jackson on roller blades – ohhh it was good.

5) Host mom invited myself and the other student to their summer house in Bodrum (on the sea) for the Bayram Holiday (in August, post Ramazan – Ramadan) – hoping I can make it work with my language courses (:

Happy Thursdays from Abroad

n

Secret Ovens for Turkish Pide

I just found out one of the most interesting things yet – and it’s all because I wanted to watch my host mom make pide (a traditional Turkish dish – pita topped with a mixture of lamb, tomatoes, onion, red pepper and spices). Little did I know I was only going to be able to watch her prepare the mixture and not actually bake it. People in the neighborhood prepare the topping at home and then take it to a restaurant in the neighborhood (right next door to our apartment building) and pay a small fee to use the traditional open fire oven. Now I was told you can make it in a “normal” oven but it just takes longer and is harder. I am completely fascinated by this. Not to mention dinner was delicious – wishing I could’ve eaten more. And it was the first time all 5 of us (host mother, father, sister and the 2 students) all ate together AND at the dinning room table. It currently was not covered in its typical drying mint. But, why I didn’t eat more  you may be wondering…

–> Insert warning here for a possible overshare of information

Well sadly me and the porcelain throne have been in fair company lately. Monday night (yes after my bad case of the Monday) I fell super ill and was up till about 4am puking my life away. Instead of my head resting on a pillow that night I was either in writhing pain on the bathroom floor or keeled over the toilet wanting to scream blasphemous words to the world around me.  Now being sick is no fun and super uncomfortable (literally, but also super uncomfortable in the social context), but when you are in an apartment with 4 other people and you know that all sounds in the bathroom echo because of the tile walls – it is just taken up a few more notches of embarrassment.  Not to mention the following morning I was swarmed by both my host mother and father being super concerned with what caused my illness – my answer –  “bilmiyorum” I don’t know and not because I didn’t know how to say it in Turkish but rather I really didn’t know what caused my body to hate me so much. Could have been bad water, bad food, heat exhaustion, a food allergy, maybe even something else… Well after their extreme concerns the dad let it be known that I was going to have to eat breakfast with him because he kept saying you will have no energy because you have nothing in your system – he was definitely right about that. So there I sat with my host father, still “discussing” my issues and eating bread and drinking tea. The only good thing of the entire situation was that by some grace of God that Tuesday was the one day that my class had been bumped up to start at 11 instead of 9 – I can’t express how grateful I was for those two extra hours.

While me and the porcelain throne have parted ways, I am still having stomach pains throughout the day and I have no clue why. I am trying to stick to tame foods and all that grandness, haven’t gone running and am drinking plenty of water, but still I feel like Aladin’s sword is piercing through me multiple times a day (Aladin did have a sword – right???).

Hopefully I figure out what’s wrong and soon – because as of now my face shoots into an expression of pure agony at the most inopportune moments – thinking I scared a poor lady on the walk home today….not to mention I teach tomorrow and Friday so don’t want to be wanting to curl up into a little ball when giving an English lesson – that would not be good.

Until I come across a better solution the fetus position will just have to be enough – I guess it doubles as a yoga position too (;

Post dinner I found myself in the living room with everyone else and the irony of the situation is enough to share – the father came across a TV show in English about Azusa’s home town of Kyoto in Japan – so there we were with me reading the subtitles when the dialogue was in Japanese, Azusa understanding the Japanese and the host dad and daughter watching happily along. All the while my host mother was being diligent about her evening prayers.

Definitely a good evening of bonding in the apartment.

Cheers to delicious meals but not to stomach troubles

n

Case of the Mondays

Today when walking to the park to go for a run I saw a mother hit a rock with her stroller in the road and the stroller passenger – aka the toddler didnt have his seatbelt on so he just fell right out – that’s how I felt this morning- like I had fallen flat on my face – one wrong thing after another.

First in walking to class I ripped my NEW shirt (yep my first clothing purchase in Turkey) on a tree – thus it lasted a good whole 3 minutes on the streets of ankara – maybe salvageable but who knows. My roommate was super sad for me and yet while I am pissed about my shirt being ruined I will now beware of that tree that just happens to be growing in the worst position – the middle of the sidewalk.

Then because I had to go home and change (gaping hole in shirt would only cause more attention to be drawn to me – no fun in that) I was late for class. Granted the only other time I was late for class was when the metro doors got stuck and wouldn’t open – talk about worst case scenario for someone who is claustrophobic. Have I mentioned how hot the metros can be here… That was a hard explanation to the teacher and I knew explaining the shirt would be too – but gratefully she never asked – just gave me a smile – wondering if she asked Azusa since she usually arrives post me – a little switcheroo we had today.

Then while in class the gal sitting next to me accidentally spilt her water and got a bit on my workbooks – could’ve been worse though – another gal’s books and phone were completely soaked and dripping. By now I was just in need of a laugh – always can count on my Syrian and Libyan classmates or Turkish teacher  to rise to the occasion of providing a good chuckle. We were talking about posing for pictures today in one of our readings and it is well known that “peace-signs” are a staple in many Asians photos – but be sure to know that the placement of the peace sign is different depending on the nationality. Japanese like the peace sign head on by the mouth in an “OHHH” position. Also, I’ve been told for them it stands for a V for victory and not necessarily peace – I have already enjoyed my peace sign photos with Azusa (my Japanese roommate) – not to mention that the double peace sign was my thing when I was 22, nothing wrong with a little 2-2 action (:

For Koreans it is higher up on the face and usually to the side and Chinese sometimes do it facing into their mouth – having my Turkish teacher act all these out and then the Chinese and Japanese students (no Koreans unfortunately) in class applauding her was quite the sight to see. While the only common language amongst the class is Turkish and not all is always understood correctly – this went thoroughly understood with no need for a translator – love!

What else went wrong in the class was I did the wrong homework assignment – ahhhhh! I have had night terrors of this happening before but was so confident that I had done the right assignment – 3 books to work with in the class and it was bound to happen – just add it to my list of things going astray for the day.

Now I thought my day had turned for the better, but a stepping on a piece of gum while walking home and being “softly hit” by a car that decided to run the red light needed to be thrown in to the mix as well. At least I can say that I am still alive in the game of Frogger and didn’t take on any serious injuries – just a blow to my Turkish street cred. (few witnesses though…I think). All of this was washed away with a little S3 – sister skype session and while my day seemed rough she shared this great quote from one of her friends with me “The grass is only greener on the other side until the bull shits” so while other people’s lives around me seemed like they weren’t hit by the bad luck charm today, they too may have been having a case of the rough Monday.

My 4 mile run in the park helped clear me of my troubles too and hopefully put me on the right track for the rest of the week (huge Turkish exam Friday so will be prepping for that). Nike also updated their interface/set up of the Nike+ running app – while I loved it before I now LOOOOOVE it! I was a little thrown off by it at first but am realizing that the new features and design will be even more useful and I will thoroughly be utilizing the app. OHHH YES.

Finished the evening chatting it up with Azusa about movies – youtube definitely came in handy – is everyone aware that Taken 2 comes out in October and takes place in Istanbul?!?!!? – Yes I am looking forward to that – might not be the best movie to represent a great city but I guess we will find out soon enough (hopefully it comes out in theaters shortly after its October release in the states). And now sharing my almonds with the 6 year old neighbor gal – may have found someone who loves them as much as me – no frets though she shared dut with me – mulberries (: and I got my first trial at eating pumpkin seeds – the Turks are talented with the shelling of them in their mouths – while I am horrible at sunflower seeds I think I may actually be worse with pumpkin seeds – didn’t think it was possible.

And got a great email from my dad’s secretary to top of my day – so while my day started out rough it has ended on a more pleasant note – complete with the call to prayer sounding just as I wrap this up.

Bad luck or fumbles are bound to occur – doesn’t matter where in the world you are, but there is always more good than bad – my motto to keep trekking along.

Stay tuned for a recap of my adventures in Southeastern Turkey this weekend (:

Cheers to rough days turning more pleasant

n

Shopping Help

A quick post before I hit the  road air for Marden/Diyarbakir!!!

While walking home from school I decided to shop in a clothing store – something I’ve done numerous times here before – the AC cools me off a bit on my 40 min walk home. All was going well until the gal working in the store asked if I needed help – I replied no just looking, but she really must have wanted to help because before I knew it I was whisked off to the changing area and clothes were being passed back and forth.

Now I am not a big fan of help in the US and thus can usually ward off – but that is a lot harder in a country that is all about service and when the store gal is completely intrigued by this American who is “just shopping around”

There was a bit of a problem though – while I didn’t mind some of the stuff she brought I wasn’t crazy about most of it – just not my style and on top of that the sizes were all over the place /:

Somehow she brought a blouse that fit and I liked enough that I thought hmmmm after all her hard work I can at least buy this one and so it was settled – 20 outfit tries on later and I had bought myself my first Turkish threads (but not really because it was a western/european style store) – oh well.

I couldn’t let the shopping festival pass and not have anything to show – that would have just been wrong.

Off to pack (leaving in an hour and have yet to do so) then taking the metro so I can take a bus to the airport and then a place to Southeastern, Turkey!

Cheers to a good weekend

n

To Banana Bread with Cherries

First baking experience in Turkey!

Preparing for baking in Turkey created more anxiety than the average baking adventure. I am relatively comfortable in a kitchen – and it’s a good thing too because foreign kitchens (literally in the sense of being abroad but also as in not use to because it’s not my kitchen) always lend for a good story. This one was no different. I wanted to bake earlier in the week but when I saw the dial for degrees I knew I had to do some question asking – on Wednesday night at dinner with a friend I was informed that it will mostly be a trial and error approach – I thought I can manage that – or at the very least I was gonna have too. Not to mention she told me that the bundant pan would be my best friend which I was confused on until I realized she meant bundt pan – haha ohhh good times.

maybe each number is 20 degrees (C) – lets pray and hope so….

On Monday I went and hunted down a measuring cup! This could be one of the most magical finds in Turkey yet because at first I thought it was just mL but in fact it is also cups! Yes a 2 1/2 cup measuring cup to be exact. Now this is not the proper way to measure solids, but sometimes you work with what you have.

Now I will try to give exacts as much as possible – which is quite accurate – but a few things (specifically temp) is complete ballpark guessing.

Ingredients: 

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 packets vanilla sugar (they don’t have extract here – this is the equivalent of 1-2 tsp.)

1 egg

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 packet baking soda (1-2 tsp. equivalent)

a generous amount of cinnamon (:

3 ripe and mashed bananas

1/2 cup yogurt (2 containers of activia plain)

1 cup cherries (pitted and quartered)

Directions:

Cream the butter and sugar. Then add the egg, vanilla, bananas and vanilla. Finally stir in the dry ingredients and lastly the cherries. Next time I would double the amount of cherries. At this point you could also add in other things (future possibilities – oh yes there will be more banana bread in Turkey – chocolate chips – they do exist here! just a tad expensive – nuts, other fruits)

More cherries needed next time!

Bake 45 min – 1 hr. at about 350F – this is an estimate – for me it was dial 10 for 30 min and then dial 9-7 for the last 20 min. Haha too funny. The host daughter was laughing but was super excited when she came home and could smell the bread baking (:

Gotta contribute to this family that is giving me so much while here.

I am a fan of this cute little bundt pan

Cheers to banana bread in Turkey

n

Student turned Teacher

Still a Turkish student but as of today I am also an English teacher and I can cross Teaching English Abroad off of my Bucket List!!!! Success success success! I felt into a pretty sweet deal of teaching a few hours of English a week while here and I couldn’t be more thrilled for the opportunity (:

The English school is pretty much neighbors with my Turkish school so I don’t even have to go far for work – quite fantastic. Today I had two students – Ahmet and Aydan – both who are finishing their Masters in International Relations at Ankara University – quite awesome because at one point we just chatted about our thoughts on Turkey and Foreign Policy – ahhh how it delighted me. Hearing what they thought about Turkey’s position on a global scale as well as their opinions of the hot question of Turkish accession sure did bring a smile to my face.

I taught for 2 hours and will see them again next week and will be getting more students too! Another adventure in Ankara.

As for yesterday’s absence of a post – apologies, but I left at 8:30 and wasn’t home until 11:30 at which point I was pretty tired and still had Turkish homework to do. While it was a long day it consisted of Turkish language class, thesis research at my new favorite cafe (Aylak Madam) and then meeting up with two friends for dinner and ice-cream. This ice-cream was heaven sent – caramel, pistachio and tiramisu – delish. Glad I ran today /: Funny story though was one of the girls was craving chocolate and there was none – she sounded like a sad child when she asked in Turkish “Is there chocolate?” “Cicolata var mı?” – the answer of “no” “hayır” was not what she was wanting to hear.

Other success story that I will give a pre on but will be written about in a different post (right after this one) is that I successfully made banana bread!!!! Now in this case it’s not a matter of being able to make banana bread – that is a skill I mastered long ago – rather the fact of the matter is mastering the conversion of measurements and using a degree-less oven to actually bake the bread. Not only do I think it tastes great, but the host daughter had 2 pieces – upon me coming back from my run she said it looked too good not to take a piece and then she had to have another – woot woot! happy turks all around.

I enjoyed a piece after my run (10km another feel good moment) – it definitely hit the spot – my family is going to soon realize (if they haven’t already) that I consume an abnormal amount of bananas – and I add them to everything possible.

A nice heads up that there may or may not be posts for Friday and Saturday since I will going on my first weekend trip to Diyarbakir – the city of Kurdish culture in Southeastern Turkey. Depending on internet options will determine whether I can give updates – but I can promise photos from the trip sometime next week (:

Cheers to crossing things off one’s bucket list

n

Türk Babam – Host Father

The homestay is no longer a sanctuary of women – the host father has returned and I had the great pleasure of meeting him. He is a gentle and kind soul just like his wife from what I can so far tell. Best thing yet, he speaks clearly and slow enough for me to understand (:

I enjoyed a lovely dinner with him and the host mom – the daughter and fellow student staying had not returned home yet. Was able to carry my side of the conversation for most of the dinner – except there was one thing about what they are doing tomorrow that I didn’t catch – guess Ill find out soon enough (;

The dad was super impressed when I was talking about my running with him. Definitely will be nice to have him around. If anything to make me feel good and productive.

I wanted to bake banana bread today, but was stumped when it came to the oven – yes I know it is Celsius here and not Fahrenheit, but what about just the numbers 1-10 on the dial????? hmmmm asking the fellow student who is not here anymore who made banana bread here what she did – meeting up with her tomorrow.

Had a run – but I must say it was quite rough. My legs felt like lead – the usual feeling on the third day of three days straight of running. Decided to just do a short run and follow it up with a serious and long stretch/ab workout. Funny thing though – one of the older gentlemen who was running last night saw me again today and when saw I was done running he did a gesture of like WHAT! come on don’t be done running yet – haha. If only my body was up for it.

There was a soccer game going on while I was running that I watched for a few minutes post but naturally there were no girls playing. I might have to figure out pick-up games at university in the fall because I certainly miss my Intramural days – forever CFFC love.

Still loving Turkish class – one great thing about all the nationalities in the class is everyone has different specialties from home – today the guy from Libya shared with everyone baklava – so delicious (: you can find it all over Turkey, but regional and country varietal differences do exist.

I’ve survived another day and have yet to melt away – I think my body is finally acclimating to the heat…just maybe

Cheers to new acquaintances and in this case family members (:

n